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When my husband Ed and I graduated from college in 1971, our plans were to move to Alaska to live, work and play. Due to my father-in-law's tragic death 2 months after we wed, we postponed the trip. Life happens and so here we are, newly retired and leaving June 16th for Alaska through Great Falls, Montana. We plan on traveling through Banff and Jasper and then use the Milepost's basic itinerary #2. Visiting with people along the way is one of our primary ways of learning about an area so our route may vary from time to time.
Click on the points on the map to see what we did at each location.
Diamond willow walking sticks check. Mosquito netting check. Raingear check. GPS cell phones check. We are ready to take off from home, Fort Morgan Colorado. We been waiting 45 years, let the adventure begin!
Last stop before entering Canada. Great Falls Montana visiting Ed's cousin Velma Whitt. Beautiful Giant Springs on the Missouri River and Black Eagle Falls.
Just outside Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada is an interesting united nations educational scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) site called head smashed in Buffalo jump world heritage site.
Here there is evidence of human activity for at least 11,000 years. This buffalo jump bears witness to a custom practiced by native people on the Great Plains for nearly 6000 years.
Thanks to their excellent understanding of topography and bison behavior, groups of native hunters killed bison by driving them over in a precipice.
Head smashed in Buffalo jump has become known around the world as a remarkable site that teaches us about Plains Buffalo culture.
This interesting attraction can eat up two or three hours easily. It is about 10 miles off of Highway 2.
I recommend their buffalo stew in the cafeteria.
What can you say about Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada, except that it's heaven on earth? This glacier made lake lies below beautiful mountain scenery topped with ice fields. It's emerald color is unbelievably beautiful. We hiked the 4 miles in 4 miles back almost to the teahouse in the mountain. The hiking trails were wonderfully well-maintained. While hiking along the lake we saw canoers enjoy the scenic, Peaceful lake. After our hike we stopped to have a meal at their historic chalet. This site is not to be missed in Alberta.
Today we got to tour in Banff and Jasper national Park's, Alberta Canada. While hiking at Lake Louise we saw a porcupine alongside the path. Driving to Jasper all along the icefield highway we saw two Mountain goats grazing along side the road. When we registered at our campground they informed us that day they had seen three Bears in camp, two of them were grizzlies. Needless to say we got our bear spray out. Then we got to see a mother elk running through our camp site. We're close to the wilderness now.
We awoke this morning to the sounds of birds chirping, the smell of wood burning and pine scent in the air. We took our first hike. Our campsite was in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, mountains all around. We were in the Banff Tunnel Mountain village II. It was gorgeous and for $22 a night a good bargain.
We stopped for the night at Grande Prairie Alberta Rotary campground. It is located on a small urban lake. Shortly after arriving we heard balloon burners ignite and looked across the lake to see lift off of a beautiful hot air balloon. Perfect timing.
We took the tram up Whisler's Peak part way and then hiked another 1000 feet. Amazing view.
We stopped at the Kiskatinaw provincial park right by the last remaining wooden bridge of the old Alaska Highway. Such a beautiful place to spend a little bit of time. It is mind-boggling to think that those 11,000 soldiers forged the 1500 mile highway between Dawson Creek and Fairbanks Alaska in 1942 over a period of 8 months 12 days.
As we got to the Alaska Highway a gentleman pulled up and said "Hi I'm a city councilman and the Mayor told me to go out and meet the tourists". Terry MacFadden good naturedly took our picture for us.
We stopped at the visitor center in Grande Prairie Alberta. In addition to the visitor center we found a free museum that was very well done. We found the video from 1941 on farming in the area to be very interesting. Word of warning they close from 12 noon to one P.m.
Look there, my Finnish heritage husband down at the hot end (118 degrees F). Everyone said the hot springs are not to be missed and everyone was correct. The campground was full when we rolled in at 8 PM but they let us dry camp in the over flow which worked out great.
This route literally has a new sight around each bend. Our wildlife count for this day was 6 black bears, 6 bison and 1 moose. What an adventure!
A word of advice...don't stop at Coal River BC for fuel. Cost us almost double what we paid anywhere else.
Even tho road construction is a fact of life on the Alaska Highway the flag people can be very friendly.
We got to mount our Ed and Pam Kaleva Fort Morgan CO sign. They figure over 83,000 signs and growing. Yesterday they had over 400 visitors. Today seemed quiet to us. Very friendly and helpful staff at the visitor's staff.
We made it to Skagway and immediately took in the vaudeville show "Days of 98". What an intimate venue it was tonight. They entertained us royally.
And this floosie wanted me to send her this picture. She had never seen an "Official Brothel Inspector" before.
Just to the north of the Commons area at Carcross is this delightful bakery. As all businesses in Carcross it is run by a member of the Band. Her Salmon Chowder with Bacon was terrific. The caramel roll wasn't half bad either. Very informative and friendly people. We were here 5 years ago on a cruise and marvel at how much building has been done by the Band since then. They have stayed true to their heritage with original art work etc.
We spent a lot of time in this small town finding out info on First Nation's and Gold Rush history in Carcross, Yukon.
We got off the beaten path a bit at Carcross and dipped my feet in the Bennett Lake. Yes it was cold.
We are beginning to feel like locals. We got invited to the community summer solstice party on Saturday night. They had all kinds of activities going on. A rock concert, glass blowing demonstration, All kinds of games such as Horshoe, bean big toss, croquet and various other things. They also had a delicious food building set up serving Fresh garden to table delicacies. You can't go to a summer solstice party without having flowers in your hair. 😀
Due to the long days of sunlight plants grow to huge sizes. This cabbage already has the makings of a champion produce and it's only June. We found this in the Jewell Gardens, Skagway. It is a beautiful setting and they also do glassblowing demonstrations there.
We ran into these three 'old' friends the day after we saw their performance in days of 98 show. These gals were so talented and royally entertained us. Skagway is a small town.
We chose to spend a night at the Chilkoot national historic Park campground. Getting into the spirit of the thing we went up a ways on the Chilkoot trail. We went up the equivalent of 30 some flights of stairs which is a teeny portion of the 33 miles the trail went. Still we got an idea of just how much effort those prospectors put into their travels.
We had so much fun at the solstice party Saturday night at Jewell Gardens we decided to go back for lunch on Sunday. They had a large menu featuring fresh garden to table delights such as sunflower sprout salad, wild caught prawn risotto, fresh blueberry crapes. Our tummys were happy. We chose their bright Tea room as it looked out onto the beautiful gardens.
We attended the 'Frantic Folies' in Whitehorse. It was an old time vaudeville production. As you can see it met with Ed' approval.
While we were in Dawson City they were having Gold Mining Championships so Ed joined in the Cheechako (rookie) category. Four flecks of gold were his reward.
Mandatory picture at Chicken Alaska
Top of the World highway wasn't much of a road but we took it slow and made it to Alaska
As amazing luck would have it or just a plain blessing we wandered into a Riverview RV campground rec center this evening by North Pole Alaska. The speaker said he would be telling tall tales and some out right lies. He proceeded to entertain us with some Robert Service poetry and some of his own. His name is Rich Eskew and such a talented man he is! His home base is Springfield Missouri where we spend a lot of time. I'm sure we will look this poet/author up again.
The guy in the kilt won the pie eating contest. Lots of activities for our nation's birthday. Parade, kiddie games, strong man contest, pie eating contest, needle (quarters) in hay find, live music (whiskey Jacks) food, biggest rack contest, air rifle contest, grease pole climbing, free throw shooting, etc. good time had by all.
The show at the Palace Theater was a riot and well done.
Nice temperatures and not much darkness is July in Fairbanks. Never gets completely dark.
The Pioneer Park in Fairbanks has a nightly Salmon Bake that included prime rib and cod. The salmon was delicious.
We flew to Anaktuvuk Pass Alaska this morning north of Fairbanks about 200 miles from the Arctic ocean. We flew their mail route on A Piper Navajo twin engine aircraft with seating for five passengers. Warbelow Air Ventures rewarded us with an Arctic Circle Certificate. Being able to experience a true Eskimo I arctic village was thrilling. Flying over the magnificent Brooks mountain range was very exciting.
We spent the afternoon in Fairbanks taking the sights. We spent awhile viewing some musk ox at the University of Alaska Large Animal Research station, watching some Sand Hill Cranes at the world famous Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge and touring their wonderful Pioneer Park.
We love the Hot Springs! Chena Hot Springs is an hour away from Fairbanks and one of their prime attractions. We were able to camp in a wooded area by the Hot Springs for $20 a night. Their rooms went for $200 a night. Traveling by pick up camper in Alaska is a no brainer.
We got to tour Fairbank's Fountainhead Collection of vintage tread's and threads at the Wedgewood resort. Ed was very excited about this fantastic auto/couture museum - a private collection of Tim and Barbara Cerry's. Ed calls it a jewel in the wilderness and a must see in Fairbanks. Thanks to Nancy Dewitt for her picture.
Pioneer Park has places for RV camping. $12 per night water and dump available in a central location.
Midnight sun Intertribal Powwow in Fairbanks Alaska
We find interesting people wherever we travel. The things we learn!
The Fairbanks Walmart is the largest I've ever seen. Very friendly to RVers. They have some parking spots with plug ins which are essential in the winter with minus 50 degree temps. Living in Colorado we don't need them but coming from North Dakota we knew what they were for
We have reservations for tomorrow night at Savage River inside Denali national park at mile number 13 of the Park road. Since there were three episodes of grizzly Bear attacks recently, I will be facing my fears. They have closed that area to hiking but still allow hard sided camping. Ed says we can use our diamond willow walking sticks to fend off the bears. Since he's is longer than mine, he feels safer. 😓
We saw 6 Grizzlies including a mama and two playful Cubs and a huge male that walked within 50 feet of our bus. Six moose showed us their stuff including 4 Bullwinkle size males with 70+ inch racks. 11 Dall sheep, a snowshoe hare, 55 caribou , ptarmington, etc. facinating day.
No problem with the rogue Grizzlie in our camp ground last night.. Fear conquered.
Beautiful hiking trails. 77 degrees for a high today.
Interesting stop at the Talkeetna Museum. This display showed what the first climber wore to reach the summit in 1913 on the left and what today's climbers wear today on the right.
We stayed overnight in Byer's State Campground and as we drove by the South Denali viewing sight she was really showing off. Magnificent
We took a two hour float trip on the Talkeetna River beautiful trip and another sighting of The Great One.
Vegetation grows so well with so many hours of sunlight.
Interesting craftsman in Willow Alaska, Scott Thompson Willow Creek Studio. Willow Alaska
Quite a store.
Camping on the shores of this 350 acre lake...peaceful and beautiful. No we didn't see Sarah Palin.
I've been taking pictures of signs I only see in Alaska.
We got to hold some adorable husky pups today at the Ididarod Headquarders in Wasilla Alaska. I'm in love.
Pretty much our status today.
Flat Top Mountain is the most readily assessible mountain in Alaska with amazing views of Chugach mountain range, Cook Inlet and Anchorage.
11 different Natuve groups were represented at this Natve Heritage Center...very well done with dancing, athletic demonstrations, videos, beautiful artifacts, outdoor museum, art for sale and knowledgeable guides. We spent many hours here.
We had a pleasant hike along this path that resulted in a beautiful view of Anchorage from Cook Inlet.
People in Anchorage are justifiably proud of their beautiful summer flowers. They call their city 'City of Flowers' in the summer and 'City of Lights' in the winter.
We got to see wildlife even on a trolley tour of Anchorage..Mrs Moose made her appearance to the delight of all on board.
Incredible museum that covers Alaska history...it covered each stage: natives, Russians, pioneers, oil, statehood, logging hands on displays...just extremely well done.
We still haven't had enough of animals so took in Anchorage's Zoo.
Beautiful place to spend time while they work to get a wildfire under control on the Seward Highway we need to pass through to get on the Kenai Peninsula. We are in no danger.
This is the Asiatic Lily
Did I say we love museums?
Resurrection Bay At Seward
After the Valdez oil spill, they built this Marine research and education center. Wonderful to watch marine life underwater and above...including birds such as Puffins.
We elected to delay our trip to Seward one day due to not wanting to inhibit the firefighter's efforts on Seward highway. We got through today with no delays.
We walked to the foot of the Exit Gacier and greatly enjoyed seeing the glacier and glacier melt. Everyone seemed to think our netting was a good idea as the black flies were bothersome.
We finally arrived in Soldotna, Alaska after waiting 45 years. The fishermen are busy with their "combat fishing" during the salmon run. This is a big weekend in Soldotna with their "Progress Days". In addition to all the river fishing going on, they are having rodeos, wood carving contest, live music, car racing, parade, Dutch oven cook off etc. We should be busy.
This home was built by Ed's uncle Rod Kaleva south of Soldotna in 1979. They have since moved to California but we were pleased to send them this picture of a well maintained house today.
We were entertained by chain saw artists at their Saw Fest competition on Soldotna for Progress Days weekend
The evening Homer Harbor was spectacular as seen through the Fire Weed. I'm told Alaskans have a love/hate relationship with Fire Weed. They love it's color and beauty but hate that it is one of the first signs that summer is nearing the end when the blooms reach the top of the stalk.
I've always wanted to visit Homer Alaska as I say it was named after my Dad, Homer Mitchell(ha). It is actually named after a confidence man named Homer Pennock. I like my story better.
Tomorrow we plan on deep sea fishing. We will find out if this pharmacist bought the right combinations of antinausea aides remedies .. I have five of them. I may sleep all day tomorrow on the boat but I shouldn't be sea sick.
Captain John Tobin and deck hand Kevin made our deep sea fishing excursion a wonderful experience. I started right off telling Kevin I was scared and he gently guided us through a full day of adventure on the Sea of Alaska. I highly recommend Tall Tail Charters.
We were introducing our selves to the other four fishermen on the charter and come to find out my aunt was Kevin Ritter's great aunt . He grew up 25 miles from our ND home! We had to come to the Gulf of Alaska to meet. We had a really good time with these four gentlemen.
Wow what a great time we had on our Homer deep sea fishing charter!
One of the Alaska locals from Soldotna suggested we stop at an art gallery between Soldotna and Homer. Are we ever glad we did as we found a gallery of fine Alaskan art in the wilderness. Norman Lowell Gallery.
Watching these seals and seagulls was a riot at the fishery by Valdez, Alaska. The tide was coming in and salmon running so everything was feeding.
I heard an incredible sound last night. Wolves howling! It didn't last long but was unmistakable. Took me a while to get back to sleep.
Today we got to watch Alaska residents exercise their right to net their limit of salmon on the mouth of the Kenai River running into Cook Inlet. Annual limit is 25 salmon for head of household and 10 each for anyone else in the household before July 31. Interesting process.
Not much I can add to this scenery picture. Postcard views everywhere I look.
This view on top Bodenburg Butte outside Palmer was well worth the 57 flight equivalent it took to reach the summit. Lovely afternoon. A bonus was meeting two Wwoolf farm workers from Germany and Denmark. Nice visit.
Blue ice of Matananuska Glacier we got to walk on today.
We spent the evening watching the antics of sea otters trying to keep their fish from maurading sea gulls, sea lions eating their fill of salmon with very little effort, learning about Valdez's fish hatchery (250,000,000 salmon eggs hatched a year) and seeing multiple fishermen catch a salmon with each cast. We were even offered some salmon. Dang that full freezer.
We had a difficult day of driving the Tok Cutoff with so many wuppy doo frost heaves. But then we saw this beautiful mountain in the distance and it turned into a good day. I think it is Mount Sanford, 16,237 feet, but don't quote me.
Chilkoot State Park just north of Haines had amazing scenery. It also had interesting people, bald eagles, quiet camping and oh yes, grizzlie's.
Watching a bald eagle on Haines's harbor.
Color us educated on the Haines area. They were all good but my personal favorite was the Heritage center at Klukwan. They have spent decades trying to retrieve their sacred items and this May they opened a new museum to display them. Three hundred year old masterpieces.
Our flight seeing trip left me speechless. St Elais Mountain range. We got to see Alaska as you can only see it from a small plane.
Undoubtably our Alaska trip highlight was our Flightseeing trip with Mountain Flying Service with Amy and Paul out if Haines Alaska.
It is like God took a paint brush and produced a master piece which he did!
Until next time😔
We had an absolutely wonderful trip.