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This traveling band is made up of Dick and Winkie, along with their faithful German Sheppard, Zac. We will be on the road in an Arctic Fox truck camper. Looking for natural history, cultural diversity and outdoor activities, including fishing, hiking and kayaking.
We left home on May 23rd. As we travel north to Alaska we will make brief stops in the Black Hills, Banff and Lake Louise. We will be arriving in Prince Rupert on June 6th to catch the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry for 2 weeks of Inland Passage travel. Our stops include Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Juneau and Skagway. Next stops include Whitehorse and up the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks en route to camp at the Savage River Campground in Denali National Park and Preserve. Our 5 days there include celebrating the 4th of July!
We will be exploring Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula for the following 3 weeks. No reservations for this part. Just want to explore. The last week of July we will be heading North on the Glenn Highway, over the Tok Cutoff and the Taylor Highway, through Chicken and Eagle on our way to Dawson City. After this leg we will head home through Watson Lake and via the Alaska Highway to Dawson Creek. We plan to be home by the middle of August.
Click on the points on the map to see what we did at each location.
No trip across country would be complete without a stop in the Black Hills and a visit to Mount Rushmore. In addition to the spectacular monument itself, Borglum’s studio and the museum chronicle the construction of this iconic American experience. Also not to be missed is the Crazy Horse Monument and Native American cultural Center just down the road.
Interesting and moving experience telling both sides of Custer’s last stand. The battlefield includes monuments to both the 7th Cavalry and the Indian tribes who fought there. Worth the stop as you travel through Montana.
This was a real find as we traveled through Montana. Located in Great Falls, the museum chronicles Russell’s entire career from working cowboy to America’s cowboy artist. It houses the largest permanent collection of his paintings and sculptures in the world. Don’t miss it on your way to Alaska. The image is of his original studio.
After weeks of anxious anticipation, the entrance into Canada turned out to be a non-event. Even with Zac barking incessantly in the back seat at the RCMP officer, four questions and we were in Canada.
1 Grizzly, 4 Black Bears, 1 Elk, numerous Deer. Unfortunately our wildlife photography skills are weak and we will attempt to do better in the future.
Designated one of the 10 Best Scenic Drives in the World – It's for real. Mile after mile of spectacular scenery interspersed with wildlife sightings.
Tallest peak in British Columbia (3,954 meters/ 12,978 ft.). The photo says it all, but can’t wait to get to Alaska and see some real mountains.
A hidden jewel recommended by the Mt. Robson Visitors Center. Don’t blink or you will miss the small sign for the Ancient Forest (1 km ahead) 113 km east of Prince George on Trans Canada Highway 16. Old growth cedar rain forest habitat with trees over 1500 years old. It’s like hiking through Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs.
Final stop in BC before catching the ferry to Ketchikan. Took a fascinating tour of the North Pacific Cannery, built in 1889. Very tough way to make a living working on the salmon packing lines at the turn of the century.
Finally reached Alaska and it’s rained since we arrived. Taking the ferry to Prince of Wales island tomorrow where we hope to be “Off the Grid” for the next week.
Just returned from 5 days on Prince of Wales Island. What a treat! This is the Alaska you don’t see on the cruise ships. Spectacular scenery, lots of wildlife, friendly people and fascinating native culture.
Somewhat of a misnomer as they only have 2 sites available for transient campers. We had the waterfront site, no more than 10 ft. from the high tide line. What a view to wake up to. Hospitality was exceptional and two of the seasonal people gave us King Salmon and Dungeness Crab fresh from the bay.
Totem park has 20+ poles. Met the master carver, John Rowlan, at the Klawock carving shed. He took the time to explain the process and showed us the hand tools used to create these massive pieces of art.
Visited the Riggin Shack and Bait Box where we had the best burger we’ve had in years.
Saw several black bears including a mother with 4 cubs, Bald Eagles perched in the trees next to our camper and black tail Sitka deer were everywhere. Unfortunately, the deer were the only ones that would stand still long enough to photograph.
½ mile adventure walk through the forest with our bear spray at the ready (locals said black bears are active in the area) to the oldest Whale/Clan house in Alaska surrounded by totems from the late 1880’s. Absolutely incredible.
After a great lecture from the Park Historian we took a brisk hike up to the edge of Nugget Falls and a closer view of the Glacier. Drain that lake and the Glacier face would be 400’ top to bottom. Hard to fathom an ice field the size of Rhode Island!
Loved Skagway and its history. Gateway to the Klondike gold fields in 1897-98. Historic buildings galore compliments of the US Dept. of the Interior. Most unique the Arctic Brotherhood, Skagway Camp #1. A secret fraternal order, the only requirement for membership was to survive the brutal trek to the goldfields in Dawson City, Yukon.
Finally found a bear close enough to photograph. No telephoto lens here, cell phone out the window of the truck.
Spectacular scenery never stops. Border crossing on the Klondike Highway at Fraser, BC.
Another one of those “World’s Largest” things. This DC-3 is the World’s Largest weathervane. Wouldn’t it look great on the roof of your house? Great museum inside on the history of transportation in this part of Canada. Sleds, trains, planes and autos.
We found a wilderness site right next to the Lake at Congdon Creek, Yukon Territory.
Boy was this a find! This gorgeous lake is nestled in the foothills of the St. Elias Mountain Range. The range includes the Kluane National Park which is home to 12 glaciers and Mt. Logan, the tallest mountain in the Yukon at 19,500’. The visitor center at Haines Junction houses a great First Nations art exhibit.
The northern terminus of the fabled Al-Can Highway. Eight months to complete and a lifetime of reconstruction due to the permafrost.
Nice view for a pull out on the Alaska Highway.
Another “World’s Largest” attraction! The World’s Largest Gold Pan.
Outstanding array of native, early century and contemporary art. Not to miss are the University reasearch sections on early excavations and dinosaur digs. Took a trip down the Chena River on a paddleboat. Sounds hokie but really was a great view. Stopped at a classic Apathascan First Nations village and Susan Butcher's Iditarod dog training center.
First day in Denali. Note the knit hat and gloves. July 1st, 41 degrees and raining.
The picture says it all. Headed to Denali National Park and will be off the grid for the next week. Look for our next posts about July 7th from Anchorage.
Only 23% of visitors to the park actually see the mountain. We saw it 4 out of 6 days. Magnificent sight.
On the shuttle bus into the park for the Discovery Hike, we scored the Denali Slam ( viewed several grizzlies, wolves, moose, caribou and Dall Sheep.
Up close and very personal with the Tundra at 64 miles into the Park. We hiked with an Environmental Ranger (from UVA!) off trail for most of the day. Great way to experience the terrain and watch two grizzlies during attempted courtship.
Found this funky little spot off the road where the Denali mountaineers stage their ascent to the summit. We discovered this fabulous café just outside of town. Meals straight out of “Bon Appetite.”
Located just outside of Wasilla we stopped to take a ride on a sled pulled by 8 Alaska Huskies. No snow but you really get a feel for the speed. The museum helps you get a perspective on the breed and training for this great race.
The largest museum in Alaska. The Smithsonian Institute’s gallery on the various regional native cultures is huge and well worth the 2 hours to review. A recent installation on Capt. Cook’s explorations, including his ship’s journal is fascinating. Great place for lunch…Reindeer gumbo!
If you have any interest in the history of the bush pilots who opened up Alaska, this museum is for you. The stories of these pioneer pilots are fascinating. It appears that if they survived past 30 they started an airline that eventually ended up as Alaska Airlines. An added plus is a view of Lake Hood, the world’s largest seaplane base, and the constant landing and taking off of the Alaskan bush pilots.
What a jewel this spot was. Just driving along looking for a spot for the night. During vacation time, or rather when the salmon are running, last minute weekend sites are a premium on the Kenai Peninsula. Kept driving south and found this Federal campground tucked in the forest and right on the lake. Lots of warnings about bears but with Zac on duty we have our own early warning device!
Can’t believe this view from the back door of the camper which is Resurrection Bay and just few more glaciers. Seward, small town with a big history and home to the Alaska Sealife Center. So much to see at the Center that your ticket allows you come and go entry all day. The Center is part of the national network of marine study centers and houses everything from fossils to aquariums, sea mammals and a bird enclosure filled with puffins and sea birds.
Spent two days at the Russian River Campground in the Chugach National Forest “fly fishing” for Sockeye Salmon. I use fishing loosely because it’s a form of restrictive snagging. You must use a salmon fly, but can fish with any type of fishing gear, spinning, bait casting or fly rod. The idea is to cast your fly into the river so that the salmon swimming upstream with it’s mouth open will catch your line and the fly will snag it in the mouth. For some reason, if you snag it anywhere else but in the mouth it must be released. Who knows why, snagging is snagging. To date we have not figured out the concept and there are no Sockeye Salmon in our cooler.
Four volcanoes line the Cook Inlet, the last eruption as late as 2009. This is the “Redoubt” volcano 60 miles across the inlet viewed from our camp.
The tidal change in Homer is larger than any port in the lower 48 (can be as great as 24 feet) . Camped on the Homer Spit with Kachemak Bay only a few feet from our camper at high tide. Image is low tide looking back to our camper, the one with the flag on the left edge of the red building.
The “helicopter view” from the highest bluff overlooking the town. The "Homer Spit" juts into Kachemak Bay 4 miles. The town is a mix of art colony and fishing village. The "Fishing Hole Campground" at the end of the spit was our home for 5 days.
A local institution established in 1957. A real saloon by all counts. Stopped in for lunch only to learn from the bartender the “We really don’t serve food, at least not good food!” Left with several souvenir tee shirts for the gang back home.
Caught 4 nice Silver Salmon behind our camper on Kachemak Bay. Delicious grilled fresh. Can you tell we really liked Homer?
Tried for a halibut charter today but 15-20 knot winds kept us off the inlet. Visited the “Transfiguration of Our Lord Church” (Russian Orthodox) a reminder of the Russian settlements in the 1700’s.
So much more than the Exxon Disaster and the terminus of the Pipeline. This little village has exquisite views, friendly folks, gutsy history and more fun than we could have imagined. Best of all…no cruise ships in port. Old Valdez was destroyed in '64 by a 9.2 earthquake followed by a tsunami. Founding fathers donated their personal land to found a new Valdez about 4 miles away and the town was rebuilt by the former residents. Gotta admire their hometown spirit.
On the Richardson Highway headed to Valdez this big guy is a show stopper. Views like this can make a 100 mile trip take half a day and they are frequent
It is one thing to read about the salmon and the unanswered migration home to spawn but quite another to actually see the process in action. This hatchery is part of a species preservation project that ensures that Pinks and Coho’s in the area will continue to thrive. Two million Pinks and 200,000 Coho’s are released from the hatchery each year and yes, they all try to return at one time!!!
Holy Smokes! This was unbelievable in every way. The huge Columbia Glacier is calving ice burgs all the time and kayakers just cruise around the bay watching. The ice burgs spend about a day in the bay rolling, turning and breaking up. Something to see, but not up too close. Wonderful day concluded with a paddle to a boreal forest and alpine lake not too far away. Again, we lucked out with a great naturalist guide.
Another great day with a female Charter Captain straight out of Seinfeld. Hauling in the fish was our last big hurrah for our Alaska adventure. Can’t wait to smoke some of these babies.
No easy task to exit Alaska and enter Canada to head back home. The Top of the World Highway extends about 60 miles from the Alaska/Canadian border to Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Four thousand feet up and gravel/washboard road. Makes you feel like you are driving on the moon!
Well worth the trek to get here including crossing the Yukon River on a very small ferry. Rich in gold mining history this place has it all from Jack London’s cabin; Robert Services’ home and a fabulous museum. Not to mention a beautifully restored private historic community. Main Street is still the only paved road in the town. Outside of town the landscape changes to gravel trailings where the massive gold dredges have scarped miles of terrain. Though the large corporations have stopped, several individuals are still mining.
Stopped for a day and stayed two. This place is heaven. Right in the middle of heavy bear country this Park is not to be missed. The hot springs complex is of national ecological significance and is well known for its natural setting in a lush boreal spruce forest. The water temperature range from 108 to 126 F., best to get in downstream and slowly work your way toward to the source. Great place to rest on a long trip.
Herds of the protected Wood Bison roam the Alcan Highway causing traffic delays.
Though this is the official start spot of the famous highway, it marked the end of our covering the entire 1,422 miles. An unbelievable feat to build it during ’42 as part of a WWII effort. Eight months to finish and a lifetime of constant repairs.
Not something you see every day. 80,000 signs placed there by travelers on the Alcan Highway, starting with the first one placed there in 1942 by a homesick soldier building the road. Plenty of room for more.
Crossed the “boundary” back into the USA at the Portal into North Dakota. Greeted with 99 degrees and fields of Sunflowers stretching for miles. A warm welcome home and a gorgeous sight!!! What a wonderful adventure. Happy to return home safe and sound.