BUSY PLACES: NATURAL SPACES – PART I

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the seriesFavorite Places

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

To keep my often too-long RV.net blogs a bit shorter, I posted an excerpt of this article on that site:  this is the full article, subdivided into two parts.  Part I is about favorite cities; Part II is a list of all National Parks from the most visited to Lake Clark in Alaska at the bottom of the ratings – a shame since it is absolutely stunning in the Alaskan sunshine.  I wrote an article a year ago about the destinations chosen by RV.net readers.  Since it vanished somewhere between Point A and Point B, I’ve republished it.  I assure you, I’m not trying to sell anything (unless you’re interested in one or more of my photos of North America).

BUSY PLACES:  Enough pregame chatter, time to get to the good stuff.  I recently came across two “favorite lists” that I found interesting.  The first lists the “Travelers’ Choice 2013” of favorite cities to visit published by Tripadvisor.  I’m not sure how the “travelers” made their selections, but the number of attractions in the selected areas probably influences it.  For instance, New York, the #1 choice, has dozens of museums, historic sites, entertainment, etc.

So now, the Top 10 American cities, from the Big Apple to the Big Easy:  After New York in first place comes San Francisco, then Chicago, Las Vegas and Orlando finish out the first five.

The sights and sounds of Chinatown in San Francisco make visiting a unique experience.

The sights and sounds of Chinatown in San Francisco make visiting a unique experience.

My comments:  San Francisco is a beautiful, fun town, and if you visit Chicago, we strongly recommend taking the American Institute of Architects boat tour along the Chicago River.  I

"The Bean" at left is the most interesting feature of Millennium Park in Chicago

“The Bean” at left is the most interesting feature of Millennium Park in Chicago

got a whole new favorable impression of the city.  Some people avoid Las Vegas thinking it’s SinCity, but it’s so much more than gambling and risqué shows.  There’s entertainment galore and lots of interesting desert.  Need I comment on Orlando – home of numerous family-oriented attractions?

The only thing I can say about Washington, D.C., No 6 on the list, is that you can’t stay long enough to see it all – a week minimum – and we started out with the Gray Line tour “D.C. After Dark.”  The history in Boston is obviously legendary (maybe “legendary” is the wrong word since the courage of our founding fathers is factual).  It’s mostly what Boston is all about … plus the Boston Pops Orchestra.  Los Angeles is a metropolis that never ends, with museums, entertainment, 20th Century history, family amusement parks … whatever you’re looking for, it’s probably there.  No. 9 is Honolulu.  I’m not sure why, except that the airport is the jumping off point for much of the South Pacific islands.

And No. 10 – New Orleans.  I’m a bit prejudiced about this one – it’s my hometown.  Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, Creole food and nearby Cajun Country are the traditional main attractions, but I strong recommend the incredible World War II Museum.  Just watching the Tom Hanks-narrated video is worth the price of admission.

And now for the final 15 cities to visit in the U.S.:

11. Seattle, Washington

12. Miami, Florida

13. Sedona, Arizona

14. Savannah, Georgia

15. Charleston, South Carolina

16. Napa (Wine Country), California

17. San Antonio, Texas

18. Lahaina, Hawaii

19. Portland, Oregon

20. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

21. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

22. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

23. Palm Springs, California

24. Naples, Florida

25. Houston, Texas

We rarely assign major cities as destinations, but we do have favorites.  Monique puts

The quaintness of Savannah, Georgia, lies in its preservation of its glorious history.

The quaintness of Savannah, Georgia, lies in its preservation of its glorious history.

Charleston or Savannah at the top of her list.  I still have to say I really appreciate the unique culture of New Orleans … and both of us like Washington, D.C., not only for the attractions, but for the cleanliness and grandeur.  My favorite town is Mountain View, Arkansas (population:  less than 3,800 and not on the list), where the folk music never stops.

I doubt if you’ll get bored in any of them … so you can join us as being “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

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 XVI Getting To Know Alaska

This entry is part 17 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 3, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 33 Comments

This is the 16th in a continuing series about our trip to Alaska

Maybe after today’s article, I can stop talking about the roads.  After what is known as the worse stretch of roads going to Alaska, The Top of the World Highway [see PART XV] we have arrived in Fairbanks, a fairly typical U.S. city of 33,000 and with 70,000 in the “interior” or non-coastal expanses of the state.

All the major retailers are here, and for us, we see a chance for relaxation in the days ahead – but not yet.  After nine hours of playing tourist today and another full day tomorrow, we’re on our own for two days before departing.

Statistics about the number of people who brave the harsh winters here probably aren’t important to you as an Alaskan traveler or a prospective one, and besides that, we hear lots of statistics that change depending on the teller or brochure.  Alaska, with its 1.2 persons per square mile, also has 3,000 rivers (or maybe 4,000), many of which we have already crossed in our two days in the state.  I’m even more impressed with the estimate of 3 million lakes.  Where does that 1.2 person stand?  Probably in water.

4 Rivers of Alaska

Here are some other interesting observations.  Monique and I think that at this time of year there are at least three times as many RVs on the highways as cars.  The wildflowers along the Richardson and other highways make the long stretches of roadway enjoyable.  The state flower, the forget-me-not, competes with fireweed and other colorful wildflowers for attention all along the way.

We also believe that here are 2.4 gift shops per tourist here with no sign of any having trouble staying in business for four months a year.   We encountered several of them in one of the most orchestrated tours we’ve seen since Disneyland.  The Binkley family has put a day or more of historic and profitable information in front of us, from the Riverboat Discovery III ride, which passes a world-renowned sled-dog training facility, gives very interesting information about the river and its history, and then stops at the replica of a Chena-Athabascan Indian village.  Definitely a place to see while in Alaska.

In the Athabascan Indian Village, Panning for Gold & Watching Campion Sled Dogs

In the Athabascan Indian Village, Panning for Gold & Watching Campion Sled Dogs

As an added memory, we met Dave Monson, who runs the training facility and husband of the late Susan Butcher.  Susan was the first woman to win the prestigious Iditarod sled-dog race in 1986 and went on to repeat the feat in 1987, ’88 and ’90.  Hence the saying, “Alaska, where men or men and women win the Iditarod.”  And on our way back to the dock, Mary Binkley, who fashioned all these events, came out into her yard and waved as the riverboat passed.

After lunch we took the gold mine tour and then all 300 people aboard the tram de-boarded and panned for gold.  Each participant found gold in his or her pan – real gold from real panning.  Our cache was appraised on the spot for $52, not exactly the mother lode, but gratifying.

Oh, and you may have heard that you don’t have to worry about where to stay at night … you can just stop on the side of the road for the night.  We haven’t really seen RVs doing

Three and a half hours of night ... but can it be night when it's not dark?

Three and a half hours of night … but can it be night when it’s not dark?

that, but, of course, most of our driving has been from 9 to 5.  However, we have seen “No Camping” signs at all the large pullouts.  It could work out to sleep in roadside pullouts during the day and travel at night.   Since there is no real night, you won’t miss any sights, but the museums and attractions will be closed.  There are no RV spaces available in our campground in Fairbanks now.

If you feel confident enough to drive to Alaska on your old tires, you can take advantage of no sales tax, but that’s true in Oregon and Montana, also.

It rained today, which is a very unusual occurrence since Fairbanks averages about 11 inches of precipitation a year, almost qualifying it as desert.  Our tour bus driver told us that going outside when the temperature gets down to minus-40 is akin to getting hit by a baseball bat.  We don’t want to personally verify that.

Smoke from forest fires that can burn in the buried vegetation for 25 years can be a

A spruce burl railing that caught our attention.

A spruce burl railing that caught our attention.

problem.   That smoke comes from Siberia as well as Alaska.  One more road alert:  the dreaded frost heaves, dips and humps in the pavement or gravel, can sometimes be expected when you see “drunken” or leaning spruce trees on the side of the road.  Growth of the trees is stunted by permafrost.  They can’t get a strong footing, so they lean.  This isn’t foolproof, just another indication that there may be problems coming up on you quickly.

While the lion maybe king of the jungle, the “doyon” or chief of animals in Alaska is the wolverine.  Truly a nasty beast.

Now for a few more pictures from the past two days.  There is so much to see that the sprinkling of photos I’ve included in this and past articles doesn’t even come close to telling the story.  I just hope it whets your appetite enough to brave the Top of the World Highway and visit the Last Frontier.

Caribou Land collage - 8170

 

The Famous Alaskan Oil Pipeline at Fairbanks -- A Few Feet of the 800-Mile Project

The Famous Alaskan Oil Pipeline at Fairbanks — A Few Feet of the 800-Mile Project

The afternoon rain has turned into a very rare thunderstorm.  We are celebrating the dim light outside, and maybe it will clear the air for when we reach Denali in a few days.

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

Comments

15 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XVI Getting To Know Alaska”

▪.  Wayne Cunningham on July 4th, 2010 9:24 am  
Last year we made that trip with our Class C with another friend and their little travel trailer.
Having come from southwest Florida we spent 10 weeks in Alaska.
We are enjoying every post about your trip, comparing notes and laughing as we recall the same things. We drove about 22,000 miles and were gone 6 months.
The trip of a lifetime.
Stay safe and there are three places we suggest for eating experiences.
Itchiban in Fairbanks
The brewery in Fox (can’t recall the name) but it is a very small town. Probably the best meal in all of the 6 months gone.
The Fresh Catch Cafe in Homer.
When they say fresh they mean it. I watched the fisherman bring in the fish and scallops right off the boat and into the kitchen.

▪.  ft-rver on July 4th, 2010 10:11 am  
What happened to entry # 15? Yes, we are keeping up with you with great interest and enjoy the blogs very much. I am keeping a full pdf library of your Alaska trek. Thank you.

▪.  bob west on July 4th, 2010 12:24 pm  
Yes I too am reading and wanted to hear your take on the TOW Highway as you seem quite sensible. I chickened out last year and didn’t go to Chicken. The road around Destruction Bay was no treat but I think better than the TOW.

▪.  Don & Irene Ritchey on July 4th, 2010 5:17 pm  
Yes please post #15 for us either you were to disgusted with the road conditions “over the top” or ???

▪.  Jim & Glenna Penny on July 4th, 2010 5:21 pm  
We missed XV as well ! Look forward to your installment daily. Thank you 
!

▪.  Brian Morris on July 4th, 2010 5:33 pm  
Thought for a minute I had missed your post XV but it appears many others did also. Looking forward to saving and reading it along with all of the others. Brian

▪.  Norm Bakemann on July 4th, 2010 5:49 pm  
So how long should it take to drive our 40ft Motorhome with tow car from Whitehorse to Tok , be there in a week

▪.  Jane on July 4th, 2010 6:00 pm  
I also missed your XV post…went to blog.rv.net/author/barry-zander but it was not on there…Can you re-post it? I also look so forward to your adventures and hate to miss XV….sounds like that might have been rather exciting…

▪.  Old Gray on July 4th, 2010 7:18 pm  
I’m also hoping to find out about Chicken: Blog post XV! Loved XVI. Great writing, great pictures.

▪.  macsly on July 4th, 2010 11:50 pm  
I’m a new RVer who lives in Tok. It is 392 miles and in the car we make it easily in a day. Most of the road is pretty good except from the border to here. The Top of the World would take you several more days, first to Dawson then down to Tok. We are headed down the road in September for the first time in 36 years. I expect some changes!

▪.  macsly on July 4th, 2010 11:50 pm  
That is 392 miles from Whitehorse to Tok. And I wish that Barry and Monique had stayed here for our July 4 celebration.

▪.  Garry Scott on July 5th, 2010 1:43 am  
Keep it up, fascinating reading, from Garry scott England UK

▪.  Dick and Cindy on July 5th, 2010 3:58 am  
We were in Valdez last year on the 4th of July. The town put on a free hotdog lunch and everyone was invited, even we visitors. Then later, before the fireworks, they provided, free, a giant fire and s’mores. Then some fantastic fireworks. Nestled down there at the foot of the mountains, just off the ocean, it was quite a sight. Some friends we met there took pictures of the fireworks and I was surprised you could see the display since it was still daylight! Wonderful memory.

▪.  Chris Clarke on July 5th, 2010 10:34 am  
Hi Folks, I’m really enjoying your driving diary and am happy to say that I found part XV. It was fascinating. Here’s a suggestion, open up Google Earth and you can “drive” along the stretches of “road” that you adventurous sorts are following. There are photos taken along the way just like in the cities and some other picturesque one taken by others who have travelled it before. However, the pictures that Barry & Monique have included are great, diverse, and really add to the experience.
Thanks for all that you have given us so far.
Chris

▪.  Margie on July 5th, 2010 11:51 am  
Hi Barry and Monique,
I live in Anchorage and have been enjoying your posts about your trip up to Alaska, especially since I bought my first RV a couple of months ago, became a full-timer, and will be heading out later in the summer for a two year trip around N. America. I just realized today after reading his latest email that we have a mutual friend in Sam C. How ’bout that?
When do you guys get down here to Anchorage? It would be great to catch up. I’d love to see my first RV Caravan! Please feel free to email directly.
Cheers,
Margie

▪.  Jerry X Shea on July 5th, 2010 12:10 pm  
Also want to see XV – Make sure you go to Pioneer Park and go in the -40 degree room. You only go in for about 4-5 minutes, but you sure get what it is like to be in really cold weather. Also to the Air Museum – it will surprise you what they have in there. Keep posting.
Jerry X

Our Alaska Trip Part XXIV Before & After

This entry is part 26 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

July 21, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 4 Comments

This is the 24th in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

Pat Sajak often announces the category “Before & After” on “Wheel of Fortune,” a puzzle where two expressions overlap.  I decided “Deadliest Catch 22” would fit in that puzzle, with “Deadliest Catch” referring to the TV show about the hardships crabbing in Alaska and “Catch 22” describing a good-bad situation.

Our trip through western Canada and into Alaska has been absolutely spectacular from the standpoint of scenery, wildlife and opportunities to learn about the rich cultures of this vast, somewhat forbidding land.  Since you’re reading these blogs, you probably have either been here or you want to take the trip.  We hope all you “want-tos” are able to get here – it’s an adventure of a lifetime.

The native tribes and clans of Alaska apparently had a very pleasant lifestyle for up to 6,000 years.  Then along came the Russians, who settled in the territory for fishing and trapping.  They enslaved natives and decimated the population with disease.  As bad as that was, their main impact was on coastal areas and less in the interior.

Tribal logo represents the traditional animals, fish and birds that are significant in sustaining life in Seldovia

Tribal logo represents the traditional animals, fish and birds that are significant in sustaining life in Seldovia

Then came the gold rush and discovery of coal and other valuable minerals, which caused a cataclysmic change.  Whether all that was good or bad is in the eye of the beholder, but as Walter Cronkite used to say, “That’s the way it is.”

CATCH 22 – The Alaska we, as tourists, have seen over the past five weeks has been the tourism segment of the economy, now the state’s second biggest industry.  Our caravan is included in the 1,100,000 tourists who arrive here every year, and the number is said to be growing.  [http://www.questconnect.org/ak_alaska.htm]

People like Christopher McCandless [whose story is told in the book and movie “Into the Wild”] and other survivalists may absolutely loathe this gift-shop, museum and charter boat economy, but in its defense, so many people from around the world would never get a chance to be among the splendor we have seen.

Alaska would be a wilderness inhabited by the natives, but their lives would still be disrupted by the major industries, beginning with oil transportation and refining, and including fishing, forestry and fur-trapping.  As the “questconnect” website states, “All sectors of Alaska’s economy are natural resource-based,” which does include tourism.

Tuesday Monique and I were in one of the few retail outlets without a gift shop or a moose head on the wall – McDonald’s in Homer – where we met a local, who has been in Alaska Antlers - 9693seven years since his wife took a job as a traveling nurse.  He wants to leave, he said, but she wants to stay.  He said he found Alaska no different from Florida, which thrives on its tourism economy by turning every natural area into a mecca for travelers.  Asked what he thought of tourism in Alaska, he acknowledged that it is a must for the survival of the towns, but he worries that there doesn’t seem to be any concern about the industry fading in years to come.  He doesn’t see any effort being made to look for additional avenues of revenue.

As a recreational vehicle enthusiast, you may hope to see Alaska on the wild side, but without gas stations, RV parks, restaurants and chain grocery stores, and all the other businesses that support the tourist trade, you would never be able to come up into this territory, where you can be wrapped in the grandeur.  Just fifty years ago there were very few roads, practically no repair shops or medical facilities.  Without the steady line of RVs plying the highways each summer, it would probably revert to wilderness, unseen by all but a few laborers.

 Catch 22.

Gerry Keeting of Palmer, Alaska, daughter of 1935 homesteaders under FDR's recovery plan, sits before a 115-year-old piano that was brought to Alaska filled with belongings of the relocating family. There was no road to Palmer in those days.

Gerry Keeting of Palmer, Alaska, daughter of 1935 homesteaders under FDR’s recovery plan, sits before a 115-year-old piano that was brought to Alaska filled with belongings of the relocating family. There was no road to Palmer in those days.

Another update on the Top of the World (Taylor) Highway from reader Dave Stoeffler:  “We are now in Dawson City.  The road was OK. We had to follow a pilot car for a few miles, but, people who came through today said there was no pilot car. There are only the normal repairs going on on both sides of the border. The Taylor Highway to Eagle is still closed, as far as I know.”

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

Comments

4 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXIV Before & After”

▪.  Roger Garner on July 21st, 2010 4:44 pm  
Barry, your ‘Catch 22′ comments condensed a great deal of insight into very few words. The dollars that tourism brings to AK allows most of the locals to be locals. The infrastructure supported by tourism creates everything from grocery stores to hospitals to schools to cell phone service, ad infinitum. Those smug and elite ‘locals’ who don’t have the presence of mind to see this should put down their comic books and be thankful for those of us who leave a considerable amount of money to recirculate in their unique state.

▪.  Jerry X Shea on July 21st, 2010 11:14 pm  
Let us not forget the guy with the 1968 pickup with a camper shell who talks about how great the salmon fishing was (in the good ol’days) when only 3 guys stood in the river and then they went to the one bar in town for a drink. Today, 500 guys are fishing within a one-mile strip of that same river (called combat fishing) and the town has 5 bars, hotels, restaurants, gift stores and this guy hates it all.
Alaska and its natives are not in “bad shape” because of tourists.

▪.  David Kocher on July 21st, 2010 11:21 pm  
Jeez Roger, who pissed you off? I have lived here 31 years, and the only smug and elite people I have met since I have been here, are the ones visiting that are decked out in their expensive Orvis waders and fly rods who want to keep this state as a national park or zoo! I do not know anyone that lives here, or any business, that does not appreciate tourism, and I disagree with your contention that tourism brought about all the changes you list. Senator Stevens was instrumental in making most of these changes and the improved infrastructure, which changed our status from a “foreign country” or territory to an actual member of the United States. When I moved here in ‘79, a three-minute call Outside would cost a roll or quarters. Mailing anything larger than an envelope used to cost a fortune. Now I pay eight cents a minute for my cell phone plan, and mailing a package here does not cost much more than a package to Seattle. Sure we might get a bit frustrated with the slow traffic along the Seward Highway in the summer, but I do not like driving it the winter either. I am sorry you apparently had a bad experience, but it sounds like, as usual, one bad experience tainted your opinion. Please do not judge us on this one bad experience. I came to visit a friend long ago, and forgot to leave! Take care.

▪.  Virgil Owen on July 22nd, 2010 12:50 pm  
I have lived here for a little over a year and I love it. The people are sometimes a little odd but they are good people. I have seen locals help our guests learn how to fish here in Kenai on more than one occasion. Like anywhere else I have ever lived there are good people and there are those who are just not very happy campers. I also lived in Homer for a short period of time and found the people, well, weird. Maybe that is why you see bumper stickers there that say “keep Homer weird.” Homer is a great place to visit, but I did not find it to my liking for living there. I love Kenai and Soldotna.