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We are Ken and Alice Halverson from Minnesota. We have been married for 43 years and are retired. We are traveling in a 20 foot travel trailer. We plan to travel around 7,000 miles going from Minnesota through North Dakota and crossing into Canada via Calgary, Alberta, driving through Hinton and up to Dawson Creek AB. We plan to go to Watson Lake BC, Whitehorse YT, Tok AK then on to Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Anchorage, Seward, Kenai for some halibut fishing, Homer, Wasilla, Glennallen, Valdez and then return home.
Click on the points on the map to see what we did at each location.
An awesome first day. We stopped at Medora Campgrounds in Medora ND. We then visited the historic old town of Medora with lots of cool shops and replica buildings from olden times. We then drove a 36 mile loop of Theodore Roosevelt National Park which includes the Badlands of North Dakota. While driving through the park we saw two cow bison and two calves. It was awesome!!
After leaving North Dakota we traveled north on Highway 85 to Williston ND. From Williston there is lots of road construction with many flagmen and lots of unpaved road and only 25 miles per hour!! Since we were not in a hurry I didn't mind, however, Ken was a little impatient. We saw thousands of big round hay bales in the fields waiting for the ranchers to pick them up. Also, we knew there was lot of oil fields in Minot ND but there are hundreds and hundreds of oil wells from Dickinson past Williston. There were thousands of trailer houses and huts for the workers everywhere!!! A huge oil boom!! Very educational. The population of North Dakota I'm sure will greatly increase with all the workers. We crossed the border into Canada and drove to Weyburn SK. We camped at River Park Campground which is operated by the City of Weyburn. We walked about 10 blocks to visit Old Heritage Village which has several old houses, school, church, blacksmith shop, and lots and lots of beautiful flowers. We took the tour and enjoyed it a lot. We were surprised at the number of things that were similar to what we had growing up. Another great day for the Halversons.
We started out early today because we knew we had a lot of driving to do so it was raining as we got the trailer ready for traveling. After a few hours the rain stopped and we traveled highway 39 going north out of Weyburn SK. When we came to Moose Jaw we got on Trans Canada 1 and went through Swift Current and then Medicine Hat AB, home of the largest teepee in the world. We continued northwest on 1 through Brooks and then to Calgary. The Calgary Stampede was going on, so there was lots of activity related to that. We did not spend a whole lot of time in Calgary but if you want to have a good time, go to the Calgary Stampede. We talked with others and they said it was a great show. There are lots of other things in Calgary to see, shops, amusement parks, water slides, etc. We left Calgary and drove on to Canmore AB about 60 miles from Calgary and spent the night at Spring Creek Mountain Village. As you can see from the picture we are tucked in at the bottom of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The view is incredible. After a long day of driving we got checked in by Andrea and Carissa. They were very friendly and helpful and a great ambassador for their RV Village and the city of Canmore. We would definitely come back.
Halverson Happening for today: Alice survived Alberta's Rocky Mountain Route!! This trip up the mountain is not for the faint of heart. But we wanted to stop at Banff and Lake Louise. The only way is to go through Banff National Park and you have to pay the park entrance fee which was $19.80 for the two of us. We arrived at Banff early in the day so we did not stay long. It is a lovely town, however, but we drove on to Lake Louise. We got off the exit at Lake Louise and drove up the mountain pass to a spectacular view of the lake which is very green (aqua) in color. Lots of people canoeing and lots and lots of people from all over the world. We spent some time in Lake Louise and then Alice took a deep breath and went up the mountain via highway 93. To Alice's dismay about half way up the mountain right on top of a very, very high mountain there was road contraction and there was only one lane of traffic. We had to wait 93 seconds at the stop light but it seemed like ten minutes. Said a quick prayer and on we went. Ken had filled up our tank with octane gas before starting the drive up which was a great idea as for some reason we got great gas mileage!! Who would have thought!! We saw some big horn sheep and a small black bear on the way up. Finally arrived in Jasper and the mountain traveling for today was done!! Jasper is a great little town for shopping, etc. It was a great way to wind down after a stressful day!! Drove to Hinton on Highway 16 and stayed at the Hinton KOA. It is a treeless campsite, but okay for the one night. Staff was very helpful.
Today I was thankful we had remembered to bring along CD's as there are no radio stations on the way to Grand Cache and Grand Prairie. We traveled up highway 40 which is a wildlife sanctuary so there are lots of signs to watch for caribou. We didn't see any but we did see 8-9 elk grazing off in the distance. We arrived at Grand Prairie and stopped for gas and got onto Hwy 43 toward Dawson Creek BC. Stopped at Mile 0 Campground in Dawson Creek which is a nice campground with trees. We visited the Pioneer Park which is part of the campground. This is a good will donation and is well worth going to. We then put on our comfortable walking shoes, grabbed some bottled water and walked 1 1/2 miles into Dawson Creek. We stopped at the 0 Mile Marker (see attached picture) which is the beginning of the Alaskan Highway. We visited the museum which tells the history of building the road in 1942, It was well worth the visit. We then visited the art gallery in town and headed home. We then stopped at Robin's Donuts and Ken had to buy a dozen!! Delicious. Next stopped at Dave's No frills grocery store to get milk. This was a pleasant surprise as the store was well stocked, clean, and had lots of fresh produce. Arrived back at the campground for an evening of relaxation.
Got up early and it was 38 degrees out and raining. We started driving and it turned to sleet and then near Pink Mountain it was 35 degrees and it snowed!! We traveled to Fort Nelson. Stopped at visitor center and right across the street is a railway museum. Got back on the road and drove all the way to Muncho Lake Campground. It is a spectacular view. Turquoise colored lake with mountains as a backdrop. Breathtaking. Watched people boating and Ken asked about fishing but you need to get your fishing licenses from a government agency not at the resorts like in Minnesota. So no fishing for Ken. The owned said they usually go out fishing from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. and catch lots of fish. We sat and watched the view and then headed back to camper as it was too cold to stay out very long! No wi-fi at this access but a great site.
Started driving early and saw a bison right away along the road. Not long after we saw a brown bear, a black bear and then a whole herd of bison, between 60-70 all together, with lots of baby calves. Truly amazing. We kept seeing more wildlife until we got almost to Watson Lake. We stopped at Watson Lake to see the sign post. There are thousands and thousands of signs and license plates. We saw some from Minnesota and Wisconsin and took lots of pictures. Just amazing. We decided we would continue on to drive to Whitehorse YT. We got in around 4:00. We are staying the Pioneer RV park. It is right on the Alaskan Highway so there is easy access to it. We were put up on the upper so it was quiet. We unhooked the truck from the trailer and drove about ten minutes into town. We decided to go to church tonight as there was 5:00 p.m. mass at the cathedral. Sacred Heart Cathedral is a very small church. It was interesting to see all the different races and cultures in attendance. Only one block away is a old log church. Took a few pictures then drove around down town for awhile to see the locals, etc and returned home. Still a little chilly out but around 65 degrees. Good to be able to relax and enjoy the wooded site we have.
Left Whitehorse YT and headed toward Haines Junction. Within a short time saw a lynx run across the road so we thought we were in for a good day of travel. Got to Haines Junction and filled up with gas and a quick drive through the town. Shortly after leaving Haines Junction the roads are NOT GOOD!! I said it was like riding a horse that is trotting but Ken said it was like riding a roller coaster. Everyone we met at the rest stops along the way said the same thing!! All the way to the border you have dips in the road or road construction. Finally got to the U.S. border. Very happy to be back on good roads. WE MADE IT TO ALASKA!! Stopped for the night in Tok and stayed at the TOK RV camp. This is a pretty good campground and is close to town, so we walked the 1/2 mile to look around and then headed back to camp. We've met people from all over the U.S. and other countries. Camping is a great way to meet people.
Started driving and then just had to stop at North Pole AK which is only 12 miles from Fairbanks. This is Santa's house and has lots of Christmas things for all ages. Sometimes the reindeer are there, but we didn't see them today. This is where thousands of children write to Santa each year. It was a fun place to stop. The street lights in town are painted to look like candy canes. Fun, fun!!
Then on to Fairbanks and set up camp at River's Edge Resort. It is at the end of town, but close to Discovery Tours where we had reservations for a 2 o'clock paddle boat river cruise. The cruise is three hours and was very well narrated. As part of the cruise you get to see the cabin and the dogs of the late Susan Butcher. She was the only woman to win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race four times. She died of cancer a few years ago but her husband continues to train dogs. The tour guide talked with him via radio and we were able to watch them harness a team of ten dogs and then they took off pulling a four wheeler through the yards. They can go really fast--about 20 miles per hour. We were able to watch the dogs for about ten minutes. See the attached picture which shows the cabin and the dogs and their kennels. We traveled on and then the next stop was to learn about the Athabascan native tribes. We disembarked the boat and had a one hour guided tour led by native young women who talked about what their ancestors had to endure to live in this harsh climate. It is a great tour and we would recommend it to anyone going to Fairbanks.
Packed up the camper and then visited the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North. There were lots of native artifacts. We spent two hours touring, and learned lots of history about their cultures. See the picture of a some very large tusks and other animal parts from prehistoric animals which were one of the exhibits. Well worth stopping for!! Then got back in camper and headed toward Denali National Park. We are staying for two nights at the Denali Rainbow RV. It is convenient because it is only a mile from park, however, the sites are really close to one another and not much room to park vehicles. We decided to walk from the site, it was more like two miles to where we needed to go to get tickets for tomorrow, but it is a paved walkway and a walking bridge over the river. Got our tickets for a 12 hour bus trip tomorrow through Denali Park. Ken wants someone else to drive for awhile. Then we rode the shuttle bus to a sight about 20 minutes away by bus got out to look at a beautiful river and came back. Beautiful!! Got back and the bus driver told us we could catch a shuttle bus that would take us within five minutes of our campsite so that's what we did.
We had a very long day, but very rewarding. We started our Denali Adventure at 8:30 a.m. We saw 2 grizzly bears and then on the way home we saw a mother grizzly bear with two babies. At first the babies were just walking around but then the mother sat down and the two babies nursed; they got milk all over their face. It was adorable!! We also saw caribou, and lots of dahl sheep, but they were high on the mountain so most of them you had to have your binoculars to see them. The picture for today is far away and hard to see but it is the mother bear and the two babies!! Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America is sometimes visible from the road where we passed, but today was too cloudy so we were not able to see Mt. McKinley. A long day but saw things we might never see again and arrived back safely to Denali at 8:30 p.m.
Left Denali National Park and on the way to Anchorage, stopped for gas in Beaver Creek, but everyone for 90 miles was out of power so we had to drive on. Luckily, we had 120 miles left to go in the vehicle. So we drove on, finally got gas and drove through Wasilla, which is the hometown of Sarah Palin. We then stopped at our campsite in Anchorage at the Golden Nugget RV place. We got one of the last sites, as two big groups of campers are coming in. This campground has the sites really close together but it is close to downtown, so tomorrow we will get out and explore Anchorage. We got the oil changed in the truck, as we have almost 4,000 miles so far. In Minnesota we can get oil changed for $19.95, but here we had to pay $59.95 and that was cheaper that the first place we checked out!! Did laundry and will finally make use of our awning on the camper as the sun is shining!!
Anchorage is awesome!! We started out about 9:00 a.m. and walked about two blocks to the bus stop and bought day passes for only $3.00 because anyone over 60 gets a reduced rate. It was about a 25 minute ride to downtown. After walking around through downtown we stopped at Town Square Park. There are hundred of different kinds of flowers throughout that are absolutely gorgeous!!! They have so many hours of daylight that their flowers just grow huge. We then found our way to the Coastal Trail that follows Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet. The tide was out so it is mud flats. As we were walking we met three Anchorage policemen on bicycle patrol. They were very friendly and talked with us so we asked when the tide came in and they said around 5:25. We walked about three miles along the Coastal Trail and it is so serene and beautiful!! After our long walk, we worked up an appetite so we walked around until we came to a quaint little pizza place called Uncle Joe's Pizzeria. The pizza was very good, and the service was great. The manager came out to each of the customers and said hello. He recognized Ken's Cabela's cap from Minnesota. We would recommend Uncle Joe's Pizzeria if you are in Anchorage. After lunch we headed to Ulu Factory that makes Alaskan knives, since behind the factory is Ship Creek where the salmon run. There were lots of people standing in the water fly fishing for salmon. We watched for about one hour and saw people catching salmon. It was cool! We stood on the bridge that crosses the creek, and you can see the salmon as they pass by. After we got done watching the salmon fishing we had some homemade Alaskan ice cream in front of Ulu Factory. I had Fireweed Blueberry and Ken had Denali vanilla. Great!! Next we hopped on the free trolley and headed back downtown for more shopping and walking around. At 5:00 p.m. in Town Square they have free concerts in the park. We listed for about 10 minutes and then headed to Elderberry Park to watch the tide come in. Got there and saw the tide roll in and then headed to the bus stop for a return trip home. Got home about 7:00 p.m. A very interesting and fun day.
It is a beautiful drive along the Seward Highway. Arrived in Seward and are staying at Stoney Creek Campground about six miles outside of town. It is a very nice campground. Just enjoying this beautiful scenery.
Seward is superb!! We decided to stay in Seward a few more days as there is so much to see and do. We went to mass at Sacred Heart Church where in the winter months there is only 75 families. The music was great and we stayed after mass for coffee and donuts and to mingle with the members. It was a very warm and inviting parish. Then we went to Alaska Sea Life Center and spent a few hours learning about all different kinds of sea life. It was a good time. Next we toured all the different shops. Had lunch by Resurrection Bay and drove down a winding gravel road that follows Resurrection Bay. Saw four or five porpoises. Great views!! Next, we headed about four miles out of town turn left and then another 8.5 miles to Exit Glacier. You park your vehicle and then you have to walk to see an up close view of the glacier. It is a 1.8 mile hike one way on a rocky path that goes up and up, but there are benches along the way to take a rest. We reached the end and the view of the glacier is stunning!! Worth the long walk up. After enjoying the scenery for awhile, we headed down the glacier. The visit to Exit Glacier is free and well worth the hike to see!!
Enjoyed an all day Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise through Major Marine Tours. We saw 6-7 humpback whales, lots of porpoises, sea lions, eagles and glaciers. We got to visit the captain's wheelhouse and talk with Captain Nicole. The crew of the ship were all great!! We had a great day and would recommend Major Marine Tours.
Left Seward and headed toward Soldotna. Stopped along the Kenai River and watched lots of kids, men, women all salmon fishing along the river. The salmon fishing has been great according to the locals. After watching them for a few hours, we drove down to Ninilchik and will be staying at the Angler Resort so Ken can go halibut fishing tomorrow. After setting up our camp site we walked about 1 1/2 miles to a historic Russian Orthodox church and talked with an elderly Russian woman who happened to be vacuuming the church which is still in use today but only a few members. She told us Ninilchik started out as a Russian retirement community where the men who had married local women and had families wanted to remain because they could go back to Russia, but their families were not welcome. So that's how it got started way back in the 1800's. After a great visit with her, we started walking and saw a sign for boat harbor so we walked on and came to the harbor where commercial fishermen park their boats after a day's catch. When we first got to the beach, there were lots of boats out on the river, but around 3:30 all the boats come in to the harbor at about the same time. What a madhouse! It was great fun to watch them all scramble to find a spot to park the boat. They don't have docks, just hook up to each other. Then they unload their catch (salmon)and pack them in coolers and head home. It was a great time watching them. Then headed back to camper about five miles from when we left but a great way to see Ninilchik.
Ken had a fun day fishing for halibut. Fished for abut six hours on a charter with a total of eight guys. Everyone got their limit which is two. Attached is a picture of most of the fish. Ken got one of the bigger ones and one smaller one, but none were really big. Got 10 pounds of filets. Alice did laundry and hung out at campsite. computer.
Drove 40 miles or so to Homer then toured the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. This is a free center run by the Fish and Wildlife. We watched two videos about different sea life and learned about tides. Then we went on a one hour guided tour along the Beluga Slough. The narrator of the guided tour showed us lots of interesting things about sloughs, the tides, the volcanoes in the background and the vegetation. Very educational. A good stop and learned a bot. Homer has one of the highest tide changes in the world. From morning to night, it can change up to 24 feet!! We walked the beach in the morning and later after the tide was in, the water covered where we had walked. From there we drove to the Homer Spit and parked at the very end of the road and then watched fishermen unload their huge nets of hundreds of fish at The Fish Factory. They had some really, really big halibut. 40 percent of all seafood for the United States comes from Alaska. We watched for about one hour and then walked along the Homer Spit. It is unbelievable. There are lots and lots of very creative, unusual buildings and businesses. Spent the whole day just walking about and watching the ocean and all its beauty.
Ken's second day of halibut fishing was great. He got a 45 pound halibut per the captain. He also got a 20 pounder. We got lots of fish to put in our freezer. We're going to have halibut on the grill tonight. That's what Ken came to Alaska for!! We're happy travelers!!!
Haven't had access to internet for a few days so I will start with Saturday 7/27. Drove to Soldotna to enjoy their Progress Days. Saw hundreds of people salmon fishing along Kenai River!! Then watched the parade at 11:00 a.m. then went to a rodeo in the afternoon. It was a great small town rodeo. Lots of things we don't have where we come from. There were even cow girls in the roping contest and one on the junior bulls!!! They also had a trick horse riding group of young people from ages 15 to 17. They did lots of tricks on horses and a pyramid at the end of which I didn't get a real good picture, but see attached. They were incredible.
On Sunday we went to mass at 9:00 then drove to Palmer. We stayed at Matanuska River Campground just outside of town. It was a fabulous site. Lots of grass and trees and only $15 with electric. On Monday July 29 we drove to Valdez. The drive from Palmer to Valdez is incredibly beautiful. Lots of mountains, glaciers, and saw one moose. We will be in Valdez for three nights.
Ken got up early to go salmon fishing near Prince William Sound with three other guys on a charter. They came back with 20 fish, the most they could have gotten was 24. He had a good time. While Ken was out fishing Alice walked around town and found this amazing statue. It is called Trail of Whispering Giants, sculpted by Peter Toth, as a tribute to American Indians. From 1971 to October 1981 when this one was completed, he had sculpted 70 different ones in all 50 states and Canada and Hungary. The statute is 30 feet tall, ten feet wide and made of Alaskan Sitka Spruce and weighs 85,000 pounds. Truly amazing. WE also watched a video on the 1964 Alaskan Earthquake, measuring 9.2 on the Richter Scale, the largest ever in North America. Also watched a video on the Trans Alaskan Pipeline which was very informative. We had no idea how difficult it was to build and all the engineering involved to make it happen. Definitely an eye opener.
We went river rafting today on the Lowe River in Keystone Canyon and then embarked from our raft and got to stand under Bridal Falls outside Valdez. See the attached picture. It was exhilarating! It was a level 3 white water, so not too scary, but enough to get wet several times. A real blast! We booked it through Pangaea Adventures. The guide was great and so was all the staff. The other rafters along with us were from Israel, Germany, and San Diego-- great young adults!! Even though we were the oldest ones by far rafting, no matter how old you are, you are never too old to try something fun!!
Sadly, we left Alaska and started for home. After leaving Valdez I took some pictures of the Alaskan Pipeline. The pipes are four feet around and they go from Valdez all the way to Prudoe Bay. We drove from Valdez to Beaver Creek YT which is a short distance into Canada -- about eight hours of driving. We are staying at Westmark RV which is just off the highway but you get to choose your site so we are parked in a pull through site in the back facing a woods so it works great. We are just relaxing and unwinding after a long day on the road.
Our day started out early as we have a long drive today. First we saw five wild mustangs and about 100 miles outside of Watson Lake on the way to Muncho Lake we saw a big herd of bison--about 100 of them. I got some really good pictures. We drove a little farther and saw one laying down on the grass and then one bison walking along the road. I rolled down the window and got a great picture--I could almost touch him but I didn't want to because he had hundred and hundreds of mosquitoes around his head. Later we saw a young caribou (see attached) and a few stone sheep. All in all it was a great day for wildlife viewing. Driving past Muncho Lake is the most beautiful lake you will ever see. We traveled on to Fort Nelson and am staying at the Triple G Hideaway Resort right off the highway at the end of town. Lots of mosquitoes!! We'll walk to town and explore downtown tonight.
We drove for about 8 hours today and ended up at Teslin YT. We are staying at Yukon RV & Motel. It is a pull through site and we are close to the lake. Owners are very nice and sites are fairly big. We visited the free Yukon Wildlife Museum, which was great. The attached statute sits outside the building and right before you cross the long bridge. Then we did the walking tour through the town. The village of Teslin is made up of primarily Tlignit natives. We saw an old museum, an old Anglican Church, and lots of the houses of the natives which are usually quite small by U.S. standards. It is a quiet, quaint village and we enjoyed the people and our stay.
Last night we stayed at a provincial park run by Alberta government outside Grand Prairie. They have a boat launch, large lots and was very busy with lots of families and lots of barking dogs. They did quiet down around 9:30 so we slept well. Got up early and set out for Saskatoon. Nothing too spectacular to view along the way, but I did take a picture of this statute of Royal Canadian Mounted police. Drove through Edmonton and headed south on highway 16 toward Saskatoon SK. We nearly ran out of gas, pulled in a gas station outside of Saskatoon right as it turned to zero miles left in tank. Too close for comfort! The gas stations are a long ways apart on highway 16. Spending the night at Saskatoon 16 West Campground just off highway 16, 1.5 km outside of town. The young lady at the office was very nice and very helpful. The campsites have lots of trees, are level and are well taken care of. We would recommend this. It is close to town if you want to go into town but we didn't want to hit rush hour traffic, so it worked well for us. Only two more days before we get back to Minnesota.
We drove to Drake ND and parked at the city campground on 8-6. Drake is a a very small town. Walked to the hardware store and walked around town. Very quiet town. Got up early and finished our drive back home. After a long road trip we are back home. We were gone for 32 days, traveled 7,776 miles and got 10.1 miles per gallon, averaging $4.57 per gallon. The memories and education we learned was priceless!!