Our Alaska Trip Part XX Even Farther Northward

This entry is part 22 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 13, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 5 Comments

This is the 20th in a continuing series about our trip to Alaska

In case I didn’t mention it lately, the rumors are true. Alaska is a beautiful state.  Tuesday morning we left Anchorage in a light rain … destination:  Seward on the Kenai Peninsula (pronounced “Keen-Eye, equal stress on the syllables).

After leaving Alaska’s largest city, we found ourselves driving on another postcard-quality road, the Seward Highway South.  On our left were steep forested mountains featuring numerous glaciers at various elevations.  At one point, a glacier sat just above a lagoon, actually at sea level.

How do we know it was sea level?  Because on our right was a fjord, apparently in the Turnagain Arm of Prince William Sound.  Absolutely stunning, even in the dismal weather that followed us for our entire route today.  When we drove along the shore, the water was high, but the fjord is known for having the third largest “bore tide” in the world, a change of 28 feet.

Ivan Yurtin feels welcome in Barrow

Ivan Yurtin feels welcome in Barrow

And now to today’s theme (one of the three I mentioned in Part XIX:  Even Farther Northward).  A feature of our caravan provides opportunities to enjoy unscripted side trips, like the one that Ivan and Shirley Yurtin took to Port Barrow on the Arctic Ocean.  Since only a small percentage of Alaskan travelers have or will endure that journey, I’m excerpting parts of their journal for you.

 Ivan and Shirley’s Story

The Yurtins

The Yurtins

“As we approached Point Barrow from the air, we first noticed that the lakes were frozen. As we descended the next significant thing we noticed was that there were no trees or shrubs as far as you could see … it was only flat tundra.

An Airline Terminal that's definitely at the terminal

An Airline Terminal that’s definitely at the terminal

“The airport terminal is an old, blue metal commercial building that looks like a factory. The shuttle driver drove us to the Top of the World Hotel, a long two-story building that has simple rooms.

“We had dinner at Pepe’s Restaurant next door that is run by 81-year-old Fran, who has lived in Point Barrow for over 40 years.  She had a restaurant in her home for years but now manages Pepe’s.  She also leads tourists down to the ocean at 5:30 p.m. each day for a dunk in the Arctic.  In order to qualify you must submerge completely in the frigid Arctic.  For doing so, you must pay $10 and will receive a patch and certificate from the Polar Bear Club.  Fran has made the plunge many times and tried to get 80 of her friends to join her last year for her 80th birthday.  She was only able to convince 67 brave souls to do it with her.

Ready for a dip

Ready for a dip

“The Mexican meal of enchiladas was good.  Afterwards we roamed the immediate area for photos—including those along the ice buildup in the ocean. We noticed that parking spaces for workers at the bank, police department and other businesses had electrical cords in each space to plug in engine heaters.  None of the roads in town are paved—they

Downtown Barrow

Downtown Barrow

consist of powdered dust that billows every time a car passes.  Four-wheeler ATVs are also a common form of transportation.

“Our tour guide, Bana, is a native Inupiat Eskimo. He said that the population of the whole area is 4,500 and one-fourth of the population is under the age of 18 years.  The village hunts whale for food and harvests about 34 whales each year to feed the village.  The Inupiat are not allowed to harvest whales

to sell … only to feed the village. The whale harvest is in the early spring and late fall.  Whale meat is either eaten boiled or frozen raw.”

Ivan had a chance to eat some of the raw whale meat, reporting that it tasted a little fishy.
Air Force Radar Command

“They only get about 13 inches of snow and 8 inches of rain a year, but it is a very cold and dry environment.  It is very cloudy most of the summer with only five days of sunshine. The temperature during our visit ranged from 30 to 36 degrees F and it was cold and windy.  The Inupiat Eskimo Corporations control most of the utilities and government offices.

“The city has several gas wells that supply the heating for the village. The village has one fairly large grocery store and one gasoline station.  Gasoline is delivered to Barrow once a year in August.  In our visit to the grocery store the price for a gallon of milk was $10 and the price of a dozen eggs was $8.

“On our tour we saw a Snow Owl and the Tundra Swans. We got to visit the Inupiat Heritage Center where the local Eskimos performed their native dances for us.  We were then invited to join them in their local dances, which we did.  It was very enjoyable.

The Blanket Toss“There were enough people so we all joined in for the Blanket Toss.  A large blanket made of whale skin is woven with rope around the outer edge for handles. About 25-30 people hold the perimeter of the blanket while a person is in the middle of it.  The blanket is pulled outward and the person in the blanket is propelled upward and can reach heights of 20-30 feet.  This is used to be able to see whales and game at far distances, since there are no trees on the Tundra.

Shirley under the Whale Bone Arch -- St. Louie, eat your heart out!

Shirley under the Whale Bone Arch — St. Louie, eat your heart out!

“Bana, our tour guide, drove us to the airport and we bid him farewell.  It was a packed full day of facts and adventure trying to understand how these people survive under extreme conditions.  We sure were glad to be back to our RV with all the modern conveniences.”

Thanks, Ivan and Shirley.  Sorry we missed that trip.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

 

Comments

5 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XX Even Farther Northward”

▪.  alpenliter on July 14th, 2010 5:25 pm  
Thank you for another interesting chapter in your adventure blog! I particularly liked the blanket toss info. I always thought they did it out of boredom. Not too many carnivals pass their way!

▪.  Bill Forrest on July 14th, 2010 8:43 pm  
I have really enjoyed this series of your Alaska trip. I have been there a few times by boat, air, and cruise but never to these many places you write about.
Thanks for sharing. For me and my motorhome I will just stay down here and read your articles. 
Bebop Bill

▪.  Virgil Owen on July 15th, 2010 12:22 am  
I have also enjoyed your articles. I live in Kenai and this is the year to come and visit. It is not as busy as it usually is. The people are amazing. The view is unbelievable. The fishing is beyond your imagine.

▪.  Gary on July 15th, 2010 2:03 pm  
 Wanted to do the same trip, but finances have dictated otherwise. But I do believe it is pronounced “key nigh” But I could be mistaken. Naw, I’m right.

▪.  Lynne schlumpf on July 13th, 2010 11:23 pm  
What a great post! I’ve never been to Barrow, but I have been to some pretty “out there” places. Alaska is so amazing, and the people of Alaska more amazing still.

Our Alaska Trip Part XXI Two Days of Snapshots

This entry is part 23 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 16, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 4 Comments (see note at end)

 This is the 21st in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

There are all kinds of ways of to enjoy your trip through Canada and into Alaska, much of it governed by finances and time constraints.  By being part of a caravan that includes excursions of all sorts, we have seen things we would have never signed up for if we thought about cost.  Those excursions were paid for as part of the charge to join the group.

And, when there’s nothing scheduled, like today, we see other sights of wonder.  Yesterday at Seward, we first visited the Alaska SeaLife Center and then we boarded the Star of the Northwest tour boat for a cruise around Resurrection Bay.  Here are a few photos from those two caravan-scheduled trips.

Visiting Sea Lions at the Alaska SeaLife Center

Visiting Sea Lions at the Alaska SeaLife Center

Sea LionKing, left, and Eaglet on the Rocks

Sea LionKing, left, and Eaglet on the Rocks

According to the skipper of our boat, the sighting of the whale was fortunate, but the performance put on by the humpback whale was a first for him.  At the beginning, the whale showed his back above the bay and then went under for a few minutes.

The Amazing Performing Whale

The Amazing Performing Whale

Suddenly, he came up out of the water (breaching) and fell back.  One pectoral fin above the waves, then another, back and forth, waving to us.  Then another few breaches, a few shows of his tail (flukes), and he was gone.  But wait … he resurfaced and bid us goodbye with a wave of his fin.  Monique, who has been to Hawaii several times, where seeing whales is a normal daily event, has never seen antics like this.

Today we were on our own, and despite being in the throes of a cold that has me coughing and sniffling and despite our being engulfed in gloomy weather, we headed out for a relatively easy hike up to Exit Glacier.  Somehow the Sun knew we would appreciate seeing the glacier in bright light, so the clouds parted for a few minutes.

 

Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay

Puffins-9213

Rather than take the Ranger-tour of the glacier, we opted to just explore on our own.  Along the way, I asked a teenage boy if I could take a photo of his “The Last Frontier” T-shirt, which I feel says a lot about Alaska.  He consented, and it turned into a story in itself.

Marco Moriarity was visiting Exit Glacier with parents Tom and Monica from Minnesota.

Marco

Marco

Marco, whose Siberia Yupak name is Esla, was born in Nome and adopted by the Moriaritys five years ago.  They have returned so he can stay in touch with his native land.

Tom said Marco has adapted well to his life in Minnesota, where he plays hockey, is a Boy Scout and on the school archery team.  More photos from today:

 

The Exit Glacier has Receded Miles in the Past 100 Years.  As awe-inspiring as this photo is, it's not the same as being there!

The Exit Glacier has Receded Miles in the Past 100 Years. As awe-inspiring as this photo is, it’s not the same as being there!

A blue glow emanates from holes in the ice.  It's a color I wish we could take with us on our travels.

A blue glow emanates from holes in the ice. It’s a color I wish we could take with us on our travels.

Monique and I often get into conversations with locals and tourists we meet in our travels.  We consider it to be a real enrichment of our lives on the road.  My advice on doing this is to ask and listen.  Sometimes the talk is about RV rigs and places to visit, but every now and then we strike gold by hearing great stories about why the people are there.  No long-term relationships, just interesting stories.

Before closing this edition, I want to give a special “thank you.”  I, Barry, am a writer and photographer.  So many of these articles are in the first person singular.  But please understand, much of the quality of these blogs can be attributed to Monique, a wise editor, who often asks, “Why did you put that in the article.  It doesn’t belong there.”  She wins approximately 93 percent of the time.  So, on behalf of the readers of this series, “Thank you, Monique.”

 From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

P.S.  If the lack of Medicare doctors in Alaska is of concern to you, I strongly suggest you read the comments to the article that ran previously.  Lynne has covered the subject well and others have added to the discussion.

Comments

4 Responses* to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXI 2 Days of Snapshots”

▪.  Michael Belock on July 16th, 2010 4:38 pm  
Did you make it to Fox Island?

▪.  Jerry X Shea on July 16th, 2010 4:48 pm  
You guys are having the time of your life up there. Good for you. It was just last year that we did our 4-month trip. We loved Seward. It was one of our first stops and we went back 3 months later before we headed out via the inland passage.

▪.  Ralph Thomas on October 22nd, 2011 8:45 pm  
My wife and I and our Boston Terrier have made two trips to Alaska , one in a motorhome and one with our 24RBSL Kodiak towed with my F 250 SD 7.3 4×4 , either way is great. We have also traveled most of western and eastern Canada including Newfoundland. We always travel independent stopping when, where and for how long we want to, I never felt like I was cut out for the caravan thing but I’m sure it’s great for some. Anyway you go about it (as long as you prepare) RVing is just a great way to see the country and of course Canada.

▪.  * The system says “4 responses.”  Not that you probably noticed or care, but often the numbers don’t gibe.  I’ve deleted some comments that are commercials for make-up, insurance, etc., which only ruin it for readers.  In the hundreds of comments to this series, I can only remember about one or two that I would consider negative or unfair – you folks are wonderful – and I’ve left those in rather than only show the positive opinions.  As for this blog, I don’t know what happened to the 4th one.

Our Alaska Trip Part XXII News from the Homer-front

This entry is part 24 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 18, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 10 Comments

This is the 22nd in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

NEWS FLASH!!!   The Top of the World Hwy., Alaska Hwy 9, is closed for an undetermined time due to a washout.  You may know more about this than we do since the news didn’t reach us until Saturday while we were at an overlook in Homer, Alaska, when we got into a conversation with a couple planning to take the notorious route home.

The official Alaskan road conditions website [http://www.511yukon.ca/#advisories] Saturday night stated:  Highway 9, the Top of the World Highway, motorists are advised that the Taylor Highway in Alaska is closed from the Yukon/Alaska border through to Chicken due to washouts. Re-opening of the highway has not been determined, as water levels have not started to recede.

View from TOW 2 - 8120

Our caravan crew hasn’t been able to find out anything more current.  We took that road June 30 without incidents, although we were warned that it is hazardous driving.  A few days earlier, we talked with a two-RV group that had decided to turn back rather than risk driving that road.

Now for some random observations by Monique and me, jotted down before finding out about the Top of the World situation:

We are in mid-July.  The short-sleeve weather here is perfect almost everyday, with intermittent overcast skies.  Our travels for the past week or more have taken us down highways lined with wildflowers of every color, highlighted by the magenta fireweed, blue-purple lupines and white cow parsnip.  You may not be into appreciating weeds, but the colors are overwhelming.

En route to Homer: Mt. Redoubt in Lake Clark National Park & Deacon Andre in Ninilchik

En route to Homer: Mt. Redoubt in Lake Clark National Park & Deacon Andre in Ninilchik

We continue to see endless lines of RVs on the roads, many of which are rental C-Class rigs, apparently picked up by tourists from the Lower 48 and foreign countries who flew into Alaska or Canada.  Unfortunately, it seems that the high traveling population is

Carved Creature Hiding at the Sterling Saw Fest

Carved Creature Hiding at the Sterling Saw Fest

reducing the number of moose to be ogled.  In Fairbanks a sign states that vehicles there have killed 225 moose this year with another 170 hit in the small City of Sterling.

The Alaskan roads are really much better than we expected, even in the Interior.  There is construction and it causes problems, but it’s not something that stops people from loving the adventure.  There are no Interstate Highways in Alaska for an obvious reason.

Mosquitoes – no big problem this season.  We had to go looking for them Saturday in the bog area of the Carl Wynn Nature Center in the hills above Homer.   Matter-of-fact, all the mosquitoes in Alaska may be in those few acres of marsh … but not something that should stop you from hiking the nature center.

IGarden Mts - 0334

Each day since June 20 we have lost 3½ to 4 minutes of daylight.  Doesn’t sound like much, but multiply that by a seven-day week and you can tell the days are getting shorter from their 19-hour maximum.

In the Lower 48 we hear all-too-often, “If you don’t like the weather here right now, just wait five minutes.”  We laugh politely and groan to ourselves.

Hundreds of RVs Park on the Homer Spi

Hundreds of RVs Park on the Homer Spit

When you’re in Northwest Canada and Alaska, try to limit yourself to only making a joke once about “we’ll do that when it gets dark,” being cute about the fact that it doesn’t get dark in mid-summer.  Also, everyone here knows it gets cold in the winter.  In the play and movie “The Music Man,” it was explained that you won’t get accepted in the community if you joke about winter there.  Comments about winter get a cold reception here, too.

One caravanning note since that’s the focus of these blogs.  We had a wonderful day Thursday going to Exit Glacier and going into town for a halibut dinner.  Others did the same on their own.  Still more went on a fishing trip and a few couples ventured out for another cruise.  Except for the dismal day fishing, everyone seemed to enjoy the course they set for themselves.  While we enjoy the community, we also enjoy the chance to get away from the entourage to do our own thing.

We are in Homer, a town that borders on the beautiful Kachemak Bay on Cook Inlet.  If that weren’t spectacular enough, everywhere we look we see the incredible Aleutian Range with its snowy mountains, volcanoes and glaciers.  On this rainy Sunday morning, we’re heading out across the bay.

[A NOTE WRITTEN TWO YEARS LATER:  Re-reading these blogs is rekindling my memories of this fantastic trip.  It’s easy for the splendor, the grandeur, the majesty, the beauty to fade over the years.  I hope you’re enjoying this trip as much as I am.]

Homer Spit Scenes: the Boneyard & the Huge Marina

Homer Spit Scenes: the Boneyard & the Huge Marina

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

Comments

10 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXII News from the Homer-front”

▪.  D.Branch on July 18th, 2010 4:52 pm  
Can you tell us what caravan your on? We hope to make the journey in 2011.
Thanks

  [Adventure Caravans’ 58-day trip.]

▪.  Dave on July 18th, 2010 5:29 pm  
We have been in Chicken for four days waiting for the Top Of The World Highway to open, and have been told the inspector is up there right now. If he okays it, it will be open tomorrow. Wish us luck!

▪.  Jack Harris on July 18th, 2010 6:16 pm  
We took the trip up to Fairbanks from Fort Worth, TX, and back about this time of the year in 2008. Are you on the way back home (i.e. I guess you have already been to Fairbanks) and where is home?
Happy trails, 
Jack Harris 
PS: Our trip is on the following web site:
http://www.drivingtoalaska.com

▪.  Deepwoods on July 18th, 2010 6:44 pm  
We remember Homer when we traveled in Alaska in 2001. We still have the bumper sticker we bought there,
“HOMER ALASKA, A QUAINT DRINKING VILLAGE WITH A FISHING PROBLEM”

▪.  Lynne Schlumpf on July 18th, 2010 7:22 pm  
I love Homer. We spend at least 2 weeks there every summer at the Heritage RV Park. A little pricey, but it is worth it with satellite TV, internet, and full services. They have someone 24 hours to help you with literally everything. They have a great coffee shop, a gift shop, great showers, and a laundry. Our all-time favorite place to RV in Alaska because it is so “modern” and is right on Kachemak Bay. It is also right next door to the fishing hole, where you can catch silvers as long as you can keep them away from a crafty seal that steals fish off your line often. It is also walking distance or taxi distance from town.
Hope you have a great time in Homer. (the end of the road the man who does the Motel 6 commercials talks about a lot)

▪.  Bill Claypool on July 18th, 2010 8:01 pm  
Barry,
If you want to see moose just walk down the road to the Platt museum from where you are staying. I took a walk on their interpretive trail today and saw a cow, her calf an another moose on the trail.

▪.  Jerry on July 18th, 2010 10:02 pm  
I hope you got a chance to check out the Salty Dog Saloon They make a good drink there and have some interesting wall paper

▪.  Dave on July 18th, 2010 10:27 pm  
The Taylor and Top Of The World Highways are now open, with a pilot car escort through the bad sections. Come to Chicken and Eagle Alaska. They need the business!

▪.  Don & Marlene Blackburn on July 19th, 2010 6:32 pm  
Hi.
We are currently in Anchorage and the skies have been very gray so we are trying to figure out where you are that the pictures are so sunny … Anyway we did know that the road was washed out when we got to Tok they told us because we were planning to go home that way. Oh well I guess we will just go back the way we came up through Haines Junction. Have really enjoyed your blog.

Our Alaska Trip Part XXIII More Travel Observations

This entry is part 25 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 19, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 6 Comments   ·

This is the 23rd in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

From the “Small World Department” of the RV blog come these two coincidences from recent days.

While in Anchorage we visited the Alaskan Heritage Center, which is an excellent way to The Bobbitts - 9504learn about the cultures of tribes and clans in the state.  In one of the replica habitats, Bob Babbitt got into a discussion with the young presenter (I think he said his name is Sean). Bob mentioned that he did his internship in dentistry on the Ft. Defiance Navajo Reservation in eastern Arizona.

Athabaskan Native Sean

Athabaskan Native Sean




The young man, an Athabaskan native, said to Bob, “Maybe you know my mother.”  He did indeed know her.  Aurelia had been a dental assistant in his office during that residency.  It just so happened that she was there that day visiting her son, which brought about a surprise reunion.   His mother now works with the public health service in Alaska.

And the second coincidence concerns my long-

We met RVnet follower Margie Goodman in Anchorage

We met RVnet follower Margie Goodman in Anchorage

time friend Sam Casey, a veteran truck-camper RVer and a representative of Signtronix along the East Coast of the U.S.  Sam established an internet friendship with Margie Goodman of Anchorage, who recently bought an RV and plans to travel to the East Coast.

 

Sam mentioned to her that he has a friend traveling in Alaska who is writing a blog about his trip.  Margie replied that she has been reading a blog written by a guy who is on an Alaskan caravan.  The coincidence of two people thousands of miles apart who had never met being linked to us is incredible.

Today we delved deeply into the history of the Homer area at the Pratt Museum.  Some excellent displays, but we were magnetized by presentations on video and audio that kept us listening for at least an hour.  Then we visited the cabin at the museum, where we listened to a resident who had been here since 1954 telling visitors about the hardships people endured years ago homesteading before there were services and roads.

Sunday we joined about a dozen members of our group catching a charter boat to the tiny village of Seldovia.  We departed the Homer Spit in the rain on a two-hour trip across Kachemak Bay to the 265-population Seldovia.  Once a Russian fishing village and later the center of the halibut industry in Alaska, now it is about 10 businesses that cater to boatloads of tourists.

On the way over, “rafts” of sea otters lounged on the balmy bay watching over numerous, varied flocks of sea birds.  If you’re coming this way, plan to stay a few days in Homer to take in all the beauty and history this area has to offer.

The Historic Boardwalk in Seldovia, "I'm Otter Here" and Swarms of Seabirds Watched Us Go By

The Historic Boardwalk in Seldovia, “I’m Otter Here” and Swarms of Seabirds Watched Us Go By

While we were enjoying our cruise, another group from our caravan was out catching the limit of halibut on a very successful fishing trip.

Tomorrow we hookup for a long drive to Palmer, looking forward to new adventures.

Shot Taken from the Boardwalk -- Too Peaceful to Ignore

Shot Taken from the Boardwalk — Too Peaceful to Ignore

Now for an update from the Yukon Highways and Public Works site [I’m including this to give you a sense of how you can keep up on conditions ahead and behind you]:  Highway 9, the Top of the World Highway, motorists are advised that the Taylor [Top of the World] Highway in Alaska is now open from the Yukon/Alaska border through to Tok. There will be a pilot car operating from roughly MP 81 to MP 91. Expect delays. There is no camping or stopping on the Taylor Highway between Chicken, MP 67 and the Boundary/Taylor Wye, MP 95, except in designated BLM campgrounds.

RV.net reader Dave had mentioned that he was expecting to get through Sunday following a pilot car.  Since WiFi in the area is intermittent, we can assume he hasn’t been able to report further.  However, he did email to say, “The Taylor and Top of the World Highways are now open, with a pilot car escort through the bad sections. Come to Chicken and Eagle, Alaska. They need the business!”

In normal times, I check facts and spelling fastidiously.  That’s difficult on this trip, so if you see errors that need correcting, please use the comment section to get the correct information out to readers.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

Comments

6 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXIII More Travel Observations”

▪.  Lynne schlumpf on July 20th, 2010 12:33 am  
You know, I was thinking about you today as I was mowing my lawn in between the Alaskan raindrops, and I wished something for you.
I wished that you had come to Alaska last summer. It was 70 degrees and sunny for months on end. No rain. Beautiful, blue skies. We were actually able to have a September with no rain as well, and it was so warm we actually got to see the leaves change and stay on the trees. They usually fall off so fast we don’t get to see the colors very much. I felt like I had taken a trip to the East Coast for one fall.
The year before, 2008, was exactly like this summer. Beautiful May, then rain rain rain rain rain one sunny day rain rain rain overcast overcast overcast….UGH.
I felt sorry for you today, and I do wish so much that you can come back someday soon and enjoy a real Alaskan summer. It is a crapshoot, but I do hope you’ll be able to experience that.
I know your trip has been beautiful and life-changing, but this I wish for you. And I am sorry for the weather you’ve had to experience this year.
Hope it clears up for you on your way back to the Lower 48. You’ll love Palmer. The mountains are breathtaking. And the Glenn Highway on the way back is amazing! Mount Drum in Glenallen. ….WOW.
Enjoy everything to the fullest.
Lynne

▪.  Nancy Giammusso on July 20th, 2010 5:00 pm  
In your last blog you mentioned some people turned back instead of taking the Taylor Highway. Was that due to severity of road conditions or because of heights and narrow roads with no guardrails. My husband has a problem with heights but we so look forward to taking this trip when I retire in 2 years (he is already retired) but if there are dangerous drops and scary heights we may have to think twice.

▪.  Sharon on July 21st, 2010 8:24 am  
While in Homer, I would highly recommend a trip to town and the Homer Brewery. They have some really good tasting brews there at fairly reasonable prices. When we were there last summer we did not stay on the Spit, but at a wonderful small RV park across from the lake.

▪.  Walter Chledowski on July 21st, 2010 8:47 am  
Good morning to you Barry and Monique and all others reading this Blog,
I have been reading and following your progress through Canada to Alaska and I have enjoyed every minute of it. It makes for a great coffee break reading. I live in Grande Prairie, Alberta, which is about one hour’s drive, east, from Dawson Creek. My wife and I are planning a trip to Alaska in 2012. Since I am reading these blogs on my office computer, I have not saved any of your information. Would it be too much to ask you if you could make available your writings, some time in the future so that I could save it all on my home computer and give my wife a chance to read it also? It appears that you have had much fun and enjoyment on this trip, and I would like to know if we could join the caravan in Dawson Creek, the next time it travels north? Many people from the Lower 48 travel through Grande Prairie and we get to meet them and enjoy their stories too. We met a couple, in St. Joseph Catholic Church, three weeks ago, retired ranchers from Montana and asked them to join us for Brunch. They were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. What a wonderful time we had. Hope to meet up with you folks some times in out travels. Safe travels and enjoy these beautiful countries of ours.
Walter

▪.  julie on October 31st, 2011 6:02 pm  
We are new owners of a 40 ft Allegro bus, never had a RV before. My husband wants to take a trip from Florida to Alaska but not through Canada. We have been there. [Hope you figured out a way to do that!] 
Please give me your experiences and what time of the year is best. I will follow this blog is very educational and fun, we have no friends that have RV’s

Our Alaska Trip Part XXV Time Is Precious

This entry is part 27 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 24, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 6 Comments

This is the 25th in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

Let’s start with a question:  “What is Wrangell-St. Elias?”  [answer below]

Our caravan is designed to give us a sampler of what Alaska has to offer.  It’s like trying to see all of Colorado or North Carolina in two days.  It makes us want to come back to spend more time here.  The biggest difference is the time factor.  We drive 180-300 miles between destinations, and there are numerous things to see along the way.

Thursday, we stopped for glaciers and waterfalls, sped by moose and looked at towering, snow-covered mountains.  When we arrived at our campground, our fellow caravaners asked if we stopped at the railroad tunnel, site of a shoot-out, and other notable places. Others said they had just gotten back from the other side of the bay, where Mama Bear was showing her three cubs how to catch fish.  The dozens of people salmon fishing had to scurry out of the way while they ate. Too much!

Our strong suggestion is that you try to spend as much time in Alaska as your resources allow.   Around every corner are more wonders to behold.

Whether you are into just passively enjoying the splendor of the scenery or are interested in more active pursuits – like fishing and hunting; photography and bird-watching; whitewater rafting and kayaking; native culture, homesteaders’ living conditions; mining history; geology and the northern lights (in the winter); hiking and biking, or the many more things that have filled us with excitement – you’ll need time to see it all.  And since Alaska is a long drive from the Lower 48, it’s not a trip most people will make more than once (I hope we will be back in a few years).

We have delved into most of those pursuits and know there is much more we haven’t seen or done that would we like to experience.  We know that can be said of everywhere in America and Canada, but in Alaska it’s all so immense.  Unfortunately, the distances between most spots are great, so what takes a few hours to get to elsewhere takes a day of driving here.

Our Catamaran, The Valdez Spirit, Plows Through Ice to Reach the Glacier

Our Catamaran, The Valdez Spirit, Plows Through Ice to Reach the Glacier

Another reason to have more time is the weather.  We have been extremely lucky on our tour.  The rain has passed and the sun has greeted us on just about every scenic and history tour we have taken.  But cruise boats don’t go out in heavy fog, Mt. McKinley hides from Denali visitors most days, and a walking tour of Dawson City with dirt streets could be miserable in the rain.

A Close-Up View of the Imposing Meares Glacier

A Close-Up View of the Imposing Meares Glacier

While our visit has been fantastic, the one thing we have missed the most is having the opportunity to get to know locals, which mostly means people who have been here 7 to 35 years.  By the very nature of wanting to live in Alaska, they are interesting, usually different, and probably fun to talk with.  Those we have met fall into those categories, so we wish we could spend more time getting to know them.

Rafts of Sea Otters Were Comic Relief on our 10-hour Cruise

Rafts of Sea Otters Were Comic Relief on our 10-hour Cruise

One of our caravan buddies, who has been the butt of many jokes about sleeping through lots of the best nature tours and cruises, startled me Thursday when he said he would love to move here.  Alaska is that kind of place … people come for a visit and then, like our boat skipper Friday, go back home, pack up what they need and make this their permanent home.  It happens all the time.  Think about it.

 

And now for the answer to the question at the beginning of tonight’s blog:  Wrangell-St. Elias is America’s largest National Park.  At 13.2 million acres, it’s six times the size of Yellowstone. The park contains the entire Wrangell Mountain Range and most or parts of three other ranges.  Nine of America’s 16 highest mountains are here. There are two roads going into it and 9.6 million acres is wilderness, which means no motorized vehicles equipment allowed.  So how is it that you never heard of Wrangell-St. Elias?  We have visited 39 of the 56 national parks plus lots of national memorials (like Mount Rushmore), etc., and we never heard of it either.  And, oh yeah, what we’ve seen – albeit a very small area – was an unexpected, spectacular treat as we drove along miles of its border.

 

Peaks Peek Through at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Peaks Peek Through at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

 

We considered taking one of those remote roads into the park from Valdez, where we are staying until we computed that it would be a 350-mile round trip, plus a hike and a $50 fee to tour a 14-story mill.

Maybe next time …

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

Comments

6 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXV Time Is Precious”

▪.  Karla and George Gallagher on July 24th, 2010 8:40 pm  
Hi Barry and Monique,
My husband and I have been following your Alaska trip with a great deal of interest. We have lived in Anchorage, Alaska, for 40 years and just retired to become full-time RV’ers this fall. We are both retired as of July 1 of this year and are looking forward to adventures on the road.
Many visitors do not realize the vastness of our state and that you cannot see everything in one visit. We hope that if you are in Anchorage or the surrounding area that you would contact us and we would love to meet up with you and others in your caravan.
 I do not know if this message will give you my email because I a new at this forum. I am on Facebook – Karla Gallagher, Anchorage, Alaska.

▪.  Tim Millington on July 24th, 2010 10:32 pm  
Next time take the tour to see the copper processing building at McCarty. We did in 2007 and it was one of the best trips of our 10 weeks in Alaska. We got to meet the locals and had a wonderful experience in the park. I have enjoyed your blog and thank you for posting your travels.

▪.  Dick Tracy on July 25th, 2010 1:07 am  
My wife and I are here in Alaska on our 2nd RV trip to this wonderful land. First time was in ‘05 right after I retired and we made it a 125-day trip. Back again this year for nearly the same. 
I have enjoyed reading your blog but think you shorted yourself this time by not at least going into the Wrangell St. Elias visitors center just off the highway below Glennallen. [We did visit the center.]  We drove our Saturn SL toad into the park over the McCarthy Road on both trips. This year was far easier as the road in has been greatly improved to a good gravel route and only 59½ miles each way. We even took an unanticipated 90+ minute flightseeing this year from McCarthy out over the Bagley Icefield and the mountains. A trip that started at 7 PM and the light cast great shadows that allowed the contour of all the snow shapes to stand out brilliantly. You can tour the mine facilities on your own, too. It is well worth the trip so be sure to include it on any future opportunities.

▪.  Jim Mahan on July 26th, 2010 6:13 am  
What special equipment do you recommend for your RV, i.e. Arctic package, etc.?

▪.  Craig on July 26th, 2010 7:53 am  
How do I find this whole series ? We too are heading North next summer and would love to take advantage/ be aware of your adventure. Thanks, Craig

Our Alaska Trip Part XXVI The Weather in Alaska

This entry is part 28 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 27, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 13 Comments

This is the 26th in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

Our caravan has arrived at its 23rd stop in 48 days.  We have seen an incredible amount of geography from Washington State through British Columbia and Alaska, with a glimpse of Alberta. This series has focused, not on the scenery, history or wildlife, but on our experiences as RVers taking part in a caravan.  There have been dozens of side trips, excursions, cultural talks and events that haven’t been included, but they have definitely contributed to this journey-of-a-lifetime.

Bad Road - 0238

We are still finding more RV-related topics to discuss as we enter the final 10 days of our caravan and probably after that, but we’re always interested in what else you want to know about the trip.   Please let us know in the Comments Section.

THE WEATHER – Can you image the shock if you sat down at a Blackjack table in Las Vegas and were dealt 10 Blackjacks in a row?  That’s the thrill that Monique and I have felt over the past six weeks.  While we have had dreary, chilly days along the way, rainy nights and travel days, it seems like clouds have parted and the sun came out for every tour and daylong cruise on our route.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, it may be that the Creator of all this beauty wanted us to see it at its best so we could convey our excitement to readers in words and pictures.  The weather has just been too awesome.

We aren’t experts on the weather, particularly as it relates to the territories we have covered, but we do know that you probably don’t want to be in Alaska or the Yukon between late September and early May.  If you’re very adventurous and think you can defy the odds, forget it.  Almost everything RVers need closes for those months.  The RV parks drain their systems and pour in a form of antifreeze, lock up their electric system, close the gates and head for more tolerable climates.  Most gas stations – and there aren’t many to begin with – do the same.  Inns, also.  Locals travel by dogsled, seriously, often over frozen roads and rivers; intercity travel is by floatplanes or planes that land on ice.  Mostly, though, folks up here don’t travel much at all.

Priscilla at an RV gift shop said that she doesn’t go from Valdez to Anchorage when there’s a winter storm.  Thompson Pass gets 350 inches of snow a year and up to 800 inches.  In Valdez on the south coast, winter temperatures don’t get all that cold, only to minus-20 usually, but there is a constant 25 mile-an-hour wind, gusting up to 80.  The school bus in Tok is still picking up kids when it’s minus-73.

When the mercury drops to those levels, car batteries explode and metal cracks.  Those were some of the circumstances faced by workers building the Alcan Highway and the TransAlaska Pipeline.  When you get up here and see films on those projects, you’ll begin to appreciate the enormity of those tasks.  Infrastructure isn’t big on our list of interests.  However, seeing the weather conditions they encountered and the faces of those who ”got ‘er dun,” you’ll understand our admiration.

Come to Yukon and Alaska in June, July and August and you should have no problem.  Our preparations for the trip included 1) leaving some unnecessary stuff at a son’s house; 2) having the truck and RV checked over by a professional, 3) buying a spare fuel filter, and 4) putting a screen over the front of the car to intercept rocks and bugs.  Nothing else.  It’s been t-shirt weather for most of our trip, augmented by sweats and jackets when appropriate, like in front of glaciers.

If on your trip to Alaska you find yourself without adequate clothing for an unexpected change in the weather, have no fear.  There is a gift shop nearby selling a wide variety of jackets and sweatshirts emblazoned with logos you will want to show off when you return home.

You wouldn’t expect the weather to be the same in Chicago, New Orleans, Denver, Vermont and San Diego on any given day.  Alaska has its own variety of weather conditions, from Fairbanks to Skagway (the RV drive-able places).  It’s not all cold or pristine clear.  Variations in different areas of the coastal regions are caused by ocean currents, glaciers, mountains ranges, elevation and more.  As you head into the Interior, like Fairbanks, it’s colder, but in Juneau 800 miles away, things are totally different.  Ketchikan in the south enjoys 14 feet of precipitation a year.

Monday’s journey from Tok, Alaska, to Destruction Bay, Yukon Territory, a distance of 225 miles, was among the worst stretches of highway we have ever faced – we were told it’s worse than the drive to Chaco Canyon, Arizona, which Monique and I have heard is the worst.  Frost heaves, construction, mud, gravel, moose, bears and only a couple of diesel fuel stops stood in our way, but we made it (on fumes).  Even the most experienced RVers in our group reported damage to their rigs.

 

Looking out over dwarfed spruce in a permafrost field &, at right, the Alaska Pipeline makes its way across 799 miles of terrain

Looking out over dwarfed spruce in a permafrost field &, at right, the Alaska Pipeline makes its way across 799 miles of terrain

The weather for the trip was drizzle, then beautiful, puffy clouds over the majestic peaks in the distance – and we arrived with the air conditioner on.

The message for today is that if you want to be comfortable during your visit, pick months that offer the best chance of warm weather.  Nothing you can do about the rain and low-lying clouds, so focus on temperatures.

Mama Moose and youngster & Mama Bear teaches three offspring the art of salmon fishing

Mama Moose and youngster & Mama Bear teaches three offspring the art of salmon fishing

Incidentally, as we get used to the “Land of the Midnight Sun” effect, it’s beginning to get dark for a few hours a night.  I guess we’ll get used to seeing stars again in a couple of weeks.

In Destruction Bay, population 30, we encountered "Loose Gravel," a professional-quality band with Loren, our campground host, on the drums

In Destruction Bay, population 30, we encountered “Loose Gravel,” a professional-quality band with Loren, our campground host, on the drums

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

Comments

13 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXVI The Weather in Alaska”

▪.  John A. Kerr on July 27th, 2010 5:28 pm  
In Oct 1973 my family and I were reassigned from Ft Carson, CO, to Ft Wainwright, Fairbanks, AK. We traded our 1969 Winnebago for a 1973 20-ft Winnebago Brave, hooked our Jeep on behind and headed off for the Alcan Highway. We encountered everything from rain to snow to beautiful conditions on our drive up on the dirt/rock road. We encountered no problems with either fuel or RV parking on the trip up. On arrival at Ft Wainwright I learned that my assignment had been changed and I was to report to Ft Richardson, Anchorage, AK, where we spent the next 3 years. We utilized our coach year round and learned quickly that you had to have an engine heater, a heated oil dipstick and a battery heater. We were limited to only a few campgrounds during the winter, but during the summer months we encountered no problems. You did learn to come around bends in the road slowly to ensure that moose, bear or caribou were not “lounging” on the warm asphalt pavement. We were never bothered by any animals in the camping areas during the summer or winter, though we did learn to look before we ventured out of the coach.
The weather is extremely unpredictable so you learn to have clothing for all seasons in the coach. A good folding snow shovel got us out of trouble on several occasions. If you are going to go in the winter make sure that you carry plenty of food, water, and I might suggest a set of chains as they may be needed for some of the roads. Also be prepared to encounter roads that are closed for periods of time due to snow.
Go to Alaska, whether by yourself or in a caravan, and experience the beauty of the state. Beauty that you cannot find anywhere else in the United States. The summer is of course the ideal time to visit, but I would not rule out fall, winter or spring. Just go prepared and be ready to encounter weather the likes of which you have never before seen.
Alaska is an adventure and one that I would recommend to anyone.

▪.  Constance on July 27th, 2010 5:49 pm  
I lived all over the Northwest Territories and Alaska as a child, and I do not recommend travel in an RV on those roads in the winter. Perhaps a 4-wheel drive Pickup camper or even pulling a small trailer.
The last few years have been mild compared to the years I spend there. Visitors and newbies are often ignorant of conditions, which is how my eyeball fluid got frozen the first year we were there…caused permanent damage to my eye muscles.
Constance

▪.  Lynne schlumpf on July 27th, 2010 6:28 pm  
Alaska’s best season is winter. The Northern Lights and clear skies and mountains so clear. Quiet, peaceful. No bears. No mosquitoes or no-see-ums up your nose. Just peaceful contemplation.
Lynne

▪.  Bob Derivan on July 27th, 2010 6:54 pm  
Stumbled onto your blog and have enjoyed it immensely. We drove to Alaska from Arizona alone last summer. We did encounter vehicle problems in isolated areas such as The Yukon and it would have been nice to have a caravan to help but we wouldn’t trade the experience for any place we’ve been. We spent the whole summer in Moose Pass on the Kenai. You drove through it on the Seward Hwy from Anchorage to Seward. Your blogs have brought back many great memories. We hope to someday do it again. I do agree that anyone who gets the chance to do it, to take it. They won’t be disappointed. Our most exciting experience was on the way home. We were driving North on the George Parks Hwy between Anchorage and Fairbanks and we too had been told chances of seeing Denali were slim. But as we turned the curve at Willow, there she was standing high and proud. We were still 160 miles away but were able to take many gorgeous photos of the Great Mountain. Although we were hoping to visit Denali up close, we were delayed in Wasilla again because of vehicle problems and missed the park closing for the season by one day, that experience enough we will remember for a lifetime. Travel safe.

▪.  Ron Thill on July 27th, 2010 11:33 pm  
We’re thinking about driving to Alaska next summer. I’m surprised you’ve not said much about mosquitoes or no-see-ums. I assumed they’d be a constant harassment throughout much of Alaska. Also, is it necessary to make RV park reservations along the Alcan Highway if one departs early (say by 6 or 7 a.m.) and only travels for 5-7 hours? Are there lots of boondocking sites along the Alcan Highway that would be considered RV friendly – – i.e., reasonably level, plenty of room to get in and out, not too rocky, etc. We won’t be in a caravan, so large boondocking sites aren’t a concern. Thanks for sharing your experiences with all of us.

▪.  Roger Garner on July 28th, 2010 5:03 am  
To Ron Thill’s questions, I would respond: forget about the mosquito stories. They’re no worse than a lot of places in the lower 48. Wind drives them away, so camp on a site that catches the wind. The ‘king of the road’ for this kind of trip is a pickup camper without a toad. The versatility of a truck rig will allow you to do many things you won’t get to do otherwise. Boondocking opportunities are everywhere in Canada and AK, but it takes the clearance of a pickup (preferably 4-wheel drive) to get to many of them. By planning to pitch camp before 4:00 I’ve never had trouble finding hookups. Long daylight hours cause people to drive later, thus waiting too late to find full-service vacancies. When you are in remote areas remember to fuel up when your tank is down to ½. Thanks Barry & Monique for a wonderful travelogue.

▪.  Kenneth Hospital on July 28th, 2010 7:21 am  
Thanks for telling us about your trip . We did this same trip a few years back with a tour and it was great. The only way to see Alaska is by RV . The road to Destruction Bay sounds the same as when we were there … bad . Thank for the great stories .

▪.  Bob Wiggs on July 28th, 2010 7:51 am  
I have really enjoyed reading your Blog. We drove the ALCAN last year to Alaska and had a BALL. This was our 1st time there and we could not get over all the beautiful scenery we saw. We’ve never been able to see Moose, Bears, Dall Rams on the road. We had such a good time, we’re planning a second trip in 2011 and plan to stay till about mid SEP in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. Happy Trails Bob.

▪.  Dale Kincaid on July 28th, 2010 10:59 am  
Was or is Dubie still making bowls out of Black Spruce Burls at Destruction Bay?
He had a workshop behind the RV office. He was making some beautiful bowls back in 2003 when we went through there with Adventure Caravans.

[Yes, he sold several to our group, and after we bought a beautiful folding table from him, others in the group followed suit.]

▪.  roland lajoie on July 29th, 2010 10:01 am  
Of most interest is the toll that the roads are doing to the RV’s, i.e. tow trailer, 5th wheels , and particular to the motorhomes . You have talked of losing windshields, etc. ; what other damages have occurred to vehicles and how about toads?, are toads being taken along on this trip . We are trying to plan this trip to Alaska and most interested at this point of potential damage to vehicles; as the writings seem to indicate, roads over/all are not very good . Any information you can give would be appreciated. Trying to decide what vehicle to tow / leave somewhere else in storage and how to prepare for what appears to be a bumpy but toll / taking trip. 
Thanks for any help you may be .
Roland

▪.  Jimmie McElrea on July 29th, 2010 5:59 pm  
I am missing Part XVI of Our Alaska Trip and would like you to email or repost the blog. I am enjoying your blog tremendously. Thank you

▪.  Cathy on April 7th, 2011 8:41 pm  
Thanks for this blog. We are planning an RV trip to AK and these personal accounts are priceless! I had to comment on this Part since we have driven the Chaco Canyon entrance road. The rough part is only about 13 miles long, not 225! 
I wonder just how slow you had to go and how long it took you. We have a short Class A and had to go less than 10 mph into Chaco or it sounded like the whole thing would rattle apart. It was worth it. If you are towing a trailer, maybe you don’t hear or heed all that rattling?

Our Alaska Trip Part XXVIII-A Useful Definitions Part A

This entry is part 30 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

August 3, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · Comments Off (Hoping this gets repaired soon)

This is the first installment of the 28th article in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to AlaskaT

Another adventure.  On our first night in Canada June 10, the caravan stayed in Oliver, British Columbia.  A few days after departing, an avalanche closed the road for a brief time behind us.  Not long after that we wrestled with the Top of the World Highway and won.  Weeks later the roadway was washed out and closed briefly.  Sunday the caravan left the Northern Beaver Post, Yukon Territory, convoy-style for the first time.  We drove about a quarter-mile where we waited for over an hour until we got clearance to travel narrow Hwy. 37 through a forest fire.  The road closed behind us.

Avalanches and Washouts Behind Us; Bears and Moose Crossing in Front of Us; Construction and Frost Heaves Under Us … What else could we contend with? Oh, yes, a forest fire.

Avalanches and Washouts Behind Us; Bears and Moose Crossing in Front of Us; Construction and Frost Heaves Under Us … What else could we contend with? Oh, yes, a forest fire.

Saturday night it rained – on the forest fire; Sunday and Monday were beautiful, short-sleeve weather.

As we bound into the final two days of our trip, we think about the chance to just relax for a few days in a quiet, oceanside park in British Columbia.  At the same time, we think about ending what has been an exciting adventure of a lifetime with three dozen people who have become close friends over the past two months.

We have tried to use these articles to give you some guidance on what to expect on your trip to western Canada and Alaska.  Rest assured, what you may have learned in these articles is only a smattering of information, and none of this does justice to the incredible world we have toured over the past weeks and which hopefully lies ahead for you.

Now, we are going to try to add to your knowledge with some definitions:

Fact:  A “fact” is what the tour guide tells you.  Another fact is that every tour guide and every information sign has a different number or name for the same fact.  The more we learn about the returning herds of caribou (also called “reindeer” if they are domesticated), the more confused we get as to the thousand that are roaming around.

Alaska Time Zone:  One hour earlier than Pacific Time.  Confusing at first, but it works.

Arctic Haze:  The North’s version of smog, mostly from industrial pollution and forest fires imported from Russia by prevailing winds.

Athabaskan:   The collective name for the Indians of Interior Alaska and Northwestern Canada and their language.  Athabaskans are closely related to the Navajos.  Of the roughly 19 native people languages still spoken in Alaska today, 11 are Athabaskan, so you hear that term often, particularly in the Alaskan Interior.  In Arctic regions, the people are Inupiaq.  Along the lower coast are the Yupik people.  Then there are the Aleuts (pronounced “Al-e-oots) around the Aleutian Islands.  The natives refer to themselves as the “First Nation People.”

Languages - 0622

Bore Tide:  A huge tide.  The Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia is the world leader at over 50 feet.  “Turnagain Bay” in Alaska is either the second or third highest bore tide in the world at 23 or 28 feet.  And Wikipedia and local books disagree on who named Turnagain Bay and why and when.

Bush:  Areas in the Interior accessible only by air or intrepid dogsledding.  We met an artist who said he lived in “the Bush,” but by his garb, we think he meant “a bush.”

Centre:  The Canadian spelling of “center,” and there are “metres” here, but they have no problem with “otter.”  They also misspell “labour” and “humour” by U.S. standards.

Chickaloon:  A small town, river and loop road.  You don’t really need to know that, but it is indicative of the unique names in Alaska.  Tok (pronounced Tōk), Chicken, etc.

Drunken Spruce:  Undernourished spruce trees that lean in sundry directions.  They are part of miles of undernourished spruce forests with trees hundreds of years old but looking like new plantings because they try to survive on “permafrost.”

$8-a-gallon diesel:  When an outpost 180 miles from everywhere pays $1,000 a day for electricity, they have to make it up some way.  We were just glad they were there.

Fireweed:  Vibrant magenta wildflowers that line the roads throughout Yukon and Alaska in the summer.  It is the provincial flower of the Yukon, and locals know it as the harbinger of autumn.  Blossoms move up the stem as the summer draws to an end.

Fireweed in Its Glory and As the Summer Fades – Not a Sure Sign of the Seasons Because the Beautiful and Spent Are Only a Few Miles Apart

Fireweed in Its Glory and As the Summer Fades – Not a Sure Sign of the Seasons Because the Beautiful and Spent Are Only a Few Miles Apart

Frost Heaves:  If you don’t know this by now, you haven’t been reading these articles closely enough.  Roads and towns are built on permafrost, which melts and refreezes, creating havoc for engineers and keeping lots of summer workers busy.  Frost heaves cause RVs traveling down highways at 55 mph to leave the pavement suddenly.  Beware of frost heaves.

Glacial Flour:  Silt carried by millions of waterfalls throughout the area cascades down mountains and into rivers, lakes and fjords.  All emerald and aqua green waters get their enchanting, picturesque coloring from glacial flour.  On the other hand, the Nenana River on which I whitewater rafted was an ugly grey but carried soft silt down to the Yukon River.  I know – I took a voluntary dip overboard.

Tune in tomorrow for 15 more definitions you should know if you’re RVing to Alaska … things like a “peduncle slap” and “muskeg.”

Oh, by the way, we missed a turn-off today, when another black bear ambled across the road in front of us.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

Our Alaska Trip Part XXVIII-B Useful Definitions Part B

This entry is part 31 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

August 7, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 13 Comments

This is the second installment in the 28th article in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

In yesterday’s edition, you learned that “Arctic Haze” is not a soul singer and “Chickaloon” is an insignificant village.  Here are some more definitions to guide you through your trip to the Canadian Northwest and Alaska:

Interior:  All of the center part of Alaska above and east of Fairbanks.  When you think of the remote, icy tundra and wilderness of Alaska, you are mostly thinking of the Interior.  In coastal and populated areas of the state (that is, not the Interior), you can buy bread and milk at affordable prices.

Lateral Moraine:  Rocks and debris pushed aside by glaciers during the many Ice Ages, which ran from about 11,000 to 3,000 years ago, and probably earlier.  There are also terminal moraines and others you’ll learn about as you travel the glacial regions.

Bear Glacier on the Glacier Highway. Moraines are the rocks & debris in front of and on the sides of glaciers.

Bear Glacier on the Glacier Highway. Moraines are the rocks & debris in front of and on the sides of glaciers.

Loony:  A $1 coin, and a “Tooney” is a $2 coin.  Folding money begins at $5.  Most other Canadian coins are easily confused with U.S. coins.

Lower 48:  The rest of the United States (except, of course, Hawaii)

Mukluks:  High boots designed and insulated for arctic wear, mostly made by natives from animal skins and fir.

Muskeg:  Mushy land through which the U.S. Army slogged to build the Alaskan (Alcan) Highway.

Muskox:    Very weird-looking creatures in the sheep family that are raised for their fine wool.  We have often seen bear, moose and Dall Sheep along the roads, but never a muskox.  Fact:  In book titles and references, muskox is spelled “musk ox” and “musk-ox.”

Northern Lights:  Also called the “aurora borealis.”  A phenomenon of nature that is said to be glorious, but since it happens when it is dark and therefore too cold for comfortable RVing, it would probably be wise to fly up to Alaska and stay in a B&B or hotel to see it.  And that brings up the concept of “The Land of the Midnight Sun.”  It takes a while to get used to walking outside at 1 a.m. on June 21 and seeing your shadow, but it’s part of the wonder of this land.  South of the Equator, there is the “borealis australis.”

Oosik:  Look it up!

Peduncle Slap:  When a whale comes out of the sea, as the last third of the whale hits the water, it makes a loud “peduncle slap.”  A very useless bit of information we learned from a boat skipper

Permafrost:  Under the surface of much of the earth is frozen organic material that has been there since the Ice Age.  At Destruction Bay, Yukon, it goes down about 160 feet.  Tough to build and maintain an RV park in those conditions.

Pigeon Guillemot:  One of many strange-named birds that we saw on our cruises.  Another was the kittiwake.  And speaking of birds, Bald Eagles are everywhere and always impressive.

Pigs:  Internally powered cylinders that are inserted into the Alaska Pipeline at pumping stations to clean out the insides of the 799-mile-long engineering marvel.

’64 Earthquake: On Good Friday 1964, an earthquake measuring 9.2 changed the geology of Alaska, compounded by three tsunamis.  The waterfront of many cities disappeared into the fjords and bays.  Towns were leveled and roads disappeared.  First Nation People were rescued by military and police forces, bringing about major changes in their cultures.  Films showing the devastation are horrifying.

Ulu:  How have you lived all your life without one of these native-perfected knives?  It slices, it dices, it fillets fish, it makes an excellent gift for folks back home, who have lived their whole lives without one.  I have mentioned in the past that there are 2.5 gift shops per tourist in these remote lands.  All of them have “ulus” for sale, and don’t forget the handcrafted bowl that goes with it.

A final note:  During the next few days and maybe weeks, our internet access will suffer greatly.  We are leaving the caravan a day early to head west to the Pacific Ocean while our group finishes up by traveling east for one last stop.  We plan to find quiet B.C. Provincial parks in which to recuperate from 57 days of intense ecstasy, but will stay in touch, continuing to write about what we experienced over the past two months, adding notes from what we learn before returning to the U.S.

Wednesday we bid farewell to Alaska ... but, we'll be back!!

Wednesday we bid farewell to Alaska … but, we’ll be back!!

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

Comments

13 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXVIII-B Useful Definitions Part B”

▪.  Full Timer Normie on August 7th, 2010 4:50 pm  
OMG…such a trip you have had…we have devoured every word of every post. Alas, someday it will be our turn. 
We thank you for your diligent, informative, funny, sad, beautiful, looney and tooney posts. Stay safe and warm and we hope to meet up with y’all one of these days in an RV park somewhere on this wondrous planet.

▪.  charles cox on August 7th, 2010 5:52 pm  
I’m curious – how do you plan to return to the lower 48? along the same route in reverse? very enjoying reading all your blogs and seeing the beautiful photos.

▪.  George Wharton on August 7th, 2010 6:06 pm  
In your definitions, you should say that loony and toonies are designations for Canadian money. 
Have enjoyed all your adventures so far.

▪.  Tom Funkhouser on August 7th, 2010 8:40 pm  
I have been following your trip since the beginning. I really enjoyed reliving many of the sights we saw on our 2006 Alaska trip. Your blog has really given us a reason to get our plans ready for another trip to “The North”.
One question I have – I think your caravan was going to end up in Stewart/Hyder. The highlight of our trip was the three days we spent watching grizzly bears catch salmon on Fish Creek. Do you have a report on what it was like this year?
Have a great trip back to the lower 48.
Regards,
Tom

▪.  Kurt Hammerschmidt on August 7th, 2010 8:51 pm  
Fact: In book titles and references, muskox is spelled musk ox and musk-ox. 
I’m sorry but I just couldn’t resist. The hair on the outside of an animal is sometimes spelled “FUR” and not Fir.
I absolutely loved your account of your trip and appreciate the effort put into writing it down for us.
Kurt

▪.  Suzanne McWhirter on August 7th, 2010 9:53 pm  
Thank you for sharing your trip. Your information made up my mind about taking this trip. My husband and I are definitely going to do this.
Safe travels to you.
Suzanne

▪.  Jerry X Shea on August 7th, 2010 10:45 pm  
Great going, you guys. Take your time heading back and enjoy BC. We did the trip last year for 4 months and had a great time. Hope to run into you sometime.
For those of you that have not made the trip, stop putting it off and just go. Nothing will happen to you.

▪.  Peggy Dado on August 8th, 2010 1:10 am  
I have followed your trip and enjoyed it so much. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope one day we will be able to do it too.

▪.  Barbara Mull on August 8th, 2010 7:46 am  
Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. Reading your posts has been thoroughly enjoyable and brought back many wonderful memories of my time living there.

▪.  Bob in Florida on August 8th, 2010 8:27 am  
It appears Kurt noticed your spelling of Fir also.  Have followed your trip since Day One and have enjoyed each and every segment. Hope to make similar trip next year, but failing health may dictate. Keep up the good work and have a super safe trip back home.

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on August 8th, 2010 10:46 am  
When we took our trip to Alaska, we crossed into Canada on our way up through North Dakota and on the way down we came through Seattle, Washington. We found central Canada to be rather boring; mostly flatlands and trees; whereas, British Columbia was beautiful. So if you have a choice of routes, take a western route through BC. It’s much more scenic.

▪.  ft-rver on August 8th, 2010 5:51 pm  
I’ve read them all and enjoyed your trip right along with you.
I did note however the reference to the Muskox being a member of the sheep family.(?)
Wikipedia defines it thus:
“The muskox (Ovibos moschatus) is an Arctic mammal of the Bovidae family, noted for its thick coat and for the strong odor emitted by males, from which its name derives. This musky odor is used to attract females during mating season.”

Our Alaska Trip Part XXX The Cost of Our Trip

This entry is part 33 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

12August 12, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 11 Comments

This is the 30th article in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

We have kept daily tabs on the cost of our 58-day caravan tour through western Canada into and around Alaska and back.  The tough part now is to find a way to make our spending relevant to everyone else.  But, let’s give it a try …

Tour Company:  Our only set expense was the money we sent to Adventure Caravans to participate.  You might want to take the same trip or a shorter one if you decide to caravan, and you may, after comparing features, decide on another tour company.  There are too many alternatives to cost it out in a logical way.  Add to that each year the cost of enrollment will probably be different.

If you break it down into cost-per-day to caravan, that also has variables, e.g., what events and meals are included.  If the trip you select offers the cheapest cost, you will probably be getting a less enjoyable tour.  And since the Alaska trip is not something you will be doing often, you want to get the most out of your visit.

On the cheapie side, you may decide to do it on your own [see Part XXIX].  Staying in Canadian provincial parks or on pullouts available almost everywhere will save you lots of money over the caravan’s full-hookup choices.

This isn’t meant to dodge the issue.  You need to look at the various tour companies’ routes and features, pare the choices down to the ones that make sense to you, and then compare cost.  [Wish I could find a quick resource on the net, but gotta get off this borrowed computer]  From our research, the caravan rates are very competitive, taking into account the different features.

Fuel:  The next biggest single expense for us was fuel.  We traveled 6,171 miles at a cost of $2,373 (we get 10.5 mpg in our diesel GMC pickup with a 22-gallon tank).   Price of fuel varied from about $3.56 a gallon to a high of $8 a gallon (twice in very remote areas, so we only got enough to get us to the next station).  Most of the time it was between $3.87 and $4.00 per gallon.

We pulled our 10,000-pound Bigfoot trailer, plus, the bed of our truck is our garage, which lowers our fuel mileage.  On several occasions, when going to local attractions, we rode with others.  The back seat of our truck is used for storage, so we couldn’t return the favor.

Oh, and for all these expenses except caravan enrollment fee keep in mind you would be paying for many of these costs of traveling anyway.  Our RV park camping fees and some meals were included in the upfront tour cost.  On your own you might pay less, but it would still cost you some money.

Groceries, excursions and incidentals:  These will vary greatly to fit your personal preferences.  Monique is an excellent frugal gourmet cook (who buys better quality meat, organic produce, etc.) so we ate at restaurants only 19 times in 57 days – probably the fewest times of anyone else on the tour.  Five of those were at fast-food places.  Most of the others were with other couples or all the members of the group.  Add to that stops for coffee, pastries and snacks, and our total was $600.  You’ll be spending money for those no matter where you are on the road.

There's so much to see, so much to do.  Try to take your time to be in the present.

There’s so much to see, so much to do. Try to take your time to be in the present.

Our most important advice for Canada/Alaska visitors is participate in as many of the organized side trips, excursions, cruises, flights, shows and cultural opportunities that fit into your finances and time budgets, especially the cruises.  The scenery and wildlife are worth the arduous visit, but it goes to another dimension on these.  You’ve come a long way – go for all the gusto you can.

Examples of costs if going on your own:  A day cruise at the Kenai Fjords (an absolute MUST! to see humpback whales, orcas, puffins, sea lions and much more) $155 per person.  A train ride to see a gold mine replica and pan for gold, about $139 p/p (but you’re guaranteed to find gold flakes and maybe a nugget).  The 184-mile round-trip tour-guided bus ride into Denali National Park, priceless!

Groceries are expensive in the Far Northwest but cheaper than eating out.  Our tab was just under $1,000 or about $18 per day.  That included shopping for a few potlucks and taking snacks to the socials occasionally, a voluntary part of being on the caravan.

Incidentals [NOTE to our grandchildren:  Don’t expect much!]  We are not shoppers.  We bought a few t-shirts, a cap and some pins and hiking stick medallions to help us remember our journey, but not much.  Also in this category is laundry, car washes, etc., and the biggest part of “incidentals,” side trips and excursions not included in the tour cost.

I whitewater rafted once (a thrill), we rode the gondola up a mountain in Banff, I played golf at Top of the World Golf Club, we paid for a cruise to Seldovia (a highlight), and we forked over a few bucks for museums.  We bought a handmade wooden table for $60.  Total cost of Incidentals & Excursions:  just over $1,000.  Some of the things we did not buy that our fellow travels did were: jewelry, expensive apparel, fishing license (although I bought and never used a rod & reel), extra tours including flights, and extra fishing trips.

You’d probably be spending some money on these things in Alaska, Arkansas or Arizona, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.  And, again, we – as full-time RVers without a house — are far more fiscally conservative than most of our travelmates.

Repairs:  An additional expense you can expect on a trip like this is repairs and damages.  A bottle of wine and a bottle of balsamic vinegar broke early in the trip on a road heave, and the remote control for a radio was crushed when a recliner landed on it, but that’s the extent of our damage.  At least half of our group is getting windshields replaced this week, but several of those dings happened before we left the Lower 48 and others were on good roads.  It happens!

There were several mechanical problems encountered by members of the group, many of which could have just as easily happened on interstates.  We’re talking here of well over 110,000 miles compiled by the caravan as a whole.  That’s lots of opportunities for problems.

Finally, there were pre-trip costs.  Everyone needed a CB radio for the caravan.  We all had to replace any “questionable” tires, as our mechanic phrased it, and most bought spare fuel filters.  Some of us paid to jerryrig protection on the front of our trucks, towed or coaches, which were cost-savings rather than expenses.   We invested in a very expensive lens for my camera, but there will be more about that in an upcoming article.

Was all this worth it?  Looking at it one way, it depends on how you value your money, what are your priorities in life.  For us — and remember we’re conservative with money — this trip was life at its best.  For us, the overwhelming answer is:  “Yes, it was worth it!”

From the “Never-Bored RVers.” We’ll see you on down the road.

NOTE:  We are staying at provincial parks, often far from towns, so WiFi is a rarity.  We’ll have more soon.

Comments

11 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXX The Cost of Our Trip”

▪.  Jerry X Shea on August 13th, 2010 6:46 pm  
Our costs. We took a trip for 4 months from the time we crossed into Alberta until we came out into Washington. Gas would have been the same if we did it in 30 days.
Between parking for free, State Parks for $10 a night and RV campgrounds, we had an average cost of about $22.50 a night. For 4 months that was $2,700 (one month would have only been $675). The one that caught us off guard was the cost of food. With the exception of buying a hot mocha in the a.m. and a Subway sandwich (which is not $5 but $7) whenever we could, we only went out to eat 6 times on the whole trip (oh come on now, it’s called a motorHOME trip, not a hotel resort trip). When you have to pay $22 for an uncooked chicken, $3.75 for one avocado and $6.50 for a dozen eggs you suddenly realize you have miscalculated your food cost “big time.” Oh yes, did I mention you can buy a 12-piece bucket of KFC for only $29.99? You get the idea. When you plan your trip, what you spend on food in the lower 48, just go times 4 and you will have your food costs.

▪.  Lee Ensminger on August 13th, 2010 8:03 pm  
We made an extensive trip in the summer of 2007, driving from Ohio to Montana, then up to the beginning of the Alaskan Highway, driving the entire length, going through the interior to Fairbanks, then to Denali, Anchorage, Homer, Seward, the Kenai Peninsula, other places I won’t mention, put the motorhome aboard the Alaskan Ferry System in Whittier, going ashore in Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Ketchikan before being put ashore in Bellingham, WA.
Camping costs: $;
Food: $$
Fuel: $$$;
Whale watching and glacier exploring tours various places: $$$$;
Ferry: $8,000.00+;
Seeing the beauty and majesty that is Alaska: PRICELESS!!!
We’re currently planning our next trip there. And we can’t wait to go back!

▪.  Lynne Schlumpf on August 14th, 2010 4:29 am  
First would like to say thanks so much for your triplog. For those who want an experience they will never ever forget and who love to ride in the front of every rollercoaster (like me), there is another way to experience the beautiful North. Travel up through Wyoming and Montana and cross the border at Lethbridge during the last two weeks of February. The border guards are friendly and not stressed. Stop all along the way and stay in hotels in places like Dawson Creek, Lake Watson, Fort Nelson (call ahead here because oil workers swarm there in winter). Stop and talk to everyone. They are relaxed and friendly and so many great stories you’ll hear. The wildlife you see in the winter is so much more plentiful and the mountain views would make a grown man cry. Spend the last week of February at the Fur Rendezvous (Let’s Rondy!) watching the world championship dog races right downtown 4th street. Ride a Ferris wheel in the dead of winter. See huge dogs in the world championship dog weight pull. See the start of the Iditarod in the first week of March right downtown. Drive north through the jaw-dropping Denali National Park with guaranteed views of Denali. Thought it was great during summer? It pales in comparison. See the Ice Castle carving championship in Fairbanks, the outhouse races in Chatanika. Drive north to Circle late at night to see Northern lights few ever see. Then drive back down the Alaska Highway, knowing you’ve shared in the lives of Alaskans in a way few people in RVs ever get to see. It cost us about $1,100 to drive one way, eat, and stay in hotels. It is something that will remain with me for a lifetime.

We did it in a Dodge Durango 4wd. Any 4wd will do. Studded snow tires not necessary but would be even better. Canadians know how to keep the roads plowed.

▪.  Dan Kapa on August 14th, 2010 7:09 am  
i just bought a used “Alaskan” truck camper (circa 1965) and am fantasizing about a road trip. this info is great and I would like some more ideas about joining a caravan. i am 63 y.o. and would appreciate the company since I am a newbie. Chime in about anything you think i should know or learn.
sincerely, Dan

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on August 14th, 2010 10:29 am  
Your expenses were quite similar to ours. We also ate most meals in our trailer and didn’t buy a lot of gifts for the grandkids. We took the Denali tour and the Kenai Fjords cruise (both priceless).
Here is a rundown of our expenses for a somewhat shorter stay (includes Alaska and Canada).
Fuel $2,720 (10.5 mpg);
Campgrounds $540 (19 nights, $25.00 – $41.41);
Dining out $218;
Food $396;
Gifts $165;
Admissions/tours $743;
Misc $252.
Hope this helps others with their planning/budgeting.

▪.  Rebecca on August 14th, 2010 7:06 pm  
I have a 41′ diesel pusher. Is this too big for travel through Alaska? I need a driver!!
I might have to do it by cruise but I would rather do it by RV.

▪.  Dr. Yaroslaw Sereda on October 26th, 2010 9:30 pm  
We recently purchased a 1979 Dodge camper van, and Alaska is our destination in mid-June 2011 for 2 months. There have been many comments in touring Alaska via Alberta, we live in Saskatchewan. My question and not mentioned by anyone is: what about gas stations? Close or far apart. We were told to have several full gas containers on hand. Comments appreciated.
Thanks [Actually, it was mentioned often in the blogs and in the comments.  While I think it’s a good idea to have enough spare fuel for maybe 50 miles, we never needed it.  This is a good reason to purchase “Mileposts,” which will keep you aware of what to expect on the road ahead.]

Our Alaska Trip Part XXXI Since You Asked

This entry is part 34 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

August 12, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 13 Comments

This is the 31st article in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

NOTE:  We’re staying in remote areas of British Columbia – plenty of bears but internet opportunities are elusive.

Time to reply to comments from recent blogs,

Let’s start out with an imperative:  There is too much to see and do and too many miles of highway between disparate communities to make a two-week tour worth the effort.

Our trip was to Alaska, but it’s important to understand that the journey getting there and visiting different towns and attractions is as memorable as the places.  Memories of the abundant fireweed are just as vivid as the puffin sightings and seeing Mount McKinley under the sun (we can’t say enough about the fireweed and other wildflowers in June and July) and teal blue lakes along the highways.  Riding alongside the Canadian Rockies was as breathtaking as seeing a bit of the gorgeous mountains of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  And if you don’t see the film in the Dawson Creek Visitors Center or spend time in the Native Heritage Cultural Center in Anchorage, you’re only seeing the surface of these incredible North American wonders.

We know that our lifestyle as full-time RVers gives us a skewed perspective, but we strongly recommend visiting when you can spend at least two months in the North.  From the sampler we got as members of a caravan, we know we want to come back to color in the spaces between the lines.

Before responding to your comments, we’d like to say thanks for joining us on this fabulous adventure via blog.rv.net.  Writing this at midnight or 5 a.m. or while others in the caravan were partying has been gratifying, knowing that someone was interested in reading it.  It isn’t meant to be a travel blog, but rather a supplement to the materials you have available when traveling to “The Last Frontier.”  We love so many places in the Lower 48; it’s just that this vast area is definitely different.  There’s so much to know, even for experienced RVers, including those who have been up there in the past.

Now to respond to some of your comments.

1 –  Thanks fer pointing out that fir and fur are not synonyms.  In our ferther articles we look ferward to doing better … did I mention ‘midnight” and “5 a.m.”?

2 — We are in British Columbia, planning to stay until the end of August.  As we write this, we are in Tyhee Provincial Park, which is like camping in an aviary featuring an interesting variety of very chirpy birds.  When we arrived, we immediately saw a huge 7-foot-tall black bear — we’ve seen him twice since then competing with us to harvest tasty Saskatoon berries.

3 — We came up through Oliver, above eastern Washington State in June, wandered eastward into Alberta, and then headed for Whitehorse.  On our way back down, we are staying on the west side of British Columbia, planning to be in Tacoma in early September.

4 — Asked about Prince Rupert, I would describe it as a cruise ship port-of-call lacking enough dockings to support the tourist-section businesses.  It’s an interesting town, but it seems to be missing the energy it prepared for when expecting more ocean liners.  We didn’t get a chance to visit what is touted as a good museum in town.  The drive to Prince Rupert along the Skeena River is beautiful, although many miles of similar vistas.  We heard that the tour of the cannery in neighboring Prince Edward is interesting, but we tackled that narrow road after 5 p.m. Saturday, so it was closed.

5 — Terrace appears to be a thriving town with big chain stores (including Wal-Mart and the multi-faceted Canadian Tire) plus supermarkets and American-born fast food outlets.  We only stopped there for lunch and didn’t look any further.

6 — The Towns of Stewart, B.C., and Hyder, AK, are like two sisters from different parents:  quaint, rustic, off the beaten path, very representative of frontier communities.  In response to the question about the bears feeding on salmon nearby on Fish Creek, we went by three times but missed the excitement of seeing the star attractions who don’t have a set schedule.  The salmons’ schedule should be more dependable, but we were told they were running late, stalled at upstream locations.  Others in our group saw several bears, including Old Monica, a grizzly in her dotage, who couldn’t catch any of the spawning salmon, so she settled for the fish whose life-cycle ended with a leap onto the banks, where they awaited the scavengers to remove their corpses.

Our questions to you:  Did you go beyond the viewing platform to see the glaciers and other magnificent scenery up the rocky road?  We went about 23 more miles to

A flow of ice manages to squeeze its way from a abandoned tunnel sealed with doors of steel

A flow of ice manages to squeeze its way from a abandoned tunnel sealed with doors of steel

Salmon Glacier and beyond taking in both ends of the abandoned tunnel, where we saw glacial ice pushing against the steel barricaded door.   And did you take the walking tour to Dyea, the jumping off point for the Chllkoot Trail during Gold Rush Days?  It’s an important, fascinating episode in the epic Gold Rush story.

7 — We think “musk-oxen” should fall into a category of their own.  We remember being told at Large Animal Research Station in Fairbanks they are in the sheep family, but the comment about them being in the cow/ox/bison family is probably right.  See “Fact” under Definitions Part XXIX-A.

8 — To Stan, who mentioned that central Canada is rather boring, we haven’t been there yet, but since it’s the northern extreme of the U.S. Great Plains, your assessment is probably valid.  Add to that, we talked to a family from eastern Alberta in line to be escorted behind a pilot truck through the Highway 37 forest fires, who said they were in B.C. because it is boring back home.

9 — For those who are looking for early articles in this series and earlier submissions on other topics, all our past blogs should be accessible on this site.

10 – To the question, “Will my RV hold up to the poor road conditions?”   We have seen lots of prehistoric and homemade rigs of all kinds of the road.  We don’t know how some of them made it to the U.S./Canada border, but they seem to endure.  I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

A quick story – When we first started RVing on August 11, 2006, (Happy Anniversary to us), one of our first stops was in a state campground in Cedar City, Utah.  I was still churning from all my years of working, so staying in one place with little to do was a foreign concept to me.  When we told the camp host we had to go, he said in a slow, deep drawl, “Wellll, whaaa-cha hurrree?”  That has been my credo every since.  My point:  On the roads to and into Alaska, you might ask yourself that often as you slow down in permafrost and construction zones.

11 and 11-A — And finally, to Gary, who doesn’t like the idea of caravan schedules and doesn’t want more people in Washington State.  As for schedules, that is a prejudice that we share, but it is just one of the factors to consider when deciding on a caravan.  Don’t let your old “I’m set in my ways” attitude cloud your ability to make a decision.

And from what we’ve seen of Washington State, there’s still plenty of room for visitors, and thankfully there is a spot for our daughter to attend college there.  What if the Yukon or Alaskan natives put up signs at the border, “Lower 48ers, Turn Back Now”?  You’d wish there was room for you, too.

Believe it or not, we still have more information to impart about Our Alaska Trip.

From the “Never-Bored RVers.” We’ll see you on down the road.

Comments

13 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXXI Since You Asked”

▪.  Barbara on August 12th, 2010 4:30 pm  
While you are in western Washington, if you have time to get together with other RVers, send us a note a bakntep@gmail.com. We are currently in our condo in Mill Creek WA, north of Seattle, but spend most of our time traveling in our 37′ Newmar Dutch Star.

▪.  Margaret on August 12th, 2010 5:25 pm  
Nothing boring about crossing the central plains of Canada. Loved every moment, Also another favorite area was Fort Macleod, AB. Happy Trails.

▪.  Old Gray on August 12th, 2010 6:21 pm  
When we’re travelling (Canadian spelling!), we always seem to enjoy every part of both countries – mountains, plains, woodlands, and seashores. Yes, some of the flatlands are a bit tedious, as are long stretches of marshland – but every now and then we come upon a sight that impresses, amuses, or fascinates us. We have had some tedious moments in the mountains, too, tiring after hours of twisting and turning. But we still love it! What great countries we live in!

▪.  Chris Clarke on August 12th, 2010 6:52 pm  
Hi Barry,
If you’re in the Tyhee Provincial Park you are in one of the best areas to fish for steelhead that there is. Granted, the optimum time for the “summer run” is mid-September to mid-October (and I’ll be up there again this year), but the Bulkley River is a great place to at least wet your line. The only drawback may be the outrageous prices that BC charge for licenses.
Here in Alberta I have the luxury of not having to buy a license as I am now over 65, but when I go steelheading in BC it will cost me over $115 for the license and steelhead tag ($140 for you who they classify as a “non-resident alien”). Then it costs another $20 per day for the Bulkley. However, the $20 per day (Classified Waters #2) is only in effect from September 1 through October 31. But if you want to fish for trout for only a day it would cost you (or me) $20; or for an 8-day license it would be $50 . 
BC is trout country and you will pass by some beautiful trout streams as you travel through the province. I hope that you get a chance to wet a line and enjoy the ambience.
I know it’s an old saw, but “a bad day fishing is still better than a good day’s work”.
Tight lines,
Chris
PS: I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I’ve made a point of looking for it as soon as my email box opens. Safe journey on your way home.

▪.  Gary on August 12th, 2010 6:58 pm  
WOW !! You do read the response letters. How flattering to know that. Yeah, I would like to keep some open space around everyone, but it seems that the Sierra Club feels they know the best for everyone. I only chose them as they are the ones in the news. There are a lot of “tree huggers” that do so much good and some that do so much harm. I feel the open lands should be left open. Certain restrictions are required. My wife and I, just today, went into the backwoods and found such a mess with trash it really hurts. Bottles, cans, busted boats, paper and … well, you get the idea. Growing up there was NO MESS. Everything was clean and picked up. Population and stupidity. No excuse. As was said ” you can’t fix stupid” Thanks for the trip. Loved it all!!

▪.  Bill Murray on August 12th, 2010 7:08 pm  
We have enjoyed your descriptions of your trip. As an Alaskan RVer I welcome all who want to make the effort to explore our state. We just completed a quick trip up from Seattle where we picked up our new Gulfstream. We did not have as much time but we have been over the “trail” several times. Nonetheless, we enjoy the experience each time. 
Safe journeys….

▪.  William Robinson, Jr. on August 12th, 2010 7:45 pm  
I started out saying, “ahh, I’ll never go to Alaska, so who cares.” Well, I ended up caring!! Great series, kinda sad it’s over. Well done. Robbie

▪.  Terrie Stamey on August 13th, 2010 9:29 am  
I echo the statement from Robbie. Well Done! I have followed along and just loved every minute of your trip. I might never get the chance to go so I went with you. We have a Holiday Rambler Endeavor 08 and the farthest we have gone so far is Yellowstone National Park, where we worked for five months last year at the general store at Lake Yellowstone. What an experience! Thanks again for another wonderful experience! Terrie

▪.  D. Ellis on August 13th, 2010 9:40 am  
I have really enjoyed following your adventure. It would be interesting (at least to me) to learn more about the RV Parks you used along the way. Thanks.

▪.  wayne coggins on August 13th, 2010 4:41 pm  
I`ve enjoyed all your post. looking to making the trip up to Alaska and Canada someday.

▪.  Dennis Rudolph on August 13th, 2010 10:34 pm  
Have enjoyed reading about your trip. As someone who has lived 35 years in one of the towns along your trip and camped extensively in central BC, it seems to me the this website would be a good place to help others plan such a trip. I could have recommended a few stops in this area that your research may not have found. For instance, you could have detoured slightly to Tumbler Ridge and I think you would have been delighted by this unique ‘instant town’. The surrounding area has beautiful scenery, dinosaur traces, two Provincial Parks, one of them at a breathtaking falls, etc. You could have then continued on north to Dawson Creek.
With readers along your planned route, your trip could have been even more amazing. BTW, when my wife and I toured Prince Rupert 25 years ago, the museum had its own archeologist who gave tours in the summer months on the native water taxi school bus all around the surrounding islands and taught us all about the history of the native peoples of the area. Fascinating and inexpensive. Don’t know if they still do that, but a reader in PR might.