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Five couples traveling together through Alberta, Yukon, Alaska and British Columbia June-August, 2016. We call ourselves the Nolewamaay Adventure Tour. It may sound official but the name is actually made up of the first 2 letters of each couple's last name. Creative members of the group came up with the logo for shirts, hats and sweatshirts.
Click on the points on the map to see what we did at each location.
We have just 7 days before we start our Grand Adventure!! I can hardly wait. All five couples will be here by June 9 and then we will head out June 11 for Alaska! This trip has been 2 years in the planning and now we're ready to go.
We've been at Crescent Bar for 2 weeks and have filled our days exploring the surrounding area. Lake Chelan was refreshing to look at and fun to drive along and on the way home, donuts at Cider Works were definitely worth the stop! Even shopping at WalMart and Costco in Wenatchee was interesting because of all the orchards we passed. Rainier and Bing cherries are almost ready and with temps in the high 90s this weekend it should help the ripening process! The drive to Grand Coulee Dam was beautiful with the open plains, mountains and lakes. The Dam itself was impressive and Lake Roosevelt stretched out as far as the eye could see. Our view here at the park is great because we're on the Columbia River and we enjoy the water view from our front window.
We're glad you're sharing this experience with us and hope you'll follow us all summer!
Today we officially started our trip, caravanning from Crescent Bar, WA to Hayden, ID. Canada is 99 miles north so this is a great place to stop, rest and get an early start tomorrow!! We even made a WalMart run. We will head into British Columbia for a 2 night stay at Radium Hot Springs. Be sure to come back and read about all the fun things we’ve done while there!!
Heading north from Idaho, we made an uneventful crossing into Canada at Kingsgate. We found ourselves in the quaint village of Radium Hot Springs in the middle of the Columbia valley. The city is known for its natural mineral hot springs and pool. It is also the gathering place for the local big horn sheep that come to town for the annual rutting, when they wander down main street and throughout the town.
Radium Hot Springs is also the southern gateway to Kootenay National Park along highway 93 toward Banff. The drive through the park to Marble Canyon was spectacular, with each turn opening up to an even more beautiful mountain vista. Along the way many deer, mountain goats and even a bear were spotted next to the roadway.
Returning to our campground, we took advantage of the natural hot springs nearby and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in the warm pool. The day was capped off with a hot meal at the pub in town while listening to a local country and western band.
Next stop - 4 days in Banff!
After crossing the continental divide we catch our first glimpse of the snow covered peaks surrounding the Bow Valley. As we round the bend, each turn produces another “wow”.
Banff is nestled next to the Bow River and is surrounded by mountains, with Tunnel Mountain sitting in the heart of it all. (There is no tunnel but the name stuck when the railroad thought about putting in a tunnel.) The town is a busy place with lots of tourists and locals mingling at outdoor markets, shops and restaurants. The sights around town are picture perfect and the elk walking among the rigs at our campground makes the whole experience something I would do again!!
Lake Louise met and exceeded our expectations! The water was green/turquoise, the hotel majestic on its shoreline and the view from the gondola breathtaking!!! Driving along the Bow Valley Parkway, we saw elk and a black bear. Whenever we see cars stopped by the side of the road we know to stop and look!! What a delight to watch the bear casually meander across the hillside, stopping to eat or bounce on a dead log!
Johnston Canyon along Bow Valley Parkway is one of the best hikes in this part of the Rockies and some of us got up early in order to beat the crowd. The altitude got to us but the scenery was well worth the effort. The water is turquoise from the glaciers and everywhere we look, we see its beauty.
There is so much beauty here in the Canadian Rockies, I just can’t put it all into words. It’s beautiful, majestic, awe-inspiring and well worth coming to see for yourselves.
Traveling up the Icefields Parkway (Rt. 93) towards Jasper was another spectacular day of sightseeing. Alpine lakes and rivers continued to display the beautiful turquoise color of glacial melting and the snow-covered peaks stood out in sharp contrast to the green meadows and forests. Baby mountain goats crossed the road in front of one coach, but fortunately we were all going slow up a steep incline and the babies made it safely to the other side of the road!!! We saw another black bear and were able to stop and take more pictures. He was VERY close so we stayed in our motorhomes although he acted like our presence was no big deal.
There were waterfalls and vistas along the Icefields Parkway that we could not capture while traveling by them in the motor home. So we ventured by car along the scenic byway back down to Athabasca Falls, where we listened to the roar of the water as it cascaded down to a pristine lake. Again, the water was beautiful and powerful and the scenery so beautiful.
Maligne Canyon was our next stop with more waterfalls, velvet moss growing on the rocks and pockets carved smooth into the rock face. On the same day, the Jasper Skytram took us up to 7,100+ ft. elevation where we could see the entire town of Jasper and all the mountain ranges making up this part of the Canadian Rockies. They just go on as far as the eye can see.
The last excursion was to Maligne Lake, one of the most photographed lakes in North America. More wildlife greeted us on our travels. We saw deer and black bears. The moose, wolves and caribou are still on our list to see, but no luck yet. The lake was beautiful but with rain threatening we didn’t get to see its full beauty. We’ll just have to come back.
Our next stop was going to be Prince George, BC but because of floods and a washed out bridge we will turn east tomorrow and head for Grande Cache and Grande Prairie, AB.
Under cloudy skies we headed east out of Jasper on Rt. 16, the Yellowhead Highway. We also left Jasper National Park and started traveling on regular highways with businesses and different signage along the way. Before long we came to a sign that said “Scenic Route to Alaska” and that made us realize that this adventure is really happening. We followed the sign onto Route 40 and instead of traveling in the Rockies, we were in the Eastern foothills of the Rockies. The area is beautiful in a different way, the scenery consisting of rolling hills instead of towering snow-covered peaks. There were signs of logging and mining along the way but still plenty of forest for the wildlife. We were able to spot deer but we’re still on the lookout for moose, caribou and wolves.
We stopped in Grande Cache for the night and enjoyed the Visitor’s Center. They had a great outdoor exhibit which explained what a grande cache is – a storage cabin on stilts to keep furs and trapping supplies dry and away from wildlife. They also gave us lots of reading material when we told them we were on our way to Alaska.
As our journey continued the next day, we had lots of sunshine, stops for construction, and fox, elk, bear and badger sightings. Grande Prairie was our next stop for shopping at Costco and Walmart and then the final push of the day to Dawson Creek. We crossed back into British Columbia just before Dawson Creek and returned to Pacific Daylight Time after being on Mountain Daylight Time for the past 11 days! The long daylight hours take some getting used to but we’re managing.
Last week Dawson Creek was flooded under several meters of water but fortunately we have had clear skies with a few afternoon showers. We can’t even find real damage in town so we are very fortunate. We have spent our time here relaxing and learning about the Alaska Highway. The pictures and movies show the extreme conditions the men had to work under, temperatures from -70oF to 90oF, mud, mosquitoes and long hours of work. No thank you!!! We’re just glad to be able to experience this part of the world because of all they did.
Thanks for joining us on this trip!!
The first leg of our trip north on the Alaska Highway went from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, BC. The roads were wide and in fairly good condition and there wasn’t much construction. The countryside was a carpet of green as far as the eye could see and still lots of water everywhere!
At one point there were eight motor homes all lined up – our five plus three others. We kept enough distance between us so that cars and trucks could pass safely. Walkie-talkies helped communicate about traffic and also wildlife sightings along the way.
Unfortunately, we had the distinction of being the first coach to experience windshield damage. A rock thrown from a passing truck left a golf ball size imprint on the passenger side. We made a quick stop at the local glass shop in Fort Nelson for repairs and we were back on the road. Hopefully that will be the worst thing to happen!!!
The second leg of our trip was from Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs, BC. We traveled back through the Rockies with long uphill climbs and winding roads. The vistas around every corner were spectacular and the water turquoise blue. More wildlife; two young moose grazing on the side of the highway, black bear cubs frolicking in the grass and a herd of bison holding up traffic as they casually crossed the road. Even without internet or phone service for two nights at Liard Hot Springs, we enjoyed soaking in the hot springs and watching the resident bison walk through the campground like he owned the place.
The third leg of our trip was from Liard Hot Springs, BC to Watson Lake, YT. Travelling under cloudy skies and over some rough road, we still managed to see several bears and bison next to the highway. The trip also took us into and out of Yukon Territory six times along the way.
Watson Lake is famous for its “Signpost Forest” that was started during construction of the Alaska Highway. Our group sign was added to the other 100,000+ signs already in the forest and many pictures were taken in celebration of the momentous event. We will stay in the Yukon until July 9 when we finally cross into Alaska!
Coming into Whitehorse, we crossed the Continental Divide again. We also started following and crossing the mighty Yukon River! What history connected to this body of water and the impact it has on this part of Canada and also Alaska.
We’re being educated every step of the way. The Beringa museum was the best, talking about the land bridge between Asia and Alaska and all the different animals that passed back and forth. The Frantic Follies provided a fun night of laughing and entertainment and when we left at 10:15 p.m. it was still daylight!!! It felt like we had the whole “evening” to do something else. (We were warned about the light so we took steps to make our bedroom dark so that we could sleep. So far it’s working.)
The McBride museum and SS Klondike (steam paddle boat) gave us glimpses into the Gold Rush era and how it affected life here. What a hard life for so little return for most of the prospectors. Entertainers, merchants and bartenders made out better than anyone during the Gold Rush.
The physical beauty of water, mountains, forests and wildlife continues to be the main attraction and most memorable for me.
At Whitehorse, we left the Alaska Highway and traveled north to Dawson City along the Yukon and Klondike Rivers. Lots of beautiful scenery, scarce wildlife, and some really bad patches of road caused by frost heaves! All five motor homes survived but we had to be very careful opening cupboards and closets because of things shifting from the bouncing.
Dawson City’s population is 2,000+ and we were busy seeing all there is to see. There are lots of historical buildings from the Gold Rush era and the town has mandated that all construction continue that theme. You get a real sense of community here and a sense of welcome.
The Visitors Centre was our first stop and their walking tours around town were very informative. Both Jack London and Robert Service lived here, so their cabins were a must-see. Parcs Canada put on an excellent presentation at Robert Service’s cabin, telling his life story and reading some of his poetry/verse.
Our evening entertainment was dinner at the Jack London restaurant followed by a stop at “Diamond Tooth Gertie’s”. Gertie’s is a casino with a 1890’s era style show with singers and cancan girls. It was a great time with lots of laughs.
Midnight Dome is a spot above Dawson City, giving you a bird’s eye view of the rivers, town and surrounding landscape. We were there at 11 p.m. and the sun had not set! What a fascinating sensation. Saw two foxes and a small black bear on our drive to and from the dome so that was exciting.
Tomorrow we take the motor homes on the ferry across the Yukon River and continue our trip into Alaska – finally!!!! Be sure to come back and read all about our trip on the “top of the world” highway.
Today we experienced a smooth, easy ferry ride, glorious vistas, a border crossing, and some really terrible roads.
All five motor homes crossed the mighty Yukon River at Dawson City via the free ferry. The line was non-existent so we all crossed in a short time. The first motor home went over by itself and then two motor homes and two cars went on each of the next rides. The ferry had to work hard to cut across the current with such heavy loads but they made it look easy. After hooking up the cars we were off! We climbed up the hills on the other side of Dawson City and wended our way on the “top of the world” highway, reaching 4500+ ft. in elevation just before the Alaskan border. The highway follows the crest of the mountains and although it was very desolate, the vistas around each corner were wonderful to see. If you have driven the Blue Ridge Parkway then you understand about being on the ridge, able to look down both sides.
The road on the Canadian side had some rough spots, lots of steep inclines, hairpin turns and places where we had to go very slow to miss potholes and dips. We survived that part of the highway and crossed the border into Alaska without a problem. For thirteen miles on the US side we had beautiful smooth roads and loved the drive. But then the pavement abruptly ended and we drove another 70+ miles on narrow, rutted roads doing about 15 mph. (If you have driven on a logging road you know what we drove on.) We didn’t meet much traffic coming the other way and we were all glad for that! We followed Fortymile River most of the way, sometimes looking down on it from a thousand feet! Our coaches were filthy and the cars were even worse but the dirt is proof that we made it!!!
Chicken, Alaska was a wide spot in the road with a population of fifteen, consisting of two RV parks, three restaurants, three gift stores, one saloon and a post office. But it gave us the opportunity to rest after that rough and tumble trip from Dawson City. The guys all had drinks at the saloon, filling all the stools and the girls shopped. There were quite a few miners in the hills around Chicken and one RV park even let you go work their claim. The guys next to us from Minnesota tried it for three days and had two vials full of gold dust. Not a bad return but they said it was really hard work!
The highlight of our trip was the moose!! We went exploring one evening after dinner and discovered a moose foraging in a pond. It knew we were watching but continued to graze on grasses at the bottom of the pond. What an experience. Unfortunately it had moved on by the time we got back to camp and gathered up everyone who wanted to see it. Maybe next time they will get to see the wildlife.
The road from Chicken to Tok was a little better than the previous drive but it still had really big frost heaves and lots of pot holes. There was a bumper sticker that said “I love potholes” and it gave us a laugh. You sure see a lot of them! Alaska had a forest fire in 2004 that burned 1.3 million acres of land and we saw a remnant of that devastation on our way south to Tok. I can’t imagine the smoke from such a huge fire.
It was raining in Tok when we arrived so after parking our rigs, we all just hibernated and called it a night. We will have another chance to explore Tok on our way south in August.
Driving to Fairbanks was a lot more interesting. We stopped at Delta Junction and had a picture taken at the marker for the end of the Alaska Highway. (When we turned north to go to Dawson City and across the top of the world highway, we missed part of the Alaska Highway but on our way home, we will drive the section we missed.) Just north of Delta Junction I started celebrating because in the distance to the west was Denali!!! It was partly covered with clouds but the very top was peeking through the clouds and you could get a sense of just how vast it really is!!! How exciting.
Entering into Fairbanks reminded everyone of how it is to drive in a big city with lots of traffic, stop lights and freeways! We got settled and we’re enjoying five days on the Chena River. Come back and read all about the fun things we did in Fairbanks.
Fairbanks is as far north as we plan to go but you wouldn’t know it by the weather we experienced. It was in the 80’s and 90’s while we were here, but it didn’t slow us down – much. We sailed the Chena River on the sternwheeler, Discovery. They stopped along the way where we saw a dogsled demonstration (the puppies were so cute), visited a replica of an Athabascan village and watched a seaplane take off and land on the river in front of our boat.
The Visitor Center was a wonderful wealth of knowledge about the area and had wonderful displays of the history of Fairbanks. The museum at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks was very well done, with different displays and topics intermingled.
Another day consisted of visiting Dredge #8 (we saw Dredge #4 in Dawson City) where we learned more about the gold rush and how the dredge was operated. Then we panned for gold! What an exciting moment when you see the first little flakes in the pan.
To round out the day, we visited Pioneer Village which had several old buildings and museums to help us experience more history of the area. All in all, Fairbanks is a great place to visit. Of course the University of Alaska does major research on the aurora borealis and that would be a great thing to come see, but unfortunately, the lights are only visible in the winter when it’s awfully cold!!
We’re off to Denali National Park for the next six days. Probably won’t have cell/internet service for awhile, but as soon as we do, I’ll be back writing more about this grand adventure!!
Traveling south from Fairbanks the weather turned gray and overcast and continued with rain, rain and more rain for our time at Denali National Park. Even so, we had four wonderful days exploring all the Park had to offer. We dry camped inside the national park at Savage River Campground without cell or internet service (really roughing it!!) and out among the trees and wildlife. Unfortunately, because of the rain, we really didn’t have an opportunity to see the mountain.
The highlight of the four days was our bus trip to the end of the park road, called the Kantishna Experience. Through the rain and fog, we were still able to see moose, bears, caribou, ptarmigan, grouse and ground squirrels. We even saw a glacier with grass growing on it. No sighting of mighty Denali but it was a good day and the driver was knowledgeable and we did make it all the way to the end of the road! The brown grizzly bear walking down the road right next to our bus was absolutely fantastic and the best part of the drive.
We also saw a dog sled demonstration, got to pet the dogs, and learned all about their use in the park. The park rangers use dog sleds to patrol the park, take supplies to outlying posts and to check for poachers. Since motorized equipment, such as snowmobiles are not allowed within the park boundaries, the dogs play a vital role in protecting the area during the winter months.
We still hope to see Denali but we’re having a great trip and looking forward to more adventures. Hope you’ll continue to follow us on this amazing trip.
As we left Denali we drove south toward Anchorage. We followed the Alaska mountain range and saw some spectacular views, but unfortunately, Denali stayed hidden in the clouds. Sunshine and some blue skies eventually appeared as we got closer to Anchorage and that was a welcome treat.
Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska so we were able to stock up on supplies at Costco, Walmart and other convenient stores. We went to the Saturday Market (on Sunday!!) in the rain and bought a few souvenirs. I caught a cold so I stayed indoors but others went out and toured the city. Some went to the National Parks building which showed short movies about Anchorage and was a great place to go and get out of the rain. Others went to Kincaid Park and were able to see baby eagles learning to fly!!
All in all, it was a good visit and interesting to explore. We’ve done the interior of Canada and Alaska and now we start our coastal experience. Next stop Homer, AK.
As we drove further south on this wonderful adventure, we followed the north shore of Turnagain Arm off the Cook Inlet. Beluga whales frequent this body of water, but unfortunately, the tide was out and so were the whales. However, we did see mountain goats and eagles along the way and the mountains continued to impress and inspire us.
Our campground on the cliffs above Homer gave us a spectacular view of the Kachemak Bay, also off the Cook Inlet. The mountains to the east were snow-capped and filled with glaciers. We took a drive to the east end out of Homer to get a good look at these massive sheets of snow and ice. The size of the glaciers just amazed me.
The five guys and Irma chartered a boat for the day out of Homer to fish for Halibut. The seas were rough so they stayed in the bay but still had a great time and a successful limit catch. There were lots of otters and whales in the bay and we had fun watching one of the otters perform for us right in the marina.
Tomorrow we go to Kenai!
Even though our drive to the city of Kenai was backtracking up the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula, the weather had improved so we were able to view more of the mountains and seascape that we missed on our way south to Homer. Our campground in Kenai was located on the cliffs overlooking the Kenai River where it fed into the Cook Inlet and the Pacific Ocean. The “dipnetting” fishing season had just ended the day before we arrived and campers were still cleaning salmon and their gear from a successful catch. Salmon could be seen jumping out of the water as they made their way upstream to spawn. Again we watched for beluga whales but with all the fishing activity, they were not to be seen.
Homer is the farthest away from home, mileage-wise and Kenai is as far west as Hawaii, so we have gone to great distances on this trip. We have traveled over 3,200 miles so far and still have another month to go!
The highlight of the Kenai visit was meeting up with friends Larry and Gail from our RV club. They live here in Sodatna, Alaska in the summer and were able to spend time with us before returning south to Seattle. They will be heading east before we return to the lower 48 so it may be a while before we see them again.
The morning we left Kenai, there was a bald eagle near our campground. He was so majestic and regal just sitting in a tree, surveying his domain. Mt. Redoubt was in the background in all its splendor so it made for a perfect morning sendoff. Next stop Seward!
Seward was a fun stop in our traveling adventure. The sun was shining and there was word that the Northern Lights had been visible the night before we arrived. Unfortunately the clouds moved in that very afternoon and so there was no light display in the sky for the three nights we were there. But at least it is starting to get darker in the evening and there may still be a possibility to see the Aurora Borealis in all its splendid glory.
The highlight of the Seward stop was a seven hour boat tour to the Kenai Fjords National Park to view the tidewater glaciers of the Aialik Bay. Chilled air moving off the glaciers and the sharp popping noises as the ice cracked and eventually broke loose, thrilled our senses and amazed us with its size and power.
Along the way to the glaciers we were entertained with sightings of eagles, seals, goats, orcas, puffins and even a humpback whale. Although the skies were grey with rain and the seas rough, it was still a great day sightseeing in a very unique National Park.
The following day, we drove a little distance from our campground to Exit Glacier; the only glacier in the National Park that is accessible by road. At the end of the road, a short but somewhat strenuous hike brought us right to the edge of the ice. Exit Glacier was different from the other glaciers we had seen in that it did not meet with the sea, was smaller and much quieter. There were no large chunks of ice calving off into the water! One interesting aspect of visiting this site however, were the markers placed
along the trail indicating how far the glacier has receded over the last hundred years. It was truly remarkable.
Once we left Seward, we traveled back up the Kenai Peninsula, along Turnagain Arm, through Anchorage and on to Palmer for the night. From Palmer, we headed to Valdez, another city on the ocean. We traveled through Thompson pass, surrounded by glaciers and then a long, slow downhill descent to sea level.
We stayed at a park facing the harbor and surrounded by mountains. We saw them every once in awhile when the clouds parted. Even the Alaska Pipeline storage facility was shrouded in clouds most of our stay there.
We saw tens of thousands of salmon spawning at the fish hatchery east of Valdez. We were told it was a good place to see bears so we made several trips, high tide, low tide, then on our last evening there we saw a black bear eating salmon and fishing for more.
It was a good stop, even though it rained all three days. Now we travel four days in order to get to Skagway. I apologize for not writing sooner, but we’ve been busy and without service at some stops.
We left Valdez in a horrific downpour but as we climbed up to Thompson Pass, we dried out and even had sun the rest of the day. Our objective for today is Tok, Alaska. The road north to Glenallen and then northeast to Tok had some beautiful scenery but we were too busy watching for and driving through frost heaves. Canada does a wonderful job of marking the bad spots along the road. Alaska could learn from them because we hit some real doozies!! By the time we got to Tok, we felt pretty beat up.
We are beginning to see evidence of autumn. The blooms on the Fireweed are dropping, with only the tips still in bloom. Alaskans know summer is over when there are no more flowers on the Fireweed stock. We’re also seeing yellow, orange and red among the vivid greens and leaves are starting to fall.
We have come full circle through Alaska now. When we visited Tok a month ago we headed north to Fairbanks. Now we entered from the south, completing one big loop. What an adventure.
From Tok, Alaska we traveled into the Yukon Territory, Canada with a lot of construction along the way. The road was very rough, many road work stops and frost heaves that caused us to drive very slow at times. When we completed the drive, our rigs were completely covered in dirt, dust and mud. Fortunately some of the RV parks have special locations for washing your car and RV. We had not bothered doing that too much on this trip, but after that stretch of road, they really needed it.
Our stop took us to Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake in the Yukon Territory. We pulled into Cottonwood RV Park and settled in for the night. We had a lake front site so everyone joined us for happy hour. It was a little too cool to sit out for long, but it was a nice way to relax after that terrible road. One couple decided to run their generator since the park only provided 15 amp service but the manager came and told them to turn it off. It was before quiet hours and we were told we could run our generators, but he was not happy. When we tried to get clarification about the rules he told us we could leave. We obeyed his wishes, turned in for the night and left very early the next morning. I would not recommend that park to anyone.
The next day was an easier traveling day and we made it into Carcross with no problems. We’re noticing more and more fall colors on the trees and bushes and we’re wondering if we’ll get home before the snow flies!!!! The RV park at Carcross let us wash our rigs and cars so that is how we spent some of the afternoon. We walked around town and had a good time exploring the shops and visitor center.
Today, we traveled a short distance from Carcross, Yukon Territory through British Columbia to Skagway, Alaska on the coast of the Chilkoot Inlet. The border crossing at this point included a very steep 11% downgrade into the city. Our group had some reservations about this route but all our concerns were unnecessary since the road was stepped into smaller sections and we traversed the course without any problems.
The coastline in this region of Alaska is very mountainous, with many fjords and great harbors. Skagway caters to all the cruise ships that come in to their harbor, so there are shops galore!!! We did some exploring and shopping but figured we would wait and do more later. Sunday the town was dead and half the shops were closed because there were no ships in port. Everyone told us to wait – there would be five ships in port by Tuesday!!!
Monday we took the catamaran sightseeing boat to Juneau for the day (Juneau can only be accessed by boat or airplane). We had a smooth sail and were able to see eagles, harbor seals and many waterfalls from the glacier melt. In Juneau, we walked around downtown, had lunch at The Hanger on the Wharf restaurant (best fish & chips), stopped by the Red Dog Saloon and shopped!!! From downtown we went out to the Mendenhall Glacier, just a 20 minute drive out from town. How would you like to say you have a glacier in your backyard? It was beautiful and massive. There were bears nearby but too many people prevented us from seeing them.
From the glacier we boarded our boat for the return trip to Skagway, but first we headed south because the captain had heard there were whales sighted in the area. When we got to the location, we watched humpback whales performing a ritual called “bubble-netting”. There 12-15 male whales gathered together to herd a school of herring by swimming around the outside of the school while blowing bubbles. This confuses and frightens the fish into forming a very tight ball. When ready, the dominant whale will signal the others to swim at the same time through the ball of herring to the surface. They swim with their mouths open ingesting the herring as they pass through the ball. We got to see them do it three times. The captain put a hydrophone in the water so we were able to hear them and the seagulls on top would fly off right before the whales came up to feed (they didn’t want to be part of the meal). It was absolutely the most fantastic thing we’ve seen.
Tuesday, the town was packed with tourists from five cruise ships so we took the White Pass & Yukon Route train to the top of the pass. It was quite a climb but the scenery was beautiful and the narration was excellent. At the top everyone switched seats so that those who saw the east side going up got to see the west side going down. The scenery was spectacular but again we’re noticing signs of autumn and it made us think of heading south before too long.
Upon leaving Skagway, we back-tracked up the 11% grade mountain into Yukon, Canada as far as Carcross, where we caught Route 8 heading northeast to the Alaska Highway. The first night we stayed in the city of Teslin with a nice view of Teslin Lake all around us. Still hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, some of us stayed up quite late, but unfortunately no lights were to be seen.
The next day we traveled to the junction of the Alaska Highway and Cassiar Highway (Route 37) and spent the night. We had encountered more construction and delays and were glad for the rest at the end of the drive.
The third day we turned south on Rt. 37 for our last “touristy” stop – Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. There was more construction and dusty roads on the way so we washed the car – again – so we could see out the windows. Stewart and Hyder are right next to each other and crossing into Alaska there were no customs agents. Going back into Canada we had to show our passports and answer questions. We just went to see the bears. After doing this for three days they got to know us and kept asking if we saw bears. It was a fun experience.
Hyder, Alaska is where the National Park has a walkway over Fish Creek so you can watch the bears feed on the salmon swimming up river to spawn. We went the first day but didn’t see anything. We were disappointed but decided to get up early and be there at 6 a.m. when the walkway opened. The rangers said they always spotted bears early in the morning. So we went – nothing. Went back at noon and saw nothing. Went back at dusk and still saw nothing!! It was very discouraging. Two couples in our group did see bears on the road leaving the walkway area so we were hopeful.
The next day we took it easy and drove up to Salmon Glacier. This glacier really showed the markings of a river of ice and gave us another opportunity to experience the massive amount of ice in a glacier. The fog kept drifting by so one moment you were looking at the glacier and the next, it was totally gone! It was a very eerie feeling.
On our last night we decided to give the walkway one more look at dusk. Nothing there, but other RVers we had talked to the night before were there, so we shared stories and waited for the bears. We finally gave up and on our way back to the RV, we saw a baby bear disappear down the hill. We decided to turn around and sure enough we got a good look at a black bear and her two cubs. They were so cute but I was glad we had the car for protection.
After that successful sighting we decided to try the dump. We were told some bears hang out there so off we went. Sure enough, there were four bears scavenging in the dump. The large female had two cubs and she chased off a smaller male bear. Seven bears in one evening. That was very special.
Tomorrow we say good-bye to Alaska and head east for Prince George where we turn south for home.
We said good-bye to Alaska for the last time and started the final leg of our journey to Prince George, BC. We finished the Cassiar Highway and connected with Rt. 16 – the Trans-Canada Highway. The road was in good shape and very busy, with lots of farms, small towns and a feeling of “normal”. We had traveled all through the Yukon and Alaska and it was a feeling of “otherness”. Now we were back to what we were familiar with.
Prince George was the end of our tour. Two couples left the next morning for obligations at home so we celebrated one last night for dinner and talked about all we had seen. We made a list of twenty top events and here they are:
1. The Canadian Rockies
2. Elk stampeding at our park in Banff
3. The bison in Liard Hot Springs
4. Hot Springs at Liard
5. Posting our sign at Watson Lake
6. Midnight Dome at Dawson City
7. Ferry across the Yukon River at Dawson City
8. Crossing into Alaska
9. Top of the World highway
10. The mall at Chicken, AK
11. Moose in the pond at Chicken
12. Seeing Denali
13. Dredge #8 and Paddlewheel at Fairbanks
14. The Grizzly Bear in Denali
15. Halibut trip at Homer
16. Glaciers at Seward
17. Bear fishing and hatchery at Valdez
18. The drive down to Skagway
19. Humpbacks bubble netting at Juneau
20. Bears on the road and at the dump in Hyder
Thanks for going with us on this journey. It was the trip of a lifetime!