Show the Map
The Vickers began their travels in early June with a ferry trip from Port Angeles, Washington to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They are planning on traveling North to Alaska via the Alaska ferry system and making many stops along the way. Their schedule is flexible and they have a lot of exciting adventures ahead of them.
Click on the points on the map to see what we did at each location.
Chicken is an unusual little spot (or town) and we stopped here for lunch. Talked a while to the lady that owns all of the old part that includes three shops in a row. She is in the Milepost and she lives here and bakes and cooks every day at her restaurant. She only leaves when it's too cold for anyone to come up there. A true Alaskan spirit and nice person. It was raining the day we came by so we didn't spend a lot of time there, but enough to enjoy the town.
We all had to stop at the end of the Al-Can highway (or the beginning depending which way you travel). The Vistor's Center had a temperature gauge that showed how cold it could get in the Winter ---70 below or colder. It is always windy here in the Summer. Across the street we visited the Sullivan Roadhouse (historical landmark) and a very nice gentleman talked to us about the building, the people and how everything blended into the Gold Rush. They have preserved many items from the original and someone wrote notes about that time that really made it come to life. Well worth stopping for. Makes you realize how hardy those early pioneers really were -- and that includes the women!
From Dawson City to Carmacks, there are many viewpoints to stop and read the information and we stopped at almost all of them; Tintina Trench, Gravel Lake, Stewart Crossing, and Pelly Crossing. All of these were important in the 1890's when people were coming to this area for Gold. The Swelkirk Indian community (Crow tribe) lives in Pelly Crossing and we stopped and talked to some of the people doing beadwork and carving...very nice people whe love to explain themselves. This is a dry town. Stopping at the Five Finger Rapids view point was interesting because of the danger that they encountered on the river (five large rocks) that were present. There was a steep stairway that the Zerillos walked down and made their way to the river. We stayed in Carmacks and have a picture of the Welcome to Carmacks mosaic sign.George Carmack established a trading post here in the 1890's along with unearthing gold.
After a long drive from Chicken, we arrived in time to be ferried across the Yukon River about 3/4 mi. to Dawson City. We are staying at a campground near town and we can walk to everything...almost. We started out by going to the Visitor's Center where we decided on three different events to take part in. We drove out to Dredge #4 up the Bonanza Creek and saw several active mines before we reached our tour. After the tour, we all tried our hand at gold panning but got no gold - only mosquito bites. We were able to visit the Dawson City cemeteries and with the help of a booklet, we found most of the people it listed. We continued up the road and went to a location called "The Dome," where we were able to see all of the city below with the Klondike River converging with the Yukon and then looking over to see the mines and the tailings. One day we took a guided tour by a historical interpreter dressed like 1898 who described the way it was through some interesting tales...we had to figure out which tale was true at the end of the tour. Another afternoon tour was conducted by yet another interpreter who was dressed as a mounted police and we all took park in solving a mystery of a Klondike killer. In the evening, we walked over to Diamond Tooth Gertie's saloon where we saw a delightful show. Today, we went to the Dawson City Museum and saw a movie about the gold rush narrarated by a man who grew up here and whose father came in 1898. We also saw a demonstration on how gold was panned and we participated in a Miner's Meeting where they were deciding on a miner's fate...we all participated in that one too. They have a unique program at the museum called "The Mannequin" program where they've casted the faces and hands of prominent individuals who have and are contriubting to this town and this is part of the exhibits and pictures you see. We have only eaten out once here and we had the best Greek food anywhere at the Three Goats Taverna. We loved every bite and by chance got to meet the owner who offered us an after dinner drinke of Ouzo...he said it helps your digestion. There was no need for help and we'd highly recommend this taste treat to everyone...very well-run establishment and friendly. I think you could say this is one of the friendliest towns and really gets visitors involved with it's history.
Can't pass this town without going to Santa's house. A great place to get in the spirit early and find yourselves some great ornaments ...some even made in Alaska!! A place for all to see -- young and older.
Only a short time to get to Fairbanks from Denali. We passed by a few interesting towns along the way which included Henry's coffee house 4 mi. off highway. We really enjoyed the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska. Their many exhibits keep you there for hours seeing how the native Alaskan people lived/survived in harsh settings. Those early pioneer women were really something when you read their stories. We camped along the Chena River and it's so beautiful. I remember how the dalia's are so huge along with every other flower you see...four times as large as at home in CA. The Visitor's Center is full of information along with a movie about kayaking over in the Aleutian chain.
This is a great park and has spectacular views. We first came through Anchorage for one night just to shop for groceries and charge our batteries. We didn't really see much of this town because we wanted to get up to Talkeetna. Talkeetna is where people who want to climb Mt. McKinley have to register and make sure that they are fit and able. A signs says it's a quaint drinking town with a climbing problem! We drove through Eagle River to collect another Elks pin...something we do at every lodge in Alaska and then put them with the sled pin. We went to Wasilla where we really enjoyed the Iditarod Headquarters and learned a lot about the race. We got to Denali and found a great campsite right inside the park - Riley Creek. We are close to the buses and shuttles and have used them all this past week. We enjoyed the Visitor's Center where we signed up for three different hikes led by rangers. On the Horseshoe hike, we wound up at the lake where we saw one of eight different beaver dams along the river. They make a very intricate and sturdy dam and we could see their home across the lake. They love to cut down the Poplar and Birch trees for the dam. We also took a bus up 14 miles to the Savage River and hiked around there along the Savage River. We were surprised to see a Mama Moose (cow) and her calf on the way back to camp. We also fitted in a nice dog sled demonstration that was great. We walked around the kennels, talked to the dogs (one just had three pups)and saw and hear what a remarkable job these working dogs do in the Winter in Denali. Today, our day for the "big" ride into the park, it was raining most of the time. We had another moose surprise when a very large bull moose darted out in front of us and ran up a ways. Up and back is 66 miles on a very good gravel road. We stopped at various times to view Dall sheep and caribu out in the fields. There were quite a few larger bull caribu on the way back to camp today. Unfortunately, we were unable to see Mt. McKinley (Denali) but the mountains we did see were beautiful with casts of purple, rust and had green velvet grasses flowing down their sides. Unlike our home state of California, the wild flowers up here are spectacular - even the end of July.
This was a "see the moose" drive out on a fairly good road. We took a tour of the geothermal facilities and their unique hothouse where they grow vegetables and plants not only for themselves, but for some markets in Fairbanks. We were amazed at the way they are so self-sufficient and only planning on doing more in the future. We also took a tour of the Aurora Ice Museum and indulged in an appletini after looking at wonderful ice sculptures and dwellings that people pay to spend the night...all at 20 below O. They did give us warm parkas to wear and we were only able to stay inside for 45 minutes.
We knew this would be an interesting drive, but we never figured on so much mud to get here. The roads weren't too bad--been over worse and when we slowed down, the big trucks slowed down too. It took us six hours one way with a few stops and a few sprinkles. Glad we can now saw we've been to the Artic Circle. The Burgener's traveled in their jeep further up to Cold Foot and brought everyone back an official certificat saying we made it..something we'll have to frame. On the way back, we saw four moose which surprised us.
This drive was warmer the further South we traveled. Beautiful scenery and saw mountain goats, deer and somewhere along bison (this may not have been the road--I think it was after Watson Lake!) The water in the river looked bluer than we've seen--maybe because it was sunny! We reserved a spot at Whistler campground near town. When we got to our site, we had company--a female elk. We also saw a coyote and had to report him. This area is very woodsy and has more wildlife in the camp. We hiked along a river (gorge) at Maligne Canyon and watched some young kayakers enjoying a race down the canyon. We lunched at Medicine Lake which was very scenic. Lots of elk and goats in this area. We drove up to Pyramid Lake and were lucky enough to see a huge bull Elk with antlers at least 4 ft. across. Patricia Lake was also a nice place to see. We went to Edith Cavell Glacier and hiked it in the rain and wind.
After a long drive along the Smokey River, with no animal sightings, we stopped in Grande Cache and stayed at the municipal campground here before entering Jasper. They had a nice Visitor's Center, but we didn't stay long.
One of the bluest lakes we've ever seen, or so we thought. The also beautiful Lake Louise Hotel looks over the lake with the picturesque mountains in the background. Incredible flowers all around the hotel make it really attractive. Above this lake we saw an even deeper blue lake--Lake Maraine. We hiked up a short trail to a rocky outcropping and saw how blue the lake really is... Back at camp we were told not to take walks with less than four people -- bears.
On our way to Lake Louise from Jasper we stopped at Athabasca Falls. Nice walk to see an incredible waterfall. Very powerful and something to behold. Our next waterfall was the Sunwapta Falls. They were also great, but less powerful. Arrived at the Columbia Ice Field and bought tickets to take a ride up to the glacier where you can walk around.
On our way up from Sikanni we passed a sign that read "prepare to meet your maker." The road wasn't as bad as it use to be. There was a lot of natural gas exploration. We stopped at Rotary RV Park to see the Alaska Hwy Monument at Charlie Lake. It memorializes the twelve American soldiers who drowned in May of 1942 when their pontoon boat sank. They were working on construction of the hwy. Stayed at Mile "O" RV Park in town. Checked in at the Visitor's Center and walked around the town finding murals. Took our picture at the Mile 0 sign in town.
We took a diversion on our way to Teslin Lake and we're glad we did. We came upon a beautiful lake "Emerald Lake, aka Rainbow Lake," but since it was cloudy, we didn't get the full effect. The Carcross Desert was named the world's smallest desert...and it is, but the atv's love it. We also took a little while at the Caribou Crossing Wildlife Museum. 100 displays of Yukon and Ice Age mammals. The town of Carcross had a good walking tour which included a walk overlooking Bennett Lake. Lots of railroad history that tied into the Gold Rush.
On our way to Whitehorse, we had to stop for a cinnamon roll at Braeburn Lodge. They are huge. Went down to Mom's Bakery for some sourdough bread but she was low and only had one loaf...but that was okay because we got to see Lake LaBarge. I had bought Robert Service's book with the "Cremation of Sam McGee," and HAD to see the lake. Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon and a very large town, unlike Dawson City. They have a nice Visitor's Center where we got some good advise as to what to do..and where the markets were located. We decided to go up to Miles Canyon and go on a free guided nature walk that took us to Canyon City (or what's left of it). Two young men with the Yukon Conservation Society led us across a suspension bridge then began the walk. We also saw the World's Large Weathervane located at the Yukon Transportation Museum. We had to return another day to see all of this museum and then go next door to the Beringia Interpretive Centre; both were wonderful. Another day we visited the SS Klondike National Historic Site where we again had a guided tour and video showing their importance during the Gold Rush. In the evening, we couldn't pass up a show called "Frantic Follies." A very enjoyable time...for three days and could have been longer.
On the way down toward Dawson Creek we stopped at a nice campground, Strawberry Flats. It was a windy road and we had wind. Saw a few deer on the road and gave up a cap to put on the ceiling at Toad River Lodge. We pulled off road on Tetsa River because of a downpour. Drove past Fort Nelson to Sikanni River Campground along the river--pretty spot but we had lots of rain.
The "Sign Post Forest" is this town's claim to fame...well, sort of. We camped across the street from Visitor's Center and the forest. Had to make a sign for posterity and nail it up. Some were very unique and many cities have lost their signs that end up here! We had a nice visit at the Northern Lights Centre. This was in a circular auditorium with reclining seats. The whole ceiling was ablaze with laser technology - it's aptly called the "Electric Sky." The aurora borealis was brought to life. Wish we were here to see this spectacular event. There was also an incredible story about the space program and the galaxies.
We passed through the Chugach mountains to Portage. Some of us wanted to go through the tunnel to Whittier. Albert & I visited the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We were lucky to get there before all the tour buses arrived so we saw a few of our favorite animals up close. They have a huge herd of wood bison that they were feeding, there were elk, caribu and black bear along with an eagle and owl. We went back to the Portage Glacier Visitor Center and stayed only a few minutes. It sits right on a lake that had a few icebergs floating in it...very windy day but the scenery with those beautiful mountains is priceless. Still looking for Dall sheep.
Ketchican has been a very interesting stop. Being able to drive yourself is a plus since we were on a cruise ship last time and didn't really get to experience the area. We have driven from one end to the other (29 miles total). Saw loads of fishing boats and we are staying at a marina that has brought in lots of salmon and halibut. Even saw a few orcas the first day here. We wanted to see as many totems as we could so we went to two places; i.e. Saxman and Totem Bight State Historical Park. The latter was excellent and we even spoke to a carver who was working on an addition to the park...Potlatch Park. There is a short trail through a rain forest to get to see more totems and there is an interpretative map that explains them to you. There was even a building that house antique cars and a museum with quite a collection of really old guns (no connection to any of the First Nation information).
After picniking there, we drove to the end of the road to see if we could spot a bear...NOT. But, on the way back we noticed eagles circling above us so we drove down a road to the Salmon Falls Resort and were in for a great surprise.... hundreds of eagles flying, eating and sitting in trees all around us. The eagles looked like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Got some good close-up pictures of them.
We did enjoy downtown too, but there were so many visitors from the cruise ships that it wasn't as much fun as being out in the wilderness, so to speak. Lots to do and see in this neat town.
We actually saw some bears on our drive back down to Prince Rupert. For some reason they like walking along the highway. When we got back to Prince Rupert, we decided to take the tour of the oldest remaining fish cannery on the West Coast of North America. It was established in 1889 and is being restored to its former self with the help of grants written by a very nice person who took us on the tour. Steve explained everything from the people who worked and lived here to their jobs and how they got along. This tour was 2-1/2 hours in length and worth every penny. Found out that the tides here fluctuate by four feet every hour.
Mon. June 27, we too an all-day ride to Tracey Arm glacier in one of the world's greatest fjords. The Capt. Cook's skipper was wonderful as he stopped along the way to show and explain some whales, birds and icebergs that were blue. It was a blue-sky day and the crew said we had an exceptional experience because we saw so much calving of the glacier. No whales go back this far because it messes up their sonar, but there were harbor seals and their pups floating on the ice. No large cruise ship could ever get back this far and see so much. Glad we did this. After we got back, we enjoyed ourselves at the Red Dog Saloon for dinner...what a nutty and fun bunch of people there.
Because of truck problems, we lost two days and had to skip Wrangell, but the other two couples were able to make it there. We had Carlson Ford in Ketchican fly in a part and put us back together. Can't say enough about them. We then were able to get on a different ferry North and rode 23 hours to get to Juneau... not recommended if you like to sleep! We have had lots of rain and did see a few whales while traveling. We arrived to a beautiful campground at Mendenhall and are surrounded by lush forests and lots of moss on the ground. We took a trip to the Mendenhall glacier visitor's center and then took a great hike to the base of the glacier and to a large waterfall. After lunch, we all decided to see the Shrine of St. Therese. The church is located on an outcropping surrounded by thick trees...very nice. Lots of paths and flowers to look at and if lucky you can spot a whale or two.
Drove up to Salmon Glacier on a dirt road for approx. 23 miles. Steep sides but great view when we got there. Well worth the knuckle-biting. On the way back, we all stopped at "The Bus" for a great halibut fish & chips. The cook showed us a plant called "Yarrow" that works to keep away mosquitos. You take the leaves from the plant and rub them on your skin. We've been looking for these plants ever since.
Going backwards to Nanaimo because we weren't connected with you then. This is the bastion in town that was built in 1853. At noon each day they have a reinactment of blowing the canon outside this building. Very nice town.
Picture of the four of us and the campsite at Ripple Rock.
After leaving Port Hardy on Monday, 6/13, we encountered rain the whole 15-hour ferry ride to Prince Rupert. Mother nature didn't cooperate. We saw lots of forested islands and plenty of lighthouses all the way. The BC Ferry line was a pleasant experience but not inexpensive to travel. We did see one whale breeching and that was about all the wildlife. At 11 p.m., we pulled into Prince Rupert RV park along with many other folk. Got a few winks and then left again at 8:30 a.m. to drive up to Stewart/Hyder. This again was in the rain but not a bad ride. The road was very good and not many other cars on it. It skirts the Skeena River and that was a plus. I think the many waterfalls we encountered could rival the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii. In every crevase of the steep mountains you could see waterfalls. The tops of the mountains are still snow-covered and melting. The weather has been averaging 55 F. Hard to find gas stations that a large rig can pull into.
I'll take a picture tomorrow of all three couples but we won't be standing by our rigs since we're not all next to each other.
Probably the only campground near the ferry that will accommodate long rigs like ours. Quatse campground is beautiful. There is a salmon hatchery here and a nature walk. All the Visitor's Centers have ladies that are so helpful to us. Today, we got our reservation already over at Prince Rupert for Monday night...made at the Visitor Center in Port Hardy.
If you like A&W Rootbeer, this island has more than we've ever seen before. They are going to have a parade tonight in town with fire engines and everything for the graduating kids in town.
Valdez wasn't on our original map, but we decided we had to go down and visit the pipeline. Actually, every road we've taken includes scenery like no other location we've ever been to. We stopped at another glacier lookout and took a short path down to see. We found ourselves at a military campground at the Valdez Glacier which had spotty electricity, but beautiful spot. A small black bear just walked down the road and climbed into a tree and hung (literally) out. We were able to visit the local hospital where a fantastic group of people took care of a foot (toe) problem I was having. In the later evening we drove over to a spot near a fish hatchery and watched salmon boil in the water near a weir. Of course you aren't suppose to fish closer than 300 ft. but some did. Huge sea lions were swimming around barking at the fishermen who were catching salmon (silvers I think)...then came a bear out of the forrest and he wandered near the water scattering the fishing people away and caught himself a fish and walked back into the forest to have dinner. This was at 10:00 p.m. and it was still light out.
Found a close campground at Lake Kenny near the Wrangell-St. Elias Natl Park. When many of these stops say "free wifi" they usually don't have much power and therefore you can't really reach the internet before it drops you. We will try to put in blogs when we have good service. We took our truck into the park and drove on an 85-mile one-way dirt road with tires deflated and had a pretty good drive. We saw one moose going in and two on our way out. We stopped at the remaining Gilahina trestle that was built in 1911. It was 890 ft. long and 90 ft. high and built in 8 days!! We arrived near McCarthy and took a tour of the Kennecott mine that is now an historic landmark. It is the largest wooden structure in North America and was closed down in 1938. This whole area is at the base of Kennicott glacier and some walk out on it with good spike shoes. We learned about the dirt covered glaciers that are called morine(sp). You would never know you were looking at part of the glacier. This was so worth the long ride...we enjoyed every minute.
Arrived in Seward and found a campground on the water. We all went down to the Alaska Sealife Center and were enlightened by all the interesting exhibits. Of course, we saw again the tufted puffins but they also had a billed puffin in with many other birds and ducks. This is a wonderful place for youngsters to visit because they make all their exhibits educational for all. On our way back to camp, we passed many of the beautiful murals that are painted all over the towns buildings depicting life in Seward. The next day we went up to Exit Glacier and took a guided tour with a ranger. Our guide happened to be a native of Seward on a break from college for the summer and couldn't be more informative. Katie Peck painted (or had us paint) a picture of everything around us from the moraine, rocks, trees, flowers and animals on our way to the glacier. This glacier is moving back very fast..3 ft a month I believe. The glacier water was 34 degrees but you don't think it's that cold unless you leave your hand in for a minute...wow. We also had our first encounter with flies and more flies buzzing all around us. They come out for about 3-4 weeks a year..were'nt we lucky?
This location, Homer, has been our longest yet. We have been here 10 days. The biggest reason, other than we've had lots to do, is halibut fishing. The tides and the wind weren't in our favour so we waited until today, Wed. 20th, to go out. Talk about an incredible fishing day. It's called fishing not "catching" for a reason, but we FISHED!!! Our captain took us out 37 miles to a favorite spot of his and we immediately hooked up. Shannon brought in the only salmon, a silver that we're having for dinner tonight and we all caught our limit of two each in a very short period of time. The captain was so happy that he even took us to Gull Island to see the birds and see our first tufted Puffin. All in all it was a dream of a day. Our biggest fish was probably 65-70 lbs. but the average was closer to 35-40. We are sending them home. We have been fortunate to meet up with a friend who lives here and he took us on a short excursion of the town. We met his neighbor who works for Silver Fox and that's who set us up with our fishing trip....plus he invited us to pick some of his rhubarb and we did and turned it into sauce with strawberries. We've been to the Farmer's Market here in town and the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies where we signed up for an estuary walk one day, a drive around "birding" areas another day, and a special program all about halibut... They have something to do all the time and it's so interesting. Toured the Bear Creek Winery and went out to a point with huge wildflower fields. We camped out on the spit right up against the ocean which was beautiful every day. When the tides were at their lowest one morning we went to the beach and walked the tidepools. Not quite like California, but interesting in a different way.
Have to say that this road is a real challenge pulling a fifth-wheel. Lots of frost heaves and gravel. We have had good weather and that makes it so much easier since you can see the mountains, streams, glaciers. We didn't stay here other than to sleep, do laundry and gas up to go on. Found a nice gift store in town, so that is always a plus.
Don't know what happened to this account in Juneau, but we went on an awesome trip to the Tracey Arm Glacier and saw incredible icebergs, seals and pups on floating ice and lots of birds. On the way we saw humpbacks feeding and that was a plus. We had an incredible time there with lots of noisey calving of the glacier...really spectacular. Had a nice dinner at the Red Dog Saloon after the all-day trip and were really entertained by some funny people. If you like rain, we had some.
Tuesday was museum day and city tour. We started with a guided tour in the City Museum. Artifacts from the different native people along with their stories and how Alaska was involved with World War II. They showed how Russia's influence in Alaska and how it shaped the areas development. On our tour we saw the old St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox church. We went to the capital and toured a few floors then the guide across the street at the City Museum gave us a walking tour of how Juneau began and some of the old stories.
Our drive from Haines to Haines Junction was one of the most scenic so far. We finally saw our first grizzly bear eating dandelions in a meadow. He didn't seem to be bothered by our looking at him. Then a little ways further we saw a juvenille bear and then a larger black bear walking into the forest. Tons of wild flowers on this highway; pink roses, yellow, white and dark pink flowers everywhere. Stayed at Cottonwood Campground right on the lake. One of our prettiest days so far.
We are enjoying a camp spot right on the water. The view of the water and mountains is spectacular. Cracked our own crab the day after we arrived to have for dinner. The town is full of very friendly people and you can walk just about everywhere you want to go. Took a walking trip to Fort Wm. H. Seward located right above Port Chilkoot Dock. They now use many of the buildings for hotels, restaurants, gift shops and Indian cultural shops. On third day, we went to a Farmer's Market that was located in Dalton City where they filmed the movie White Fang. We also visited the Haines Brewing Co. and got a sample. Drove out to Chilkoot Lake for a picnic in hopes of seeing a bear -- just eagles and many fishermen and women. The sockeye are beginning to run. Later in the afternoon they had a unique boat race down the river to the bridge. They had to use homemade boats that were big slabs of styrafoam fitted together with anything they could find. This is an annual event that everyone can enjoy. Tomorrow we plan on taking a hike by Battery Point...of course we hope to see wildlife.