Our FAVORITE STOPS IN THE MARTIMES – PART II

This entry is part 10 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

Why was Monique eager to embark on this 17,050-mile tour from California to Canada’s Atlantic Provinces and back?  First, to eat lobsters and crabs.  Second, to see puffins.  Third, because it’s there, a place that we rightfully expected to be a new horizon on our seven years of RV travel.

At the Root Cellar Capital of the World

At the Root Cellar Capital of the World

We definitely did not go there because Elliston, Newfoundland, is “The Root Cellar Capital of the World,” and after seeing a few dozen root cellars, we are still not oohing and aahing, but  it’s all part of the mind-expanding reason for travel.  My impression of a root cellar is a door that comes out of a knoll, behind which are shelves.  Let’s move on.

We arose early in our Bonavista, NF, campground, gulped down our latte and headed out for nearby Elliston.  We were alone at the well-known point, a precipice across a small Atlantic flow from a rocky island, upon which were flocks of graceful birds – AND UNGRACEFUL PUFFINS.  The three purposes of our long journey had been met!

After an hour of watching the puffins and hoping they would fly over to our side of the small strait, we were joined by a busload of birders from the States, all sporting binoculars and cameras.   Among things we learned from their local tour guide was that we were sitting too close to the edge, thereby scaring away the puffins.  We also learned that the cliff upon which we perched was somewhat fragile, potentially dangerous.  We immediately moved back and became advisers to the dozens of people who joined our throng over the next hour.

Coming by for a visit

Coming by for a visit 

While all of us looked eastward at the island ahead of us awaiting the first puffin to land on our side, Gail, a member of our Fantasy RV Tours caravan, who, with husband Richard, is a professional photographer, was looking at the low hills to the south, taking pictures of the puffins 20 feet away.  We sauntered over and Monique “clacked” to get them to move in closer.  One came within six feet of us, posing for numerous pin-up shots.

Another cogent suggestion by the tour guides:  Go to Spillar’s Cove for a spectacular view.

A dramatic spire rises from the waters of Spillar's Cove

A dramatic spire rises from the waters of Spillar’s Cove

No  easy trip, but with our four-wheel drive GMC truck we were able to drive within 150 feet of water’s edge.  Awesome! Jagged rocks with a thin finger of granite rising from the aqua ocean below, white-topped waves crashing over rocks at the base.  Surrounded by formations with character … and more seabirds, including puffins.

We hiked and photographed.  And by this time, those same birders, who had hiked the 100 yards from their bus, had shown up and were seated in the grass enjoying their lunches with one of the most spectacular views imaginable.  Again, let’s move on.

In Bonavista, we toured The Matthew Legacy, a re-created 17th Century frigate, housed in a mammoth building while in dry-dock.  Along with the boat was the history of Captain/Explorer John Cabot, with docents

The St. Matthew Legacy in Dry Dock

The St. Matthew Legacy in Dry Dock

available to point out important bits of history and answer our many questions.

Millennia of wave action has created The Dungeon

Millennia of wave action has created The Dungeon

Dungeon Provincial Park was a sort of afterthought, but Wow, what a view!  Below the viewing area was a large circular abyss carved into the solid rock grassland through two passageways formed by the pounding waves of millennia.  It was a garnish for a delicious meal of sightseeing.

Twenty-one campgrounds in 48 days.  This was just one stop along the way.  With the vast number of places we ventured, it can be hard to separate and catalogue each in our minds, but the Elliston/Bonavista stop, like Twillingate, stands out.  I’ll mention a few more in the next blog.

I rarely take notes, except for specific facts that I care to remember, so how do we remember all this?   I often tell people who surmise that I’m a professional photographer that I take photographs for the memories.  Whether you have a point-and-shoot camera, a cellphone, I-pad, or an interchangeable-lens single-lens-reflex camera, the quality is always good enough to record for your lifetime memories of the places you’ve been.

When Monique and I reach the time when we no longer have the ability to travel  North America, we’ll be able to revisit the wonderful places we’ve been by looking at the photos.  And for now, we’re glad to have you along with us.

Coming in for a graceful landing

Coming in for a graceful landing

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Our Alaska Trip Part II Crossing into Canada

This entry is part 2 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 10, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 21 Comments

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

Our caravan was ready for OUR GREAT ADVENTURE early this morning, and most of the dozen rigs got off in fine fashion.  Oh, our tailgunner awoke one couple telling them that one of the tires on their SUV toad was flat, but that was a minor inconvenience since we were in town rather than on the open road.

All went smoothly from there as we traveled scenic Washington roads for 135 miles when we arrived at the Canadian border crossing.   Several of the members were told to dispose of the onions that they declared, and one couple was asked to pull into a separate parking area and report to the officers inside the building.  That couple was us.

Entering the Customs Station Crossing into Canada from Washington State

Entering the Customs Station Crossing into Canada from Washington State

We think the brief, serious interrogation was triggered by our admission of having bear spray aboard, [a large canister is okay; a small canister is not] a natural defense for veteran hikers, but we answered their questions, stood by while they did a computer background check and then we were on the road again to reach our first Canadian campground.  Just in time for the evening social and update on the plans for Friday.

Let’s back up a few miles.  About 16 miles north of last night’s campground at the Town of Soap Lake is the immense, deep canyon called Dry Falls, featuring “plunge holes.”  I think every member of our crew stopped there for a few moments to appreciate the power of geological forces.

A Plunge Hole Below Dry Falls Visitors Center, Washington

A Plunge Hole Below Dry Falls Visitors Center, Washington

Our route then took us to the Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River.  We have been to several dams in our travels, and although this one was more interesting than most, it’s not a “wonder of the world” that stops most people in their tracks.  It did us, but then it got better.

And this is where the two types of travelers separate.  Many are destination-seekers, with planned stops.  The rest of us travel to enjoy the scenery along the way, particularly unexpected discoveries like this.

These may be cherished memories or forgotten until you look at photos or videos years later, but if you’re not ready to trade time for destination, you won’t have these moments in your memory bank.  Across the United States and Canada, there are treasurers hiding around every turn and down every side road.

Once we crossed the surging Columbia and entered the information plaza, we discovered a labyrinth, a place for silent contemplation and appreciation of the flowers and flowing water.  No big deal, but for us, it is an enrichment of life.  You might want to keep your eyes and, more importantly, your mind open to stop at unheralded spots along the road.

Monique Walking the Labyrinth by Chief Joseph Dam

Monique Walking the Labyrinth by Chief Joseph Dam

It’s Thursday afternoon, the sun is shining through menacing clouds.  We look for the blue.

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Comments

21 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part II Crossing into Canada”

▪.  bbwolf on June 10th, 2010 10:05 pm   
Barry & Monique, just wanted to let you know that my co-pilot and I are following your posts with interest. Please don’t leave anything out, as you are helping a lot of us decide on making this trip ourselves one day soon. Thanks for posting your travel!

▪.  Jerry Criswell on June 11th, 2010 12:43 pm  
Wish you had told us what a “plunge hole” is.
JC

▪.  susan on June 11th, 2010 4:46 pm  
Barry and Monique…we find you travels very interesting…please keep posting, like bbwolf we are deciding whether or not to make the trip one day…as of now we are leaning toward it, and love reading about your travels..
Sue

▪.  G Finley on June 11th, 2010 5:02 pm  
Tell us more about this plunge hole. What are they and why did they happen? Thanks in advance for the posting. Sure is interesting. We have driven part of your trip in a car. Beautiful country !!!!.

▪.  John Ahrens on June 11th, 2010 5:55 pm  
This link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_Falls, briefly speaks to the formation of the Dry Falls. It doesn’t mention plunge holes specifically, but the plunge holes are the area at the bottom of a falls where the falling water leaves a deep hole. Incidentally, at the height of the flood, the surface of the river probably varied a few inches as it went over that falls.

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on June 11th, 2010 5:09 pm. 
Your Canadian crossing was better than ours. A guy with a chip on his shoulder made me turn my pockets inside-out, dumped my pill containers out on a dirty table, while his team rummaged around our travel trailer trying to prove that we were lying when we said that we had no booze, guns, tobacco, vegetables, etc. They found nothing. Didn’t make us feel too welcome to their country.

▪.  Jan on June 11th, 2010 7:06 pm  
Barry and Monique – Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. We’d love to make the trip to Alaska someday. We also travel with enjoying all the side adventures on the way. Wondering what kind of orchard or field we are passing, what is that smoke stack in the distance, where does that road in the middle of nowhere lead, what is a plunge hole (thank you John), walking a labyrinth someone took the time to build, etc. Not that we always have time to investigate each thing, but traveling with the explorers’ curiosity really opens the trip to memories, meeting the local people and an education for a lifetime and underlines the reason most of us crisscross North America in our RV’s. It’s like Lewis and Clark’s push to the ocean, the miner’s quest for gold; it must be in our blood? Looking forward to your next trip itinerary entry.
PS
Chief Joseph Dam is the second largest hydropower-producing dam in the United States.

▪.  Dick and Cindy on June 11th, 2010 7:12 pm  
We went a year ago. At our border crossing they got all the apples we had just stocked up on. They were offended and said “We have apples in Canada, ya know.” Will enjoy comparing experiences. Hope you get to Laird Hot Springs. We enjoyed that a lot – both directions.

▪.  Chris Clarke on June 11th, 2010 8:10 pm  
Regarding the border crossing incidents, just a few comments: When we head south and cross into the US we basically have taken to having nothing in our refrigerator, no fresh fruit, nor vegetables. This is because of having had it all confiscated one time or another by the US border officials on previous trips. So don’t feel too bad about losing a few apples and yes, we do grow them up here. We get the same line fed to us going south.
Our first stop on the US side is usually at a supermarket to stock up the fridge and the pantry. (Oh, and yes, I have had my 5th wheel turned inside out because the agricultural inspector wanted to look into “all of the hiding places” that he knew us RVers use to stash our contraband oranges, steaks and milk.
The bear spray is sort of a moot point. I carry mine all the time when I fish or hike in the mountains and I think that our border officials should cut some slack on that one in spite of the fact that it has become a weapon of choice in assaults and muggings. (We don’t carry firearms up here – we don’t seem to need them, or at least the risk of needing them is pretty low.)
Sorry if you ran into one of the more uncouth border officials – there are many good ones as there are heading south. Too bad some of these folks make our crossing experiences less than fun in either direction.
  Perhaps some of our folks are smarting over the heavy criticism that we Canadians have been getting regarding border security from some of your prominent politicians in spite of the fact that the 9/11 bad guys did not come through our country. Some of the critics have been down right rude. We are grateful for the fact that most of the 350 million of y’all are damn fine people.
I hope that you don’t let some boorish behavior spoil what should be a great adventure for you. Sometimes I guess that some people just get out on the wrong side of the bed. There are just too many beautiful places to see and experiences for you to have on either side of the 49th to allow a less than smooth crossing experience cause to sour.
Happy trails!
 [We immediately put the delay behind us.  Another part of the adventure.]

▪.  Frank Howard on June 11th, 2010 9:01 pm  
Being stopped by border officials could also simply be a random inspection, designed to catch violators who are aware of what characteristics the officials
are looking for. The officials may be inspecting, say, every 20th visitor who comes through.

▪.  Sucie on June 11th, 2010 9:21 pm  
Mr. Clark,
You mentioned 9-11, as a proud yet humble American I want to take this moment and say Thank-you to the Canadian people for assisting the many people that landed that fateful day in Nova Scotia during that tragic time in our history. May the Canadian people be blessed many times over.

▪.  Shelia on June 11th, 2010 11:00 pm  
I would love to go to AK but my hubby has a fear of taking our 40ft motorhome across the border into Canada and than into AK/USA. Any motorhomes of great length taking the trip up north with you? Let me know how all fare on the travel across the roads. I hate to have only planned stops, I’m the type that wants to find the natural native places along the route. Those surprises are the ones you will remember. Have fun!

▪.  Chip on June 12th, 2010 7:06 am  
Barry and Monique – I just wonder how everyone in the caravan is keeping in contact on the road. Are you using the FRS radios with some kind of net control. Are there any Ham radio Operators among the caravan? 
BTW, what is the cost of diesel fuel in Canada?
have a great trip and keep the details coming – its awesome! 

[We communicate with each other via CB radio — more on all of this later]

▪.  Kay on June 12th, 2010 9:51 am  
A trip to Alaska that was to have started in late May has unavoidably been delayed. How late into July can we leave and still have enough time to make the trip in a somewhat leisurely way? How late in September can we return and not have to worry about now in the Rockies as we make our way East??

▪.  Thomas Becher on June 12th, 2010 10:00 am  
Too much hassle going across the border. I thought with NAFDA and being almost brother-sister things would be smoother. They treat you like a criminal. Too many things to see in the states to bother with Canada. Even with the exchange rate they rip you off, if you don’t have any Canadian money. No thanks. If I feel the need to go to Alaska, I’ll fly and then rent a camper.

▪.  Colleen on June 12th, 2010 12:58 pm  
This is an answer for Kay who wonders how late in July she can head north and how late in Sept. to return. I’ve driven out as late as Dec. 10 (leaving Anchorage), so it can be done. My parents were snowbirds for years and they made sure they were on the road by Sept. 10. Summers in Alaska are short and cool, but it can get downright hot in the interior (Fairbanks). June is the nicest month weather-wise, by mid-July the rains begin. By the third week in August there is often mild frost at night, even in Anchorage.
If you are looking for fish and going up late in the summer, you might try for Silver Salmon on the beach in Seward toward the end of August.
In ‘72, my first trip to Alaska, there were 1,500 miles of gravel roads. After 30 years living there and many trips driving in and out, the road is all paved now. 
And a note for Sheila, there are places where the roads are not as wide as you find in the lower 48, especially in the Yukon, so meeting an 18 wheeler on a curve or bridge can be a bit unnerving at times, you can certainly time those events by adjusting your speed. The last time I drove out was in a Class A 32ft Airstream. I live in the lower 48 now that I have retired. 
I’ve never gone with a caravan, preferring to make my own schedule, but for some people the peace of mind of “safety in numbers” thing should be worthwhile.
See ya down the road.

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on June 12th, 2010 4:29 pm  
To answer the question about how late to go to Alaska, we went last year in August to get away from the crowds. Turns out August is the rainy month and we had rain every day. By late August, many of the campgrounds are almost deserted. We didn’t see hardly anyone heading north on our return trip. Many of the campgrounds said they were closed after September 1. The owners were headed for Florida, California or Arizona. Our next trip will be in June.

▪.  tom connor on June 13th, 2010 10:50 pm  
hi, Tom Becher.  Looks like you have had a bad experience, I hear all kinds of stories of the treatment Canadians get from USA border guards, then I read about there attitude toward the border guard what one gives expect to receive.
 My trailer is permanently in Washington State, so we go there quite often.  Never have I ever felt not wanted, but always welcomed.
There is nothing we can bring across the border — we always have to stock up our larder in Seattle and likewise coming north we know the rules and stick by them.
If you believe all the stories you hear you would eat all you see.
Camping is supposed to be a fun thing not conferential.
Enjoy life; it’s short.  [Note:  We never had a bad experience on this entire trip.  Missing out on Western Canada is missing out on the most beautiful part of the trip.]



▪.  BJ Moffett on June 22nd, 2010 10:47 am  
What can you take in to Canada in the line of food? We are thinking of going in 2013. Have a 35ft. 5th wheel

▪.  Rebecca on June 22nd, 2010 10:28 pm  
Have been wading through the customs site searching for what we can and can’t bring when crossing into Canada. Didn’t find much that was helpful. This site was exactly what I was looking for. Although we have taken our RV into Canada, it has been a while and I’m pretty sure there had been some changes. I guess the best bet is to leave the fresh stuff behind and get it after we cross. That’s fine. I am assuming that canned & frozen goods are okay. 
We have traveled in and out of Canada for 40 years and have never been treated badly by the border agents or anyone else except one surly waitress in Niagara Falls years ago that we still laugh about. 
Any other tips for travel into Quebec would be welcome. Thanks!

Lenore Slater on June 29th, 2010 10:23 am  
It saddens me to hear such disparaging remarks about Canadians. I was taught here in Canada that it is prejudice to paint a whole nation with one paintbrush because of the actions of one person. Whatever happened to the concept of ‘Hands across the Border?” We should remember this was one large land and the borders were put in much later, separating whole families, my family being one of them. My genealogical study of my family shows that people crossed back and forth many times, and my family is your family. I would like to see more Americans speaking up for their neighbours and a few thank you’s would not go amiss! The Canadians do not hesitate to jump in and help when the many disasters occur in America. The Canadians are probably the Americans’ best friend and it is a great puzzle that we do not hear a whole lot about that from the Americans. 
To the moderator of this site I ask, Did I wander onto the wrong site? Is this site intended for Americans only?  [Please don’t paint all the respondents to this site with the same paintbrush used by one person.]

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 XII Whitehorse, YT

This entry is part 13 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 26, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 23 Comments

This is the 12th in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory, is the big city, providing residents and visitors with all the food, hardware and souvenir shopping opportunities available in the more traditional areas of North America. It doesn’t offer the selection of items that we’re used to down below — and maybe seeing the limp parsley made us realize how spoiled we are, but what is there was enough to satisfy our needs.

Friday was for us caravan members a “free day,” meaning we could rest, tend to our RV needs, shop, play tourist or socialize as we wished.

 

The Yukon Between Whitehorse and Our RV Park

The Yukon Between Whitehorse and Our RV Park

Eddies & Undertows in Miles Canyon Have Taken the Lives of Many, According to Tlingit First Nation People We Met

Eddies & Undertows in Miles Canyon Have Taken the Lives of Many, According to Tlingit First Nation People We Met

Monique and I hiked a bit, chatted with the Yukon locals in museums and stores, learned about the danger of the Yukon River from local Tlingit [pronounced “Klingit”] First People, and bought food at reasonable prices. Here, as all through Canada, we have met only friendly, helpful people.

I again hesitate to show scenes from the area, since even the best photography can’t get across the splendor of the region. Mainly, I don’t want to make you think you’ve seen the Yukon Territory or any other scenic land just because you saw photos online or in a book. Many of the views range from incredibly beautiful to breathtaking. Since Miles Canyon carved out by the Yukon River is off the beaten path, I decided I would allow myself to drop in a few pictures of the scenery there.

A Tour Boat Crosses Under the Yukon River Suspension Bridge

A Tour Boat Crosses Under the Yukon River Suspension Bridge

Most interesting, you wouldn’t know if the photos were taken at noon, 3:30 a.m. or 11:00 p.m. That’s the phenomenon of being in “The Land of the Midnight Sun.” Last night as we hiked around and above the RV park at 10:45 p.m. we watched the sun setting behind layers of clouds.

I hope the readers of these articles are learning from those who have experienced the trip in the past and added their own observations in the Comments Section. I urge others to contribute comments to help those considering whether to embark on the trip alone, with one or two friends or with a group.  And if you have questions for the “experts,” as you have seen, you can get them answered by experienced travelers.

A few more random thoughts.  First, it was suggested that putting the miles-per-hour/kilometers-per hour numbers on my steering column wasn’t needed. While my eyes are good enough to read those little metric numbers on my speedometer, I have to take off my sunglasses to see them. It’s a case of whatever works.

Did I call the ride boring?  It isn’t … only, hundreds of miles on a fairly straight road with manicured open spaces on each side does get monotonous. We are able to stay alert looking for wildlife, admiring the beauty, watching out for gravel areas and bumps on the road, and every now and then having infrequent conversations with fellow caravan members via CB radio.  We enjoy the profusion of wildflowers – including fireweed, which is the Yukon provincial flower

I mentioned in an earlier article that XM radio was fading. We do get it loud and clear most of the time even now, but when I turn to Laugh USA, the clean comedy channel, it always seems to go out during the joke but comes back when the audience is roaring with laughter and applauding. Our OnStar telephone service is sporadic in the hinterlands.

Take the advice of the experts: Don’t go to the Yukon without a copy of Robert Service’s poems or at least seeing the animated films at The Exploration Place in Prince George, B.C.

Time to Don a Sleep Mask -- Sunset is After 11 p.m. at the Start of Summer

Time to Don a Sleep Mask — Sunset is After 11 p.m. at the Start of Summer

Not a day has gone by when we weren’t glad that we made our decision to take this trip.

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

Comments

23 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XII Whitehorse, YT”

▪.  Bob West on June 26th, 2010 10:08 am  
Enjoy your reflections. Did you stay at Hi Country in Whitehorse or I should say on the edge? Always interested in observations about the places to stay and dine as well as scenery. As you point out the scenery can be found in books to some degree but nothing like a personal reflection from someone standing there and taking a picture and then returning to the comfort of their RV in preparation for the next adventure. From here you will find some real frost heaves and I am sure your guides will tell you slow and easy. I even got out of the vehicle a few times to plot my course through on the bigger ones. Save your Appetite for Fast Eddy’s in Tok. Good food and huge portions. Safe travels.

▪.  Robert Russell on June 26th, 2010 11:02 am  
Brings back memories. My dad was stationed in Whitehorse during WW2, we lived at “Station E” (Military) in ‘45-’47 timeframe. Thanks for pix.

▪.  John on June 26th, 2010 2:43 pm  
Absolutely amazing scenery. I have wanted to go camping in Alaska for a while now and this just make me want it more.
I think your photos do show the splendor of the area.
Thanks for sharing.

▪.  Don Thompson on June 26th, 2010 4:27 pm  
Have been reading your Blog as you go along. We are a little behind you. In Montana now and plan to go in to Calgary on 29 June and head up your way. We did travel this route in 2008 with another RVer, however this trip we are by ourselves. Looking forward to getting up there. Really enjoy your Blog. Thanks for sharing. 
Don..

▪.  Bill on June 26th, 2010 4:49 pm  
You don’t mention the insects much. I’ve heard that in the winter it is really cold and snowy and in the summer the mosquitoes eat you alive. How much of a problem has that been for you when you are outside?

  [We haven’t had any problem with mosquitos … yet!]

▪.  Bea Kay on June 26th, 2010 5:05 pm  
Our first trip to Alaska was in a 24′ Winnebago in 1974. We had 3 daughters with us-20, 17 & 14.
At that time all the roads in Yukon Terr. were gravel but we didn’t hit that until later.
We took the shakedown cruise of the Alaska Ferry Columbia up & at that time we got off at Haines as there was no road from Skagway to Whitehorse.
The road from Haines to Alaska was gravel & sort of elevated. I thought the cabinets were going to fall off the walls the road was so bad.

▪.  John on June 26th, 2010 6:08 pm  
Yes, there are mosquitos in the Wal-Mart area there since it is right beside the Yukon River. Whitehorse has a wonderful transportation museum, old interesting vehicles, story of the lady who graduated from college in NY and answered an ad in a newspaper for a pilot in California who wanted someone to share expenses for him to fly a plane to Alaska. It crashed not too far away and it is quite a story. An old movie was made of it after she returned and wrote a book. They did not die in the crash but of course suffered some broken bones. Their survival until rescued is quite a story. We camped at the Wal-Mart parking lot right near the Honda dealer while they examined our tow. We had a ball visiting with the huge amount of campers on the Wal-Mart parking lot. I did not count the rigs but the parking lot was loaded with all types of RVs, motorhomes, travel trailer, 5th wheels, etc. We enjoyed the canyon area, too, but the most interesting was the museum. Also the Pizza there was superb. I believe it was a Boston Pizza outlet.

▪.  John on June 26th, 2010 6:18 pm  
On our trip in 2006 to Alaska, I only remember mosquitos at Munchin Lake area where we camped overnight (it was moist, misty area, and inside Artic Circle). In the Circle, they will try to eat you alive, but I bought my wife a pullover mosquito net while at the Cabellas in Mitchell, SD, that worked beautifully. Although, they were thick inside the Circle, I did not get one bite as a result of the trip. Nor did we get a bite in Whitehorse, although we saw a number of mosquitos, especially on the side of the parking lot closest to the Yukon River. We were in Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Seward, Eagle River, Homer, and Valdez and did not have a problem with the mosquitos where we parked.

▪.  Tisha on June 26th, 2010 6:22 pm  
We have been enjoying your postings for some time as my husband will be starting a tour of Alaska with Tracks to Adventure on June 30th. When I spoke with him today, I reminded him to check out your latest posting as this will be one of the stops on his tour.
Thanks for sharing … I feel as though I am there when I read your posts!

▪.  Bill Mann on June 26th, 2010 7:15 pm  
Do you use a shield to keep gravel from destroying your toad headlights and paint? What about gravel problems on your rig itself from either following vehicles or those passing or approaching you?

▪.  Lee Ensminger on June 26th, 2010 8:27 pm  
If you haven’t left the area yet, tour the paddlewheel riverboat and take a drive out to the airport. They have the world’s most interesting weathervane: A DC-3, mounted on a swivel and balanced so well it swings around and always points into the wind. Very cool. I can’t wait to go back there.

▪.  Garry Scott on June 27th, 2010 12:13 am  
Thanks very much for the blog so far, just fantastic, feels like I am almost there with you, keep on trucking, regards Garry Scott England UK

▪.  Ralph Delgado on June 27th, 2010 8:47 am  
Great blog; we’re planning on going next year. I saw that the caravan charge is over $7,000 per couple, even including campground fees and the occasional outing. It seems pricey. Do you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth?

  [Yes, we do.  We’re given info about what’s ahead, which cuts down on the stress of where to get diesel and what to see; we go on excursions, etc., that we wouldn’t have wanted to pay for but have enjoyed; we travel with others but are by ourselves 90% of the awake time; we are fortunate to be with people whose company we enjoy.  It ain’t cheap, but, yes, we feel we are getting our money’s worth.]

▪.  Gary Altig on June 27th, 2010 10:45 am  
I’m curious as to activities; events; and venue aspects for limited walking
people? Would Electric or Gas carts be necessary or even practical?/ga  

[There is one member of our group who uses an electric cart.  He misses out on a few of the sights but not many.  Not always easy, but he seems to make the best of it.]

▪.  Merrily on June 27th, 2010 11:54 am  
My dad was working on the AlCan during the ‘war” as a civilian in ‘43. He, too, was stationed at military camp ‘E’ in Whitehorse just near your campsite. I have been up your way twice and will be returning. We went without a caravan! Great memories!!!
I want to get to Inuvik before there is a Walmart there!!

▪.  Merrily on June 27th, 2010 11:56 am  
I forgot to mention….I am REALLY enjoying your blog!
THANKS!

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on June 27th, 2010 3:35 pm  
Someone earlier mentioned staying at the Hi-Country. I whole-heartedly recommend it. Just down the road is the Pioneer. They are both rated “7″. The Pioneer is a parking lot. The Hi-Country is wooded and friendly. There are 7’s and then there are 7’s.

▪.  Old Gray on June 27th, 2010 5:58 pm  
I’d love to see more photos but I understand your concern about spoiling things for those folks who will follow you. However, many of us who are reading your blog will never get where you are going so don’t worry too much about it. If you have a great photo, publish it! 
I’m making do with Google Earth’s photos in Panoramio – and in Whitehorse, I’ve been walking the streets with Street View.
Many thanks for your dedication to publishing daily. I’ve tried that and it’s an enormous task.

▪.  Jeff Glazer on June 27th, 2010 9:37 pm  
Right on! We found Whitehorse to be an absolute jewel.
But you didn’t mention our favorite feature – restaurants. Whitehorse has some really good restaurants. Our favorite is the Klondike Restaurant right in town.

▪.  rswelborn on June 28th, 2010 9:13 am  
Our family RV’d Alaska in 2003. Your blog really evokes refreshing memories of our trip. Great job! Please go SLOW from here on; those frost heaves can be ENORMOUS in places. You are truly on an amazing adventure. The most beautiful scenery our family ever saw!

▪.  oregon coast cabin rentals on June 30th, 2010 7:58 am  
I am really enjoying your post and the stuff regarding to your trip. It would be great if you post some pictures too. Looking forward to see more such stuff.

▪.  Nancy Giammusso on July 1st, 2010 1:50 pm  
Loving your blog. Look forward to the same kind of trip when I retire in 29 months. Thank you for such great information, you are just making me more determined to take the trip to Alaska.

 

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 XXXII-A Some Final Thoughts

This entry is part 6 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

August 16, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 17 Comments

This is the first part of a two-part article, No. 32 in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

Until you actually get on the road and enter the Canadian Northwest and Alaska, you can’t appreciate the distances involved — or the grandeur.  We made this trip knowing there was a lot to see, but maybe just as important to us was to check “Alaska” off our list of states we’ve visited as RVers.  Boy, what an eye-opening experience!  It’s a long way up there with lots of rough driving, but we now know we have to return.

As I drove over the past two-and-a-half months, Monique jotted down a few thoughts to include in our articles.  Here are some that we haven’t mentioned or didn’t emphasize enough.

Taking Pictures — I wrote an article about photography for RV.net earlier this year called “Keeping a Visual Record of Your Travels.”  [http://blog.rv.net/2010/05/keeping-a-visual-record-of-your-travels/]  In it I asked, “Why take pictures?  Are you looking to keep memories alive?   Are you planning to give a talk to the Kiwanis Club when you get home?  Or is there a big bodacious dream of having your pictures published in a tabletop book or in magazines?  These are all good reasons to keep a camera with you and snap pictures.”

During our Alaskan trip, I took about 10,000 pictures, which I downloaded into my laptop.  Then I deleted about a third.  Then I looked again and deleted about a third of those.  The remainder is the collection we want to keep as memories of the adventure.

A year ago, I bought a good camera that uses interchangeable lenses, having been spoiled from my days of using my company’s camera before I retired.  A few weeks before this trip I “invested” in a real lens to capture what I expected to be exciting wildlife, scenery and cultural experiences.  It undoubtedly has been worth the cash outlay.

Last week we met what locals called the biggest black bear they had ever seen.

He's a monster

He’s a monster

We estimate he’s seven feet tall, and we found tree scrapings 8’4” off the ground.  This is not a fellow you want to get close to, but you also don’t want to miss the shot.  With a 300-power zoom, I stood 75 metres (we are in Canada) away and we now have a clear digital memory to look at when I’m too old to hitch up the ol’ Bigfoot trailer.

We still use our little camera, especially when the “big lens” monster is too much for a situation; however, Monique won’t let me forget that one of my favorite, most scenic shots of the two-months in Alaska was taken with that little camera.   Additionally, I took one shot with my cellphone camera so it would look very touristy.  Unfortunately, it also came out looking professional.

I need to mention one more important thing concerning photography.  An external hard-drive is not expensive.  It plugs into any USB port and allows you to copy files, including pictures, onto a hard drive to keep separate from your computer.  I backup everything twice onto external hard-drives: one for the trailer; the other to keep in our truck.  It does take resolve on my part to spend a few minutes copying everything, compensated by the peace of mind it brings.

Cash — Visa, MasterCard and cash are the most accepted forms of payment throughout British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.  Even many of the U.S.-based chains don’t take American Express and Discover Card.  Banks with ATM machines are easy to find and eager to dispense Canadian currency from your American account.

One disadvantage (or advantage) of relying on plastic in Western Canada is that the businesses don’t always have electricity, so when you find an ulu you just have to buy, maybe you’ll have to try to find it in the gift shop in the next village … that gives you extra time to think about your purchase. At cafes you might not have that option, so if eating is important to you, it’s a good idea to have cash available.  The exchange rate is close enough now that it’s not worth the time thinking about it.

In the past week we have stayed at two B.C. provincial parks that did not have a host/facilities operator.  We didn’t see anything about writing a check, so we ended up putting cash in the envelope – all Canadian $ except a $10 U.S.  Plus, $4-$5 for the “sani-dump” charge (in loonies and toonies)

When we arrived at outposts that put a higher than usual price tag on everything, I gladly paid the tab and told them “Thank you.”  After all, we were happy it was them living 200 miles away from everywhere and not us.  Having services available where and when you need them is worth a few extra dollars.

Music – Having music available is important to us, particularly on those 200-mile treks through the wilderness.  We have XM in our truck, giving us a great variety of music, news, comedy and talk programs.  However, as you get further north and the mountains tower higher and higher, the XM/Sirius satellite is left behind over the horizon.  There’s programming for 20 seconds and then lost signal for a minute, and it gets worse until there is no signal at all.

Local stations are sparse except in major cities, and even then music choices were not to our liking when we did get reception.  My preference is classical, which I never found on our trip, even on public radio, but we’re open to just about any music.  We mainly kept the radio off and didn’t want to play a recorded book that would distract us from the scenery.

If you want music, we suggest having your MP3 or I-Pod by your side, or if you have room for CDs, stock up for the duration.

Fishing – I haven’t had a chance to try out my new rod & reel; thus, I’m not the person to write about fishing.  I can say that our caravan group went out three times on charters, of which two were duds.  The other time they maxed out.

While in a First People community in B.C., we were nearby when we saw a well-appointed fisherman buying salmon from the local natives.  “I got a flat tire on my truck, broke my rod, got a cracked windshield and didn’t get a bite.  At least I can take something home,” he explained.

Scenes from a Hike In British Columbia

Scenes from a Hike In British Columbia

We’ll have more of these random thoughts when we have internet again.

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

Comments

17 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXXII-A Some Final Thoughts”

▪.  Lynne schlumpf on August 16th, 2010 10:19 pm  
We like to use debit cards instead of credit, and unfortunately the Canadian banks gouge you with a fee for using them. We experienced this in both the Yukon and B.C.

And there’s no XM or Sirius in Alaska, either.

▪.  GK on August 17th, 2010 7:34 am  
Lynne: when I use my debit card in the US, Europe or Asia, banks there gouge me with fees too. This isn’t unique to Canada, it’s pretty normal anywhere in the world.

▪.  GK on August 17th, 2010 7:35 am  
This has been a fantastic series. Very informative and very entertaining. Up until this, I didn’t really know what to expect going North, and this has piqued my interest. Thank you for having along on your adventure!

▪.  Bryan on August 17th, 2010 4:47 pm  
We like to use debit also but the US banks gouge you with a fee every time you use it. We have experienced it in almost every state in the USA.
We have enjoyed your blog on Alaska and our country. We Thank You for taking us along and being so informative.

▪.  Tom Smith on August 17th, 2010 4:48 pm  
Gouge…gouge….gouge…. Was what they did illegal? No it was the cost of doing business. We have become a society of whiners. 
If you don’t like the charges from banks…start your own
As pointed out in the article, when they came to a place that was expensive, they paid the bill, said thank you, and moved on.

▪.  Bill Amick on August 17th, 2010 4:56 pm  
I want to go too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

▪.  Dick Boak on August 17th, 2010 5:26 pm  
I too have enjoyed your blog very much, I have travelled extensively in BC as I am a resident and want to make one small clarification in this part and that concerns your comment about “Western Canada communities not always having electricity” I think you mean Far North-western communities, as I have yet to come across a BC or Alberta community without electricity, they may not take plastic but that is because of the expense to the business in small communities.
I think the best way to describe a Canadian experience is to say that you won’t notice a big difference from an American experience of which we have had many.
Cheers and many happy travels.

▪.  Lynda Begg on August 17th, 2010 6:13 pm  
Thank you for sharing your trip experience with the rest of us. As Canadians, we love to have you here, even if you are passing through. We, in turn, like to frequent your country in the fall and winter to get away from rain (here on the Coast) where I live or snow (in the other parts of BC). It would be great to follow you on another trip, so keep us in mind as you travel! Good health and safe driving.

▪.  Lynne Schlumpf on August 17th, 2010 6:27 pm  
@GK: We live in Alaska, and I’ve never seen these fees here, but when we travel across the border, we start getting charged for them.
@TomSmith: Not whining. Just letting people know they might see some extra fees if they use a debit card in Canada. Illegal? I have no idea.

▪.  Tom Smythe on August 18th, 2010 7:55 am  
We enjoyed reliving our experience last year, as well. Also, the part where you said you would be going back is exactly how we feel  
Fees from the banks has been a sticky issue with me for a VERY long time. If you think about it, ATM’s save banks money since you’re not talking to a teller and the machines are available 24 hours a day (some locations). Yes, the machines cost $. But, it’s the price of remaining competitive. Even so, they find it in their hearts to charge us extra to use them. Still, there are still a few banks that don’t gouge their customers. 
Likewise, spending US dollars via credit card in a foreign country should be a plus for the banks since they make money on the exchange. Still, they find a way to charge us again – for the ’service’. Cost of doing business? Maybe. From our experience, we’ll go elsewhere to do money exchanges (since our BoA exchange carried a pretty steep fee for the service) and carry local cash whenever possible. It requires planning ahead – something we’ve gotten better at.  
All-in-all, Alaska was the best trip we’ve ever taken. We loved every minute of it!
tom

▪.  William Robinson, Jr. on August 18th, 2010 9:02 am  
How does one, in these days, carry 5K in cash. I now worry when I carry more than a hundred bucks !! I’m serious, how do you do it? There are RV fires, thieves, and general paranoia on my part. Robbie

▪.  Duane Mattocks on August 18th, 2010 9:27 am  
I have enjoyed your experience. My wife and I made a similar trip in 2004. We did not go with a caravan, we soloed. It was a trip of a lifetime. I too had recently retired and spent 2 years planning our trip. We pulled a 19′ travel trailer with a 2002 F250 Truck. We had only small problems, a tire to replace, and a valve handle that broke on our black tank. Helpful people along the way helped us when needed. I would like to go back again; however, doubt if that will happen as each year we get older our strength decreases. I had a small digital camera, but have several beautiful photos, I found that taking pictures of wildlife with this camera was a waste of time as only you can tell where the animal is in the photo. We were gone for 3 months with a whole month in Alaska, the rest was in Canada and the lower 48. We live in PA with family scattered in Wisconsin, Kansas, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

▪.  Suzanne McWhirter on August 19th, 2010 3:54 pm  
What about bringing your dog with you on a trip like this? Would it be a problem?