Our Alaska Trip Part IV En Route to Canyon Hot Springs

This entry is part 4 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

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

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

Saturday’s leg of the trip north to “Seward’s Folly” was another eight hours of being swaddled in beauty.  The entire route from Oliver to Canyon Hot Springs borders lakes, including Lake Kalamalaka, “The Lake of Many Colors.”  Above us for most of the way were 8,000-foot snow-capped mountains, and along the road were a myriad of different colors of green, in an endless variety of textures.

Lake Kalamalaka, “The Lake of Many Colors.”

Lake Kalamalaka, “The Lake of Many Colors.”

Did we enjoy the ride?  You bet-cha!  Except for a nightmare of trailer maneuvering driving around the City of Vernon, British Columbia, when we werer trying to find a sporting goods store with someone competent enough to sell me the right rod and reel for future attempts at landing salmon.  More on that in a later chapter.

Monique and I traveled alone today, playing leapfrog with many other members of the caravan, as we each chose different stops on the route.  We could all go where we wanted as long as we arrived at the night’s campground by 4:30 p.m.

Members of the group reported seeing eagles landing in their nest, deer, a bear next to the highway, and not-too-wild life at attractions en route.

Beautiful Scenes Along the Road

Beautiful Scenes Along the Road

I’ll take this opportunity to respond to a few questions.  First of all, our own question before signing up:  Did we really want to be part of a group for 58 days? Our answer is that there is no one in the caravan with whom we wouldn’t enjoy having dinner.  It’s a fun-loving, adventurous group.  We consider ourselves lucky to be on this trip.

How do we communicate on the road? Each night Ken Adams, our Wagonmaster, previews the next day’s trip, supplemented by our tailgunner, Spence Schaaf’s input, so we hit the road with a good idea of what to do and how to get there.  We each have a CB radio to let Spence’s wife Madi know that we are leaving.  Throughout the day, we can, but don’t have to let Spence know of delays on the road, but we try to tell him if we will be in camp late.  In these mountains and curvy roads, the CB transmission rarely works, so we do the best we can.

We all have cellphones, but Monique and I have ours turned off.  As we understand it, every time it searches for the network, it runs up the bill.  We called AT&T, our provider, and paid for a reduced per-minute rate when we use the phone in Canada, but it’s still expensive since we are paying a roaming charge.  Several other members of the crew I talked with aren’t sure what their arrangement is.

In addition, Monique and I bought 100 minutes per month of air time through OnStar in our truck.  It apparently picks up signals from any cell tower around, not from a satellite as I was expecting.  There are no additional fees for calls in Canada.  And once we get into Alaska, we’re back on our regular plan, same as in the lower 48.

WiFi is available most places:  however, my connection last night faded away, so this is being posted 12 hours later.

This is the view from the back of our trailer in Canyon Hot Springs

This is the view from the back of our trailer in Canyon Hot Springs

Should you make the trip on your own or with a group? We’re enjoying the experience, but I suggest that you keep asking others about their trip to Alaska and continue reading about our experiences.

Can you get fuel and services in Canada and Alaska? From what we hear, a drop in tourism has taken a toll on service stations along the way, but we don’t expect to have any real problems filling up or getting repairs.

Bad roads destroy RVs. Many of the people we talked with had some kind of damage, usually nothing more than a rock in the windshield, but nobody had any real, lasting problems.  There are bad roads and hazards, but most of the roads are fine in spring and summer. [More on this as the trip proceeds]

And as for specific questions about things we’ve seen, in order to keep these blogs to a minimum, I leave out much of the detail.  You are invited to search the web for more information.

And, as I intimated in the previous article, we spend lots of hours on the road, then have a travel briefing followed by a social get-together.  That doesn’t leave lots of time for writing and processing photos, but I appreciate the opportunity to share the trip with people of like minds.

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Comments

12 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip En Route to Canyon Hot Springs Part IV”

▪.  Shaine on June 13th, 2010 4:18 pm  
Its seems that we’re just a few days ahead of you. But we turned east at Golden, not north…

▪.  Din Milem on June 13th, 2010 4:44 pm  
Am enjoying your trip with you. Actually I’m reliving the trip we took two years ago. We were three small B plus RVs wandering with no real time restraint or schedule. I think a caravan is great for most folks but would have never worked for us.

▪.  Jane on June 13th, 2010 5:15 pm  
Enjoy hearing all your adventures on your trip to Alaska…Look forward everyday to reading your blog…We are planning a caravan trip to Alaska next year, but not sure which company to use…am researching them all…we travel 4 months a year in our RV…Do you unhook your truck for your side trips and then meet back at the campsite at 4:30PM? Have fun!!! Keep writing!!! We will probably do a 34 or 45-day trip…we have a long way to travel just to get to Dawson Creek…

▪.  Steve & Mary Margaret on June 13th, 2010 6:07 pm  
Thank you for the time you take posting your pictures and travels. I look forward every evening reading your adventures. Good Luck with the Salmon

▪.  Jim & Glenna Penny on June 13th, 2010 6:54 pm  
My wife and I are new to all of this but we plan on Alaska next summer. We very much appreciate your posts and look forward every day to read what you have to say. Again, thank-you for your efforts.

▪.  Dave in MN on June 13th, 2010 7:10 pm  
Appreciate the pics as we may never make the trip but enjoy your points of interest and above all keep the pics coming. We love hearing the day-by-day trip log.

▪.  Ronald Schneider on June 14th, 2010 5:18 am  
Thanks for writing, look forward to the next one every day. Been wanting to make the same trip for years maybe this will get us going, Thank you again

▪.  Ken on June 14th, 2010 9:33 am  
We are following your trip with envy. We would like to go next year. Can you send us some info such as itinerary, and with what caravan you are traveling with?
Thanks,
Ken

▪.  Bill on June 15th, 2010 4:00 pm  
This is a trip I wouldn’t mind taking some day. I would be bringing my dog with me since we are joined at the hip. Do you know anything about what is required to enter Canada with your pet and then to enter the United States again and return home with your buddy?

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on June 20th, 2010 3:50 pm  
Good luck with OnStar. Last summer we weren’t able to connect in Canada very often after we reached the Alaska Highway. In Alaska, we seldom had coverage. The satellites just don’t reach that far north. In the mountainous areas, in the southern parts of Canada, OnStar was hit-or-miss. We really didn’t have reliable coverage until we got back to the lower 48. We ended up with a lot of unused minutes.

 On our trip, we had no problem with fuel, but once when I needed a quart of oil, there was none to be found for 200 miles. So you might want to carry some with you or check your oil levels at stops that do have oil. One or two of the out-of-the-way gas stations only accept cash, so be prepared for that.

Our Alaska Trip Part VI Banff & Lake Louise

This entry is part 7 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 15, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 4 Comments  

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

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

It’s been raining off and on all day, and speaking of off and on, we still managed to have an interesting day getting off and on a tour bus for about eight hours today as we toured the resort areas of Banff and Lake Louise in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

The Water at Lake Louise is Really That Blue

The Water at Lake Louise is Really That Blue

“Be aware!  Nothing’s for Free!” or as the locals abbreviate it, “B-a-n-f-f,” according to our tour bus driver.  Banff is your typical, quaint tourist town in the summer when the skiers have gone home.  We spent hours circling muat-see sights, including the hotel and falls, which were included in yesterday’s blog.  Today, most of the members of the caravan rode together on a field trip.

From Banff we traveled to the incredibly turquoise Lake Louise, where we spent almost two hours viewing the lake and chatting leisurely with people visiting the area.  Beautiful, of course, but since I still can’t find enough picturesque words to convey what we experienced, I’ll let a few pictures help and get on to other topics.  The photos are random shots, not the postcards you can see elsewhere.

First and related, as we trekked along Canada Hwy. 1, our driver explained that the entire length of the 4-lane is getting fencing on both sides.  This is because of how often migrating wildlife is killed on that stretch.  What they have done is build “wildlife underpasses,” which are favored by deer, elk and bighorn sheep wanting to cross the roadway, and “wildlife overpasses,” like bears and wolves.  Considering the investment, it had better work.

Juvenile Bighorn Sheep: Is "Sheep" Singular or Plural?  (Yes, it's a photo effect)

Juvenile Bighorn Sheep: Is “Sheep” Singular or Plural? (Yes, it’s a photo effect)

We find the construction underway amazing, and it brings up another point – VALUE.  Whether you embark on a trip to Alaska on your own or with a caravan, as we are doing, it’s expensive.  How expensive depends on your rig’s fuel consumption, your penchant for spending money for food and trinkets, what excursions including cruises that you want to take, where you plan to camp, etc.  You have to decide.  You’re still going to pay for fuel, food and shopping, but signing up with a caravan adds a hefty amount to your outlay.

With that in mind, I think your decision has to be made based on value.  Do research, including digesting what these blogs have to say, and then make up your mind.  We chose the group approach because it relieved Monique of the intricacies of planning each day including deciding what to do and where to go.  Today we found value in learning things that we found fascinating.

Despite the weather, this was another good day.  We did some touring we probably wouldn’t have wanted to do to conserve on diesel.  We hopped on the bus at 7:45 a.m., which was included in the cost of the trip, and that was it.

As I mentioned earlier, we are not a convoy; we have ample opportunity to do our own thing and don’t travel like ducks in row — there can be 10 miles or 50 between rigs.

Site of an Avalanche in the Making Above Lake Louise

Site of an Avalanche in the Making Above Lake Louise

In addition to explaining about the wildlife fencing, our driver told us that scientists predict that the glaciers, which are retracting, will begin expanding again in 10 years.  We are happy for any hopeful news along those lines.

If you come up through British Columbia, you might go through the Okanagan Corridor.  When we started the trip, we pronounced it “O-kanagan” until I changed to “o-KAN-nagan.”  I now think it is really “okan-NA-gan.”  If you’re not coming this way, don’t worry about it.

The Zanders in a Pergola at Banff

The Zanders in a Pergola at Banff

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Comments

4 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part VI Banff & Lake Louise”

▪.  Sucie on June 15th, 2010 10:43 am  
To bad you missed the Valley of the 10 peaks (Moraine Lake), which is located to the Southeast of Lake Louise. It is absolutely breathtaking. Where you turned right to go to the Lake Louise Chateau, you turn left and take the Moraine Lake Road instead. It is about 10 miles or so. Next time you pass through, be sure to make the trip. You won’t be disappointed

▪.  hockeyguy on June 15th, 2010 9:34 pm  
I agree that Valley of the 10 peaks is spectacular with less development than elsewhere. I was there a long time ago and it still is vivid in my mind. It helps that the valley was the model for the back of the old $10 dollar bill at the time. 
I had a meal at the lodge that was there and it was very good by any standard. 
Everywhere else is still spectacular but the valley is unique. Another attraction to look at is the cliffs that are called Hoo-Doos. The best time to look at them is at night after the moon has risen. A little spooky but very striking. I hope to go again someday.

▪.  Bill Stanley on June 16th, 2010 3:43 pm  
Oh-ka-noggin

▪.  Old Grey on June 16th, 2010 8:27 pm  
I’m re-living parts of our travels in BC as you pass through. Wonderful mountains, lakes and waterfalls. Enjoy your travels!
We plan to head to the Yukon and Alaska in the near future. in our 13 ft. trailer. Alas! We will be unable to travel by caravan (great fun that is!) but we will enjoy our trip nearly as much as you are enjoying yours!

Our Alaska Trip Part VII Inspirational Moments

This entry is part 8 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 16, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 6 Comments

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

“Sit awhile and relax, enjoy the beauty that surrounds you:  Towering mountains, soaring birds, whispering pines and awe-inspiring waterfalls.  I am here in the essence of nature. So until we meet again, live life to its fullest for we are here but for a little while.”                                                     From a plaque honoring the accidental death of Barry George Wall at Lower Sunwapta Falls.

Parked by the Athabasca Glacier, an Arm of the Columbia Icefield

Parked by the Athabasca Glacier, an Arm of the Columbia Icefield

Okay, I’ve got to agree with Monique – “It’s all soooo gorgeous!”   I’ve been trying to focus in these blogs on what you might find helpful if you decide to make the trip to Alaska, but while you’re reading all that, we are here reveling in the scenery.

We spent last night in a parking lot; no hook-ups, listing to the left, snow flurries coming at us, NO INTERNET.  But don’t spend too much time pitying us.  The view from the left side of the trailer was spectacular, as the photo above proves.   Outside our window was a glacier only about 80 meters away – oops, we’ve been here five days and I already sound like a Canuck – 250 feet from us.

The Columbia Icefield in Alberta, Canada, is vast, the culmination of many glaciers that

Ice Explorers All in a Row

Ice Explorers All in a Row

produce the only triple continental divide in the world.  The run-off feeds the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans.  Ice 1,000 feet deep, but far less than in centuries past, slowly melts away as the climate warms.  You need to get here in the next 300 years to really appreciate its grandeur.  And throwing facts, figures and descriptions at you isn’t quite the same as seeing the pale blue ice from the “glacial flour” under your feet.  It’s another WOW!

And here’s a defense of signing up for a caravan going to Alaska.  The cost of the bus in

The Blue of Glacial Flour

The Blue of Glacial Flour

2010 and the Brewster Ice Explorer is $49.00 per person.  “Well, should we go?  We can see the glacier from the visitors’ center anyway.”   Had we been on our own, we would have hesitated before pulling out the plastic that would have enabled us to walk on the ice.  Had we saved the $$$, we would have missed a very memorable experience.  For us, we didn’t have to decide because it was included in our registration, along with the $16.90 for entering the National Park.

Oh, and a caveat:  We were up there on the glacier with a bunch of mostly juvenile retirees, many of whom seemed to have lost some inhibitions at high altitude.  And, from our bus/explorer drivers we gleaned some very interesting knowledge.

 

A member of our group takes an unplanned slide down the snowbank ... and enjoyed it.

A member of our group takes an unplanned slide down the snowbank … and enjoyed it.

 

It can only be another "Bear Jam"

It can only be another “Bear Jam”

“Bear Jams.” We were part of ‘em.  A bear jam is where a traveler sees a bear (could also be for a moose, bighorn sheep, anything wild) and everybody stops.  We see a parked car with its engine running, and so we stop.  In 30 seconds, there are dozens of cars and RVs strewn along the side of the road, interspersed with tourists’ cameras and binoculars trained at a moving bush.  Tuesday we saw two black bears and a cinnamon. Bigggg guys.

Grizzlies are best when far away

Grizzlies are best when far away

Then Monique and I stopped for lunch beside Bridal Veil Falls watching it jump, jive and wail down the side of a 10,000-foot Canadian Rockies peak.  Just another spectacular spot along our route.

We turned our RV in at stunning falls recommended by our wagonmaster.  While there, I chanced upon a couple from the U.K. coming off what looked like a no-big-deal trail, who told me, “You’ve got to go there.” Since there was so much enthusiasm in their voices, I ran over the pedestrian bridge crossing the river and grabbed Monique, telling her that we had to go.  “It’s only 2 km each way,” I told her.  I was thinking we were going two-thirds of a mile round-trip, but she corrected me – “It’s almost two and a half miles.”

It led to one of the most inspirational places we have visited in our 11 years of hiking

The Bear that Took Our Picture Said He Wasn't Used to Being on that Side of the Camera

The Bear that Took Our Picture Said He Wasn’t Used to Being on that Side of the Camera

together.  The power of the falls filled our bodies and souls with the richness of nature.  Being in this spot alone, surrounded by raging water and lush green trees and under blue skies and snow-capped mountains, cast a blanket of calm over us.  The plaque (transcribed above and shown below) caused us to give thanks for the opportunity of finding that sacred place.

No more writing for tonight, just some photos.

We Were Where Dorothy Wanted to Be

We Were Where Dorothy Wanted to Be

Young Elk - 7267

Lake Scene 7017

Falls-Plaque 7217

And when, as I look at the 360o panorama and say, “Oh, my God,” it’s just me giving thanks to the Creator for all the beauty around us and that we have the privilege to see.

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

Comments

6 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part VII Inspirational Moments”

▪.  Carol & Wayne on June 17th, 2010 8:17 am  
Thanks to the comments on your daily blogs, and thank you for taking the time to do that… We have decided not to go to Alaska this summer as one of your followers said that August is the rainy season and it rained everyday and that a lot of campgrounds close 1 Sep. Since we are travelling across Canada to go to Kelowna, BC, for 14 Aug for our Granddaughter’s Ponyclub Nationals… . it would be too late.  I would think to continue on to Alaska so we appreciate reading your daily blogs. We have decided that BC is a spot that we need to explore more and Alberta.  We have been to both but just to really visit our daughter and have never taken our 5th wheel there, so the West Coast of Canada is going to be our stay for a month or more.  We will then hopefully venture down to Arizona for a month and home in time for Christmas.  I look in anticipation for your daily blogs and again, thanks for sharing!!!!!! Carol

▪.  Pam on June 18th, 2010 6:10 am  
I’m really enjoying your blog. Keep at it. What was the name of that spectacular falls? And what highway is it off of?

▪.  Sucie on June 18th, 2010 8:23 pm  
Hi, You Two,
We are enjoying your posts. I like the picture of your rig in front of Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Ice Fields. I can remember 37 years ago when we were there you could see the toe of the glacier from the road. We parked our car
about 100 yard from the toe and walked up to it and stood under a shelf to have our pictures taken. Now you can’t even see the toe.
 Happy Trails and Safe Travel,
Susie

▪.  Fred on June 18th, 2010 8:54 pm  
Pam, I would say the falls pictured would have to be crashing through the Maligne Canyon. I have been there many times, since I only live 4 hrs from them.
It truly is a beautiful site to see, both in summer and in winter when most of it
is frozen solid. If you get the time, visit them both seasons. My favorite, of course, is the summer months.
Carry on camping. btw, I love the updates on the trip to Alaska. That is a trip that I must do, but that will be in the next few years. / This year we are travelling to BC. to Christina Lake. Next year my wife and I will have a lot more time on our hands to travel. (We both retire June 2011) Woo hoo……… there is a light at
the end of the tunnel !!

▪.  susan on June 20th, 2010 8:15 am  
Great post, commentary and pictures! Thank you for taking the time.  You are creating quite a journal for yourselves.

Our Alaska Trip Part VIII New Horizons

This entry is part 9 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 18, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 11 Comments

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

Wednesday our travels took us out of the Jasper National Forest of British Columbia, Canada, and into pastureland.  The absolutely stunning vistas we have been exposed to for the past few days have faded into memory, with the help of pictures, and now we’re on to new horizons.

The 185-mile drive wasn’t anything to yawn about.  It still held our interest, but the towering peaks of the Canadian Rockies and Caribou Mountains that lined the left and right of the highway had much less snow and fewer precipitous faces than we had seen for the past week.

Mama & Cubs 7295What kept us scanning the roadsides today?  Well, Mama black bear and two cubs paused from their browsing to check us out.  An elk went springing across an open expanse, thrusting on its hind legs.

At an Ancient Cedar Forest we hiked into a recently found grove of Western RedCedar Hugging 7331 Cedars made up of tall trees believed to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old.  At the end of one part of the trail is a And it really is big:  16 feet in diameter.  Interpretive signs along the path answered questions we didn’t remember asking.  One of my favorite bits of information was that cedars grow in circles for unknown reasons, somewhat like “crop circles and fairy circles.”

The grove was thick with cedars and mosquitoes, because nature puts cedars in damp places, also the natural habitat of ‘skeeters.

Finishing touches are put on Chief O'Darda

Finishing touches are put on Chief O’Darda

And one more stop before we headed to our rendezvous campground for the evening.  Exiting the town of McBride, B.C., we crossed the highway to take a look at carvings by a local eccentric who displays his artwork at the highway intersection.  Monique found several characters she would have liked to adopt but settled on one, now called “Chief O’Darda,” named after the carver.

Since you’ll be driving through Canada on your way to Alaska, it’s a good idea to know conversions.  I was trying to buy bread for a shilling and six pence, but was corrected.  It costs five dollars.  How many liters of air do you put in your tyres?  Okay, that’s all nonsense, but it’s a good idea to become familiar with Canadian conversions before you enter our neighbor’s country.

Most important is knowing speed limits.  It’s probably on your speedometer, but it might be hard to find when you need it.  I taped the conversions to my steering wheel.  Distances are in kilometers, each of which equals 0.62 of a mile.  Each 3.78 litres of fuel equals a gallon.  It’s also convenient to have a chart for temperature and weights.

More about costs here.  It’s not all as bad as you might think.  Gas is about 83 to 97 cents a liter, but today we paid $2.00 a liter at the top of a mountain.  I only put in four liters or $8 for less than one gallon.  For reference, today we hit 1,000 miles on the trip at a total cost of $225 for diesel, which is about the same as regular, and we average 10.9 mpg.

One Less 'Skeeter in the Cedar Fores

One Less ‘Skeeter in the Cedar Fores

Several commenters to these blogs have suggested I add a map of our route.  Between the traveling, touring, blog-writing and trying to keep up with regular chores, it may take a few days to comply, but I will put together a map soon.

Incidentally, today our caravan grew to 18 rigs, with four couples joining us.  Our wagonmaster, tailgunner and their wives hosted a potluck get-acquainted dinner on the lawn of our campground.

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

Comments

11 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part VIII New Horizons”

▪.  Chris Clarke on June 18th, 2010 12:17 pm  
It looks like you’re headed along the Yellowhead Highway (16) and will be going through Prince George (PG – probably already there). At that point you have two options to get to Alaska – heading north up to Dawson Creek (Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway) or continuing west to a place called Kitwanga where you can head up the Stewart-Cassiar highway that ties in to the Alaska highway about 20 Kms west of Watson Lake north of the 60th Parallel. 
The Stewart-Cassiar highway (#37) is very scenic but the road is rougher than the one out of Dawson Creek, but many RVers have taken it both ways. If you’re going the Stewart-Cassiar route and drive a diesel there’s a few things to know. From McBride to PG there is no place really to get diesel and the price of gasoline along that route is outrageous. At PG things and prices get a lot more civilized (it’s just the odor from the local pulp mills that you may have to deal with) Should you go west from PG the next place for fuel would be Vanderhoof and no problem on to Burns Lake, but past Burns Lake it gets a bit dicey for diesel so planning ahead is important.
Houston (BC) may be your next planned stop for diesel but there is only one location for it (the UFA Co-op) and they are not open on weekends. It’s a card access location but the attendant will help you to fill up and pay via credit card or cash. For some reason, Shell & Husky both shut down service stations in Houston and Shell closed down in Smithers as well.
If you are in this area you have reached some more glorious scenery and one of the prime steelhead fishing areas in the Pacific Northwest. I have made an annual pilgrimage to the Bulkley and some of the other rivers around there for the past twenty 5 years and will be back there at the end of September again.
If you go north out of Prince George enjoy the Alaska Highway that the troops built back in wartime as a strategic need.
Happy to hear that you enjoy our part of “God’s Country”.
PS: Google Earth can give a good overview of the routings.

▪.  Chris Clarke on June 18th, 2010 12:22 pm  
Sorry for the lousy spelling – I will make a better effort to proofread if I post again. Age and rapidly disappearing grey cells might be my only defense.

▪.  Mary Dale Underwood on June 18th, 2010 8:58 pm  
I lived in Alaska for 12 years and have driven the Alcan twice. Reading your blog makes me want to hitch-up my travel trailer and join you. Thank you for your wonderful blog, I look forward reading everyone several times. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have a truck and join a group heading north.
Have a safe one ….. mare

▪.  Nancy on June 19th, 2010 3:53 pm  
Have enjoyed your travels and am revisiting our journey to Canada/Alaska last year. It was all absolutely incredible. 
I’m interested in what camera you are using. There are some amazing pictures.
Enjoy

▪.  Dick and Cindy on June 20th, 2010 8:06 am  
On our trip up the Al-Can to Alaska in early 2009 we happened through a town that looked like it was having a festival and it had all these wonderful wood carvings everywhere as we drove through. I looked it up in our travel book and saw that this was the annual wood carving festival in McBride. Unfortunately, Dick didn’t like all the crowds and vehicles and so we didn’t get to stop! I think it should be one of the many things/events to consider in planning a trip up there!

▪.  robert on June 20th, 2010 8:40 pm  
Barry and Monique,
I wouldn’t lay it on so thick with the conversions. You are travelling through Canada, your largest trading partner and the largest importer or your oil and gas. I own two cars, each showing kilometers per hour in large font and miles per hour in smaller font. Conversely, my class A motorhome, purchased in the USA has miles per hour in large font than the kilometers per hour which are also shown. If you find it necessary to tape the conversions to your steering wheel you are probably challenged, and for those unfortunates who actually are, I won’t detail how. Enjoy your travels through the second largest country in the world, after Russia, and try not to obsess over the fact that you are not in the USA. You will enjoy the experience much more, and not sound like the stereotypical, obnoxiou American tourist that has been portrayed in so many of your movies.

▪.  robert on June 20th, 2010 8:43 pm  
Correction, I said we are the largest importer of your oil and gas, we are the LARGEST SUPPLIER OF YOUR OIL AND GAS. Unfortunately, it does cost a little more up here:)

▪.  jim on June 26th, 2010 10:59 am  
like your story. makes me want to pack 5th wheel and head to Alaska again. Very nice scenery all the way.

▪.  Lennie on June 26th, 2010 11:05 am  
Sirius radio is the only radio that will work in the mountains – LOL just don’t let your subscription run out half way thru the Pine Pass like I did. Makes for a boring solo trip with no music when it’s raining! Lucky guys we loved our trip to Alaska and you make us want to pack up and head there again.

▪.  boat rentals in orange county on August 16th, 2012 11:59 am  
Fortunately for me, I have done this trip with my family and I. It was amazing and yes there is no radio reception in the mountains once you get out in the wilderness. Alaska is the last frontier in America and I hope it intends to stay that way. Thank you for the article.

Our Alaska Trip Part X The Story of the Highway

This entry is part 11 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 21, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 9 Comments

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

Busy day, both as members of the caravan and on our own.  The day began with a paradeMile 0 - 7474 of our cars to the downtown section of the Town of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, where we took advantage of the Sunday morning peacefulness to gather under the sign at the start of the Alaska Highway.  Once the last camera clicked, we dispersed into the quaint, quiet town or down the road to take in historic sites.  Free time.  We enjoyed our walk around town, particularly seeing the historical murals on the sides of many buildings.  Then Monique’s innate talent for finding European delis took over and led us to one of the very few businesses open on Sunday, a deli with good coffee and good ham and cheese croissants.  I know that sounds a little too “bloggy,” but it’s included as a suggestion that if you roam just about any town for a few minutes, no telling was surprises you’ll discover.

Murals throughout Downtown Show the Town's History

Murals throughout Downtown Show the Town’s History

Here is my most important advice of the day:  in addition to keeping mosquito repellant handy, if you’re heading for Alaska don’t start your trip up the Alaska Highway without stopping by the Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce to watch the PBS film on how the Army did the impossible task of building the highway ahead of schedule.  Once you see the film, you’ll better understand why this road has been named a Historical Civil Engineering Marvel by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  After seeing the movie, in addition to driving the road, you will be ready to feel the pain and pride that built it.

The Curved Bridge, Built with the Highway in 1942, Has Been Bypassed

The Curved Bridge, Built with the Highway in 1942, Has Been Bypassed

Monique and I returned to our trailer in time to do a little more cleaning up from the disastrous bumps we hit the day before – which, Wagonmaster Ken Adams clarified as being just bumps, not frost heaves as other travelers had told me.  Those will come later, when we do reach colder weather.  Incidentally, today was in the 70s with mostly clear skies.

Before writing about the final stop of the day, since this is not only about the trip to Alaska, but also about traveling as part of a caravan, I should give you a little more information about the roles of the Wagonmaster, Tailgunner and their wives.  Some time before each travel day, Ken gives us a briefing on what’s ahead.  While he’s doing that, we’re following along making notes in our Travel Log, which was given to us on Day 1.

The comb-bound guidebook tells us distances between the RV park we are in and stops along the way, including sights we might want to check out, fuel and eating spots, steep downgrades, curves and bad sections of road, and how to get into the next night’s campground.  It includes maps of towns and campgrounds.

Then Carole Adams, Tailgunner Spence Schaaf and wife Madeline add to the briefing, as needed.  Now, much of this information and more is in “Mileposts,” which we are encouraged to use to supplement their information.  I assume that Adventure Caravans isn’t the only company that provides this type of information to its “guests.”  One of the primary reasons we decided to sign up with the caravan is that we expected them to reduce the amount of planning and stress for us.  It is working out that way.

No need to mention other functions of our staff now.  I’ll just assure you they have many duties, including things like preparing and serving us breakfast a couple of days ago.

The Caravan Took a Hayride into a Bison Pasture

The Caravan Took a Hayride into a Bison Pasture

Our final stop of the day began with a bus ride to a wild animal farm.  After a buffet dinner of bison, venison and wild boar, we took a walk along a row of

pens and then climbed aboard a wagon for an old fashioned hayride into the fields.  Bison,Mtn Goat 7604 elk, musk ox, reindeer, mountain goats and a host of other interesting beasts milled around watching us as we invaded their pastures and habitats.  Monique and I found the wildlife interesting, but we mostly enjoyed the camaraderie at the dinner and during the hayride.

 

Two Bad Signs: Pub for Sale and Bumps Ahead!

Two Bad Signs: Pub for Sale and Bumps Ahead!

Tomorrow is a long ride from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, B.C.  The days continue to get longer.  I awoke at 4:10 this morning to find the skies hazy bright.  It’s10:30 p.m. now and dusk seems to be setting in.  We continue to climb northward.

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

Comments

9 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part X The Story of the Highway”

▪.  susan on June 21st, 2010 4:46 pm  
Still reading your every post, even if I don’t respond.
Enjoying them immensely..Keep up the good work!
Enjoy and safe travels…Sue

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on June 21st, 2010 6:42 pm  
I concur. The film on building the Alaska Highway is a must. Don’t miss it.

▪.  Billk on June 21st, 2010 7:32 pm  
Wait till you find the Huge Honey Buns, as BIG as your HEAD.
Your Blog brings back a lot of great memories.

▪.  MikeA on June 21st, 2010 9:47 pm  
Thank you so very much for doing your travelog. I so want to take the trip-but haven’t due to a number of reasons. Some day! But living vicariously-thanks to you.

▪.  Bill on June 22nd, 2010 8:28 am  
I haven’t actually made it to Alaska but I have seen a show on TV dedicated to the building of the Alaska Highway. I believe it was one of the Modern Marvels shows on the History Channel but it might have been a show on National Geographic.
Anyhow it was very interesting and pretty amazing how the road was built and what the people who built it had to go through.
Thought I’d put this in for people (like me) who have never been there but want to know more about it. That stuff repeats so the show will be on again sometime. You might also be able to view it on the internet if you know how to find and view that kind of stuff on line.

▪.  William Stanley on June 22nd, 2010 12:38 pm  
It’s from the PBS series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. “Building the Alaska Highway”
It’s a great production!

▪.  Rob Hughes on June 23rd, 2010 6:25 pm  
Interesting blog. Hope to make that trip in about 5 years. Am following your comments intently. Thanks!

▪.  Mike Stoneham on June 23rd, 2010 7:01 pm  
Great blog. Very interesting. My wife and I plan to head out Spring 2012. Trying to decide whether or not to caravan.

▪.  Gerald Hennings on March 18th, 2012 2:53 pm  
My wife and myself and another couple are planning our trip to Alaska starting June 1st, 2012. We are from the interior of British Columbia and are looking for a couple of more rigs to come along, maybe 7 rigs max. trying to keep it small and simple for camping etc. There is no extra costs attached but just come with your ideas etc.

Our Alaska Trip Part XI The Alaska Highway

This entry is part 12 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 24, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 22 Comments

This is the 11th in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

“Those people who turned back are more focused on the destination than the journey.”  Monique Zander

WiFi – FINALLY!  We haven’t had WiFi available for a few days, including Thursday morning when all power was out in the metropolis of Watson Lake, Yukon Territory.  It’s part of the journey.  To celebrate being connected again, this edition of Our Alaska Trip blog is divided into two parts:  1) Notes on our travels and 2) Impressions of RVing to Alaska.

CHAPTER 1 – THE LONG, BORING ALASKA HIGHWAY

 This Is the Scene Before Us for Many of 1,500 Miles of the Alaska Highway

This Is the Scene Before Us for Many of 1,500 Miles of the Alaska Highway

When we left off on our blog two days ago, we were excited about the prospect of feeling the rubber on our 10-ply tires rolling onto the famous Alcan Highway, which is officially the “Alaska Highway” because it was built by the U.S. Army in 1942 to get materiel to Alaska needed to head off a Japanese invasion.  It was originally called the Pioneer Highway and the Military Highway … now is officially Hwy. 97.

At about 9:50 a.m. we were on the road headed toward Fort Nelson, B.C., and then the fun began … and faded.    During the intervening 283 miles, we saw a Walmart/Sam’s Club truck, the carcass of an animal that had died of boredom, and a bicyclist pumping up his tire on the side of the road at Mile 235.  If this was a tough ride for us, we couldn’t imagine what he was going through.

A promised highlight of the drive was the Honey Place, billed as the world’s largest glass beehive.  Like many other attraction along the way, it had a CLOSED sign on the side of the building.  [We did see a swarm of bees circling the place, probably waiting for it to reopen.]

Earlier in the day we flew past fuel pumps at Pink Mountain, electing to fill up at Sasquatch Crossing since we live in Sasquatch’s cousin, a Bigfoot trailer, but there was no fuel there, so we went about 100 yards to the Husky station, which was closed.  It was back to Pink Mountain to fill up at $1.19 per liter.  And this is a good time to mention that we now appreciate the advice of filling up the tank whenever you can.  We have passed numerous service stations that are closed.

When we entered a patch of farming country after about 200 miles of this monotony, I suggested we might consider agriculture since we were already growing weary [Moan from Monique].  This, the longest leg of the journey so far, could be characterized as a journey between monster trucks carrying large cargo, and, on the good side, the ^^^ signs along the way indicating bumps weren’t as devastating as the previous day’s drive.

Now, please don’t get me wrong.  We have been on other beautiful, but monotonous highways in America, and the prospect here of seeing incredible vistas in a day or two keeps us ready for more driving.

Muncho Lake, B.C. -- Surreal Beauty

Muncho Lake, B.C. — Surreal Beauty

We saw no muskeg mires (the name for the deep muck that the Army contended with in 1942) or permafrost, which, as it melts takes the road away with it.  As mentioned previously, while in Dawson Creek we watched an outstanding PBS movie about the building of what the American Society of Civil Engineers labeled, “a Historical Civil Engineering Marvel.”  Seeing all the pain and pride that went into its construction made us eager start at Mile 0 of the Alaskan Highway.

 In the eclectic Fort Nelson Museum there is a mini-theater that features another version of the history of the road, this one much different than the PBS production.  This less-polished film filled us in on improvements made after the road officially opened in August 1942.

For a big finish on the day, we walked through Marl Brown’s auto museum.  Our

Marl Brown -- Still Chuggin' Along

Marl Brown — Still Chuggin’ Along

tailgunner’s wife, Madeline, asked Marl if he’d been here all his life.  “Not yet,” he told her.  Two years ago this month, Marl drove a 100-year-old Buick from Fort Nelson to Whitehorse and back.  He has a wonderful display of antique cars in operating condition.

Monique and I have seen a few animals on the way, but not nearly as many as our fellow travelers report.  Common sightings are black bears, bison, stone sheep and moose.  We may be the only one’s to see (and photograph) a

Our Red Fox

Our Red Fox

beautiful red fox, and today a wolf watched us go by from the side of the road.

Just to clarify, a “stone sheep” or “stone bear,” etc., is a beautiful animal seen from a distance, but as you get closer, you realize it’s a boulder with an sort of animal shape.

There hasn’t been as much delay as we expected from bad roads or road repairs.  There have been a few incidents of damage to caravan vehicles; however, all of them seem to be typical when you consider we are a group of 20 rigs, and the distractions are many.  We’ve been lucky.

IMG_7741

And for me, Wednesday was one of the most important days of the trip:  we crossed into Yukon Territory.  Lots of people have been to Canada and the number who have traveled to Alaska is incredible.   To me, the Yukon has always held a special fascination.  It symbolizes wilderness and hardship.  After all, it was the patrolling grounds of Sgt. Preston of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with his heroic dog, Yukon King.  No change in scenery since British Columbia, but I’m still excited.

  CHAPTER  2– THE RV EXPERIENCE

Tuesday while enjoying the heat in the natural spas of Liard Hot Springs, we met some folks heading back to Manitoba after having a boat excursion cancelled and because two of them were afraid of driving on the high roads.  Asked about enduring the boredom ahead going down that same highway, one gentleman replied, “No problem.  At our age we can’t remember what we saw yesterday anyway.”

Monique and I have no problem being together for these long hours.  Yet, the opportunity to run into other members of our crew at roadside cafes and in the campgrounds makes the trip more enjoyable for us.  Another plus for group travel.

Even with fairly manicured roads, this is not a trip for the timid.  We met a lady who was begging her husband to turn back because she didn’t like conditions of the private campgrounds.  They are overflowing with RVs and tent campers, and although the owners appear to be trying to do everything they can to accommodate their guests, it can get to be a zoo.

Remember, they can’t exactly run down to the hardware store to buy items to make repairs.  What we’re seeing mostly is trees, with a few rivers and lakes, and every now and then a service station/restaurant without a closed sign, but mainly trees.

If you have a car or RV problem along the way, be prepared for inconvenience.  We heard a report of a truck that needed service, and at three repair shops the travelers were invited to make an appointment for the next day or beyond.  And, despite the advice of the local mechanics, the repair wasn’t needed.

Lower back pain from being in the vehicle everyday for long hours can creep up on you.  Mine was allayed by a dip in the sulfur-rich Liard Hot Springs.  I wanted to stay there for two weeks, but our travel schedule wouldn’t allow the break.

And speaking of that, the nature of the planned caravan is that we have little free time, time to rest or do minor changes and repairs to our RVs.  Is that good or bad?  Well, if we traveled on our own and wanted to stay two weeks in Liard Hot Springs or three days in Dawson Creek to rest up a bit, it would mean that our trip would take longer, and it would play havoc with any reservations for side-trips ahead.

Prices of diesel and gas vary according to the remoteness of the service station from $0.83 up to $2.00 a liter (a liter is just a little over four to a gallon).  Food prices also rise as you get further into nowhere, but, in the defense of the owners, their cost of electricity and other services does too.  We’ve indulged in very good cinnamon rolls two days in a row.

The weather has been beautiful, warm and party cloudy for most of our journey.  I personally welcome the low-hanging clouds as a variation on the theme of abundant trees with beautiful dark green rivers and the Northern Canadian Rockies in the distance.

Enough for today.  According to the clock, its sunset, but someone forgot to tell the sun.

70,000 signs in Watson Lake and 7,500 Hats at Toad River Lodge

70,000 signs in Watson Lake and 7,500 Hats at Toad River Lodge

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

Comments

22 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XI The Alaska Highway”

▪.  jim on June 24th, 2010 10:18 pm  
sounds like ur having a great time.
i would think the benefit of riding with a caravan would be warning of the upcoming permafrost.
a litre is greater than a quart. i think there are 0.948 liters/qt. ur doing a little better on fuel prices than u think. although, $2/litre is high no matter how ur convert it.
my wife and i are really enjoying ur trip. we look forward to ur post.

▪.  Bob West on June 25th, 2010 8:05 am  
I assume you either got the wifi after power returned or in Whitehorse. The scenery will be lovely along the way and you will have some frost heaves but overall the journey is the key. Always interested in the perspective of those enjoying the trip. I especially enjoy your reflections on a guided caravan. We considered that and then decided to go it alone but the folks running together seemed to be having a lot of fun as well.

▪.  Jeff Glazer on June 25th, 2010 9:22 am  
Having been both a Trekmaster and a Tailgunner on Alaska treks I agree with many of the things you say. The biggest down side to a caravan in my opinion is the fixed schedule and the inability to stay a day or 2 longer someplace. I think the security and camaraderie more than make up for it.

I have to strongly disagree, however, with your characterization of the ride as boring. We never got tired of the beautiful scenery, and there were always interesting animal and sights around the next bend. Yes, some stretches were longer than others, but we always looked forward to new sights and new adventures.
Your descriptions of the gas stations was right-on as was that of the campgrounds. Those campgrounds are what our family refers to as a “dancing bear.” The amazing thing about a dancing bear is not how well it dances but that it dances at all. Some of these campgrounds barely eke out a living in the middle of nowhere. I always appreciate that they are there at all. And with rare exceptions the people are always terrific to work with.
The one most important things to bring on an Alaska trek is a sense of humor. Things will go wrong. Roll with the punches. It makes for a great story when you get home. Like the time I left a campground on the Cassiar Highway with the parking brake on in my toad. 300 miles to the nearest new tires in my size. How we made it I will never know.
If you like to drive and are willing to take things as they happen the Alaska Highway is an absolute must for an RVer.

▪.  Bert Smith on June 25th, 2010 5:05 pm  
I have made the trip 6 times and it was never boring I enjoyed ever minute of the trips. The first trip was 1964 and the last trip was 2006. O what a bunch of changes were made. I hope to make the trip again in 2012

▪.  Kurt Hammerschmidt on June 25th, 2010 5:51 pm  
Something to look for when you are in Alaska is a book of poems by Robert Service.
They all speak of the life of a miner during the gold rush days of Alaska and most Alaskans are very proud of his poems. Many bars in Fairbanks have recital contests.
Or at least they did when I lived there in 1964.

[Barry’s note:  I bought the book]

▪.  Jim Sathe on June 25th, 2010 7:01 pm  
I am following this closely because we made the same trip in 2008. This brings back many memories. We loved the whole experience except the last 60 miles before the Alaskan Border.
Anyone wanting to read my blog on our trip can go to http://www.jimrosietravels.blogspot.com
Eagerly waiting to hear of your future adventures.
Jim

▪.  Don & Irene Ritchey on June 25th, 2010 8:00 pm  
We have made this trip nearly every year for the past 10 years or so as we live in Northern BC (Terrace) it makes the journey easier for us. We have gone both ways often going up Hwy 37 out of Kitwanga and returning down the Alaska highway and twice taking the Alaska ferry from Skagway to Prince Rupert BC only 1 1/2 hrs away from our home. That is a journey fondly remembered but somewhat costly.
We often go up into Alaska as well as the North no matter whereis such an experience. The Yukon once had a slogan “the majic & the mystery” We also always go it alone as it is truly the journey not the destination.
Memories last for a lifetime and I hope you capture all the north has to offer. You will likely return.

▪.  Peggy on June 25th, 2010 8:18 pm  
You labeled Chapter 1 as: ‘…CHAPTER 1 – THE LONG, BORING ALASKA HIGHWAY…’
I love reading your updates and how it is traveling in an RV…
As I said in an earlier post, I have travelled this same route with my husband via motorcycle… 
I was the passenger; we were together 24/7; only a 3.2 gallon gas tank on our first ride to Alaska; remember Pink Mountain; a couple of the areas where we were lucky to get gas and who had those HUGE cinnamon buns… I remember two of those places we stopped at I had used one of our debit cards and didn’t look at the amount until we were at our next destination… I was so disheartened that they were so dishonest…!!! I keep saying “..I will trust people…” and then something like the large-overcharging occurs…
Believe the Alcan Highway is the Alaskan/Canadian Highway…
Abundant trees – I’m not sure but think they are ‘fir’ trees that can be seen throughout the mountain ranges, etc, especially from Yukon Territory towards Whitehorse and Alaska…
We found many of the gas stations were closed on Sundays but the owners said “…just knock on our door and we’ll get you some gas…” Some of the little stations/cafes were set back off the road where we had to turn around and go back… Once we stopped then so many others saw us (motorcycles; RV’s; campers, etc.) and stopped too…
Watson Lake and the ‘Sign Forest’ – I have a sister and brother-in-law who nailed their sign from Oakdale, Connecticut in one of those areas… We stayed in the area of Watson Lake twice in 2009 (once up and once back)… Personally, it was hot; dirty and nothing available for the traveler… Very little air in the motel room, etc… We had decided in the future we would bypass that area even if it meant riding further…
Love the picture of you on the ‘open road’ with all the trees, bush etc on the side of the road… I was happy to see the trees/bush cut back at least 20/30′ along each side of the highway… Certainly helped in seeing the animals alongside the road – moose are really huge animals along with the buffalo…
It was so interesting and love what you are passing onto others… Thank you…

▪.  Alice on June 25th, 2010 9:31 pm  
I’m loving your blog. I have too many fond memories to ever be bored of the trip but it is an endurance drive to be sure.
I’ve driven the Alcan 9 times, plus took the ferry once. Each time is an adventure. The first time I drove it was in 1964 in a brand new Karman Ghia. I’ve driven it twice alone and in every season. One of my favorite spots is Liard Hot Springs. Well worth a two-week stay! And Winter in Liard, wonderful!
Expensive fuel, closed businesses–it’s always been that way. Although even more closures October thru May. The roughest time on the road is Spring, very messy and rough.
Watch out for rocks. They take out a windshield in nothing flat. When you get into Alaska, make sure everything is battened down and take her easy, usually lots of ^^^ though they never used to give you those lovely warnings.
 All that said, I’m feeling the need to do it again, and go for number 10.
Happy trails! Oh yes, I was one of those crazy people reciting Robert Service and doing the Can-Can in Fairbanks, entertaining the tourists! When my kids and I get together, we turn off all electricity and fire up the kerosene lanterns and recite him still…”The Northern Lights have seen queer sights..”

▪.  Bill on June 25th, 2010 11:01 pm 
We took the same trip last year with another tour company. You are pretty much following the same route we did. We loved the trip and made it in our Cameo 5er with only a few defective tire problems. We enjoyed the museum at Fort Nelson and met Marl. What a great guy. He started the old Buick and drove it around the yard. Isn’t the scenery amazing? We couldn’t get over the Canadian Rockies. I look forward to reading your blog and hope continue to have a safe trip.

▪.  Jerry X Shea on June 25th, 2010 11:13  Just did this trip last year. Driving I-5 in California can be boring, driving the Alcan, no way. Just take a look at the photo you posted above tell me what road in the lower 48 you drive all day long and see that beauty? I guess everyone has their own definition of what is “boring” but I have to go with Jeff Glazer above. Sounds like this trip will give you a good perspective of what “full timing” is like. Works for some and not for others.
Still enjoy reading about your travels and remember every place well.

▪.  Frank on June 26th, 201Thanks for your Blog, it is VERY interesting! I made the trip in 1981 on our honeymoon, and still remember all the sites you are talking about. Man….I gotta make time to do it again!!!!!
Thanks again for writing about your trip!

▪.  Barry S on June 26th, 2010 7:45 am  Thanks for such a great write. As for Sergeant Preston and Yukon King, all I can say is, ” ON King…..ON you Huskies.”

▪.  Ken C on June 26th, 2010 10:59 am  
Boring can be good. I drove to Whitehorse in the early 60s in an old jeep as a scout car ahead of my sister’s 50′ x 12′ trailer home that they had overloaded with all their worldly possessions – blew 6 tires on the trip. Road mostly gravel/mud then. Couldn’t get above 25mph without blowing tires! I had a horrible toothache the whole way. Boring would have been nice.

▪.  Jim Hutt on June 26th, 2010 8:34 pm  
Thanks so much for your wonderful travel log. The wife and I were scheduled to make the trip to Alaska this summer. But due to my medical problems, surgery and chemo, we are having to postpone the trip until next year, Lord willing. We are enjoying your experiences and pictures as you are able to share them along the way. I know that your travel log and pictures take some time to generate and share. Those of us that are currently unable to make this trip can at least get a glimpse of the nature’s beauty of the U.S. and Canada. I look forward to reading your experiences along the way, great job! Many thanks from South Texas. Hope to see with my own eyes what you and Monique are now experiencing and enjoying along the way.

▪.  oregon coast cabin rentals on June 30th, 2010 8:01 am  
This post has remind me some of the great memories which I spend with my friends in Alaska. It seems that you guys are having quite great fun.

▪.  property management las vegas on January 3rd, 2012 12:18 am  
Recently He was started the old Buick and drove it around the yard. Isn’t the scenery amazing. We couldn’t get over the Canadian Rockies. I look forward to reading your blog and hope continue to have a safe trip.

▪.  home owners association management on January 6th, 2012 11:48 pm  
”When we entered a patch of farming country after about 200 miles of this monotony, I suggested we might consider agriculture since we were already growing weary.”

▪.  Barry Zander – I think that by saying it was boring I was setting you up for a couple of one-liners; e.g., an animal that died of boredom.  Neither of us would ever opt for the destination over the journey.  We soaked up beauty, serenity, grandeur and the excitement of being there.

 

Our Alaska Trip Part XIXa Bucket List

This entry is part 21 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 9, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 11 Comments

This is the 19th in a continuing series about our trip to Alaska

 Majestic Mt. McKinley, North America's Highest

Majestic Mt. McKinley, North America’s Highest

On 99 days out of the hundred of summer in Denali National Park, Mt. McKinley – highest peak in North America – is either totally or partially obscured by clouds.  We have talked to many people who saw only the base or part of the grand mountain.

Thursday, the day our caravan boarded a bus for Denali, IT WAS THE ONE PERCENT!  During our 13 hours on the bus, every glimpse of the Alaskan Range in Denali provided a sparkling view of these snow-covered giants.

If you saw the movie “The Bucket List” you know it means doing the things you wanted to do in life before you kick the bucket.  I didn’t know I had a bucket list until yesterday.

We saw, from top, Arctic ground squirrel, moose, trumpeter swan, wolf, Mt. McKinley, Dall sheep and grizzly bear -- plus, eagles, harriers, hikers, bikers, muskrat, caribou, ducks, ptarmigan, gulls and probably more

We saw, clockwise from top, dall sheep, a mama moose with her calf, a ptarmigan, a wolf, a trumpeter swan and grizzly bears, plus  Arctic ground squirrels, eagles, harriers, hikers, bikers, muskrat, caribou, ducks, gulls and probably more .. and, then, there was a mountain or two.

Today I’m heading for a whitewater-rafting trip, so I’ll try to keep this short.

I’ve got to start out by saying, “I’m stoked” with the comments from the “Audience Participation” article [See Part XVIII].  The diversity of thought is, I’m sure, much appreciated by those thinking of traveling here.  On our caravan, we have mostly motorhomes, two 5th wheels, a Winnebago View and a Citation in what I would call the Class A in-between class, a Class B and one travel trailer (ours).  No one seems to think his/her rig isn’t appropriate for the difficult trip.

Yesterday we woke up to having no water service in the campground.  One day one of our campgrounds had a power outage; another time, it was the entire town.  Most of us just say, “Well, that’s Alaska.”  As RVers we try to be ready for anything the road throws at us, so I think that the glitches along our path make it an experience.

It’s no big thing, according to group member Bill Kern and wife Marilyn, who made this same trip10 years ago.  “The infrastructure is much better today,” he said.  There is far less gravel and far less construction along the way.  Ten years ago at this same RV park by Denali, there was no communication.  No phones and of course no internet.  Today, everyone camping here can get on the park’s WiFi (except me).  Bill said they are pleasantly surprised by the differences.

Because of the harsh winter conditions, I don’t know if this land will ever lose its sense of adventure.  Personally I’m thankful for the improvements; thankful for the opportunity to rough it.

Getting back to yesterday’s Denali visit, the word “spectacular” probably comes closest to summing it up.  Larry, our bus driver, reminded us often that he has rarely if ever seen it like that in eight years.  A ranger at the visitors center in the park agreed it was a 1 percent day for the summer, although there are a few more clear days in winter.

This is a good time to mention that the density of visitors to Denali is sparse.  Personal vehicles are only allowed to go in 15 miles.  Most shuttle buses go about 32, and very few do what we did, going all the way to Denali Backcountry Lodge at the end of the road 92 miles from the entrance.  We went 184 miles and could only lose interest for a few minutes before something else drew our undivided attention.

We were blessed with perfect weather conditions and the variety of wildlife that came to see us yesterday.  We hope you get the same views, but thankfully the powers above knew we were doing this blog and wanted you to have an idea of all there is to see here.

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

Comments

11 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XIX Bucket List”

▪.  Jerry X Shea on July 9th, 2010 4:27 pm  
Talk about “luck.” What a great treat you guys had. Spent a week there and saw nothing by rain. When we took the bus ride the driver said ” Mt. McKinley is over there.” So I took a picture “over there” of what we could not see.

▪.  Sid Burklund on July 9th, 2010 5:36 pm  
I am glad to hear you had such a great day visiting the park! Been there twice and it rained both times but that’s OK as we live in Washington State and our mountains are many and beautiful.
 A comment about the bus ride:  on our last trip we decided to take the bus into the park for wildlife viewing. To our dismay and before the bus left, I concluded that there wasn’t enough leg room for me. I have arthritis in both legs and am 6′4″ and would not have made 10 miles let alone the trip you took. I am happy for you but just a warning to those that have health issues, the bus won’t turn around for you.
I enjoy your posts and have the time of your lives.
sburk

▪.  Margie on July 9th, 2010 6:35 pm  
I’ve lived in Alaska for 7 years now and have been to Denali many times (including just a couple of weeks ago) and I have NEVER seen the mountain look like that. I’m happy you guys were so fortunate!!! We definitely get crystal clear days like today, but being in Anchorage, even when Denali is out in all its glory as it was this morning, it is still almost 250 miles away and doesn’t compare to what you guys got to see. Good for you!!!

▪.  susan on July 9th, 2010 8:03 pm  
Good for you! What a day you had…so glad you could see the mountain so clearly.
What memories!

▪.  jim hammack on July 9th, 2010 8:53 pm  
We went on a cruse 3 years ago and took the land tour to Denali. We got glimpses of the mountain, saw lots of wildlife. was told by the driver what a good day we had with all the wildlife and the view of Denali. We had a wolf walk down the road toward us then walked out into the brush. the driver killed the engine on the bus as soon as the wolf was spotted. saw lots of sheep, bear, moose, and several varieties of birds.
this past sept, we took another cruise with land tour to Alaska. took a shorter trip into Denali. we went about a mile beyond the Bradied River and listened to a native describe life in Alaska. we were then driven back to the lodge (not the one in the park). the highlight of that tour was someone spotting a wolf that turned out to be a dog tied to the bumper of a motorhome at the visitors center. the mountain was not out that day.
the first tour was all day. the second lasted at most 4 hrs. the driver also pointed out how lucky we were to have the native elder describe life in his village. i didn’t feel the same; especially after being on a better tour a couple years earlier. my point is that they all hype their tour. sometimes it is really a good tour. there is also more than one guided tour into the park: stay away from the natural history tour…it is a real bust. the wilderness tour is a good one. we saw very little wildlife on the natural history tour. those that took the wilderness tour, the same day, saw about what we had seen on it a couple of years earlier. the animals cooperated on the wilderness tour but were apparently on strike on the natural history tour.
we did get some very clear views of Denali from the train to Anchorage the next day though. i mean very clear.

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on July 10th, 2010 8:03 am  
Congratulations on seeing the mountain. The brochures say you are more likely to see a grizzly bear than the mountain. We didn’t see the mountain, but we did get some great pictures of a mother grizzly and her young ones. We met some people on the bus who saw the mountain the day before and they exchanged some pictures of it with us.
I agree with the comments about the bus ride. If you aren’t up to a long and torturous ride, don’t try it. There is no turning back and it can be a miserable day. The hours going out will be broken by seeing the sights, but coming back will be several hours of pure misery.

▪.  Thomas Pallone on July 10th, 2010 9:08 am  
I have been enthralled reading about your Alaskan adventure. While I am a modest 5th wheeler in the lower forty-eight, I have not attempted anything quite so edgy as this. Thank you and again, thank you for giving all of us a rare glimpse into such a journey and allowing some vicarious thrills along the way! This has really inspired me to move out into even more of the country. The picture of Mt. McKinley is dazzling!

▪.  JimHutt on July 10th, 2010 11:17 am  
Thanks for all the great dialog and pictures. We are enjoying your trip even though we are not there. Hope to make the trip next year.
I copied and pasted the picture of Mt. McKinley to an 8X10 print, it is beautiful.
Looking forward to reading and seeing more of the wonder sites as you folks continue your journey. Thanks again for taking the time to share!

▪.  Julian Cane on July 10th, 2010 4:58 pm  
Just got back from 6 weeks in AB, BC, YK and Alaska. One huge and big place. Disappointed in Denali……Yosemite is better. If going I would forget THE TOP OF WORLD HIGHWAY as the day I took it, it started to drizzle, then rain then hail and more hail to the point we had to come to a complete stop. The road is dirt and the rain turned it into a sea of mud and was tough to navigate. The next day we heard a Class A went off the road but fortunately on the high side. Chicken was a huge disappointment. Fuel got to $6/gal and was sparse in some places. The Canadian border folks are tough and it took some of them 30 minutes to clear me.
Need more info???????? give a holler

▪.  Phil S on July 12th, 2010 12:36 am  
The 9th was indeed a great day here in Denali. I work for the National Park Service here at Denali National Park and it’s always great to hear when visitors have a great visit. The 9th is when my wife and I traveled from our home here in Denali to Wasilla, and picked up our very first travel trailer! We enjoyed the view of Denali all the way home! I sure have enjoyed reading about your travels and looking forward to continued reading about your wonderful journey!

▪.  Lynne Schlumpf on July 17th, 2010 4:09 pm  
Where we live off the North Birchwood exit in Chugiak, we get to see Denali hundreds of times during the year, and I have to say the most beautiful she is has to be on a gray winter’s day on New Years. She never fails to show us her pink and orange glowing beauty on that day. We also get to see her all the time from the end of our driveway. Where we live is one of the few places where you can see her almost year round. So glad you got to see her.
Lynne
Here’s what she looks like on New Years every year: http://www.alaskainmydreams.com/images/denalipic.jpg

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