I Know, It’s Been A While…….

I know; we haven’t talked in a while. In fact we were way up north in Dawson City, YT last time I pounded the keyboard if you want to call that thing on an iPad a keyboard.

Tonight I am in the comfort of my cluttered and messy home pounding my favorite old keyboard.

The trip was very educational; one of the insignificant things I learned is that I don’t write very well when I am on the road. I guess I don’t write very well here either but it is more fun and relaxing here.

We enjoyed Dawson; it was just a fun place to hang out. We were a little bit south and a month or so late for the true midnight sun but it was light enough to snap this pic a few minutes after 11:00 PM.
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Alright I can do pics again.

Our hotel in Dawson
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I guess we kind of started the long journey home from there; our next planned stop was 332 miles south at Whitehorse, YT. We had an unscheduled stop about an hour south of Dawson.

Remember that tire problem we had in Chicken; we got to unload about half our stuff and change that thing right there beside the road. The first one I’ve changed beside the road in probably twenty years. I got the tire problem taken care of in Whitehorse.

I promised a pic of the service station in Chicken where I almost got the thing fixed a few days earlier; here is that pic.

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We did a little site seeing in the rain in Whitehorse but it was mainly just a necessary overnight stop.

Our next overnight stop was Skagway. We weren’t anxious to start that 109 mile drive. Along the way several people had told us we should have gone to Haines instead of Skagway. When we planned the trip we really just kind of flipped a coin between the two and picked Skagway. We were pleasantly surprised; the drive was absolutely beautiful.

We stopped in a little place called Carcross, short for Caribou crossing. We met some very interesting and friendly people in the Visitors Center and also in some of the shops. Carcross, YT will go on my list of favorite places and not just for this trip but for all time.

This pic is of Emerald Lake, a few miles north of Carcross, trust me, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

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Skagway proved to be the least favorite place we visited during the entire trip. The only thing we found worthy of a positive comment is a very good seafood restaurant. The place was way too commercial; it was mostly jewelry stores and souvenir shops preying on the cruise ship visitors.

We spent about 30 minutes in town and headed to the country. We spent several hours exploring the back roads and trails in and around Dyea. Dyea was a thriving town during the early gold rush days, the railroad didn’t go there; Dyea didn’t survive.
At one point on our way to Dyea the altimeter on the GPS showed 23 ft. below sea level. We had a good day.

We left Skagway about 9:00PM Monday night aboard the Columbia; we were on our way back to the lower 48. We rode the Marine Highway four nights and three days arriving in Bellingham, WA Friday morning.

The ferry stopped several places along the way. Some of the stops were only for an hour or so and some of them were at midnight or two in the morning. We were in Sitka and Ketchikan for three or four hours in the afternoon, we seized the opportunity to get off the boat for a little while and enjoyed both places.

Upon leaving Bellingham our goal was to get home Sunday. We got a few hours sleep in Butte, MT and Limon, CO and I left Patty and her stuff at her house Sunday about 8:00PM and I came to my house.

Before I quit tonight I will bore you with a few quick stats. We were gone 35 days; we slept in 20 different beds. We put 7,480 miles on the old Chrysler and rode the ferries about 2500 miles if I did the math right.

I have my pics out of the cameras, phone an iPad. I still need to sort and edit them; if I can find 15 or 20 good ones out of the few hundred I took I will try to put something together and post it in a few days.

It was a great run and I can cross another one off the bucket list.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

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Still No Pics. . . .

I wrote this last night but couldn’t get it to upload. It may look a little strange but I will fill in some gaps and add a little of today’s activity.

We are in Dawson City, Yukon Territory tonight. It is raining a little, I have good WiFi but to be honest I was too tired or maybe lazy to get the laptop out of the car.

I think we had just got to Fairbanks when we last talked. We really enjoyed our time there.

Monday we took a flight up to Coldfoot, a little place on the Dalton Highway, about 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Since we were in the neighborhood we caught a van driven by one of, those kids I talked about last time, this one a University of Georgia student from Atlanta. A very personable and knowledgeable young lady spending her summer living in a tent and explaining the far north to old geezers like me.

She drove us thirteen miles up the road to Wiseman. A small village with only thirteen residents. Their claim to fame: they are permanent residents, they don’t go south when the snow flies. Jack, one of the residents, gave us an excellent presentation on the history and lifestyle of Wiseman.

The flight, much to my surprise, was very scenic. I don’t know why, but I was expecting to see a bunch of frozen tundra. I think that starts another hundred or two miles up the road.

Tuesday was a rainy day in Fairbanks. Patty has this unique ability to find a museum on rainy days. She did good this time; we spent most of the day in the Museum Of The North on the campus of The University of Alaska Fairbanks. I don’t know if I should be concerned or proud, but I am beginning to enjoy the museum visits. Never too old to grow.

Last night we were in Tok, Ak; it is just a small town on the Alaska Highway. We just needed an overnight stop and that is about all Tok has to offer. The motel did provide a presentation by Hugh Neff, a musher, he has competed in the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest for several years, winning the Quest one time. Patty may correct me on this, she pays more attention to those things than I do. He gave an interesting and informative presentation.

I made a mental note at Tok. Don’t stay at a motel / RV park combo; those RV folk get up real early and are kind of noisy.

To say the run from Tok to Dawson was scenic and interesting would be an understatement on both counts. The only things between the two are Chicken, AK and a shared U. S. And Canadian customs facility in the middle of nowhere.

We were expecting asphalt roads with some stretches of gravel. We found mostly gravel with a little asphalt. We drove the Taylor highway the first sixty miles to Chicken and The Top Of the World highway the final 120 miles from Chicken to Dawson.

The view was really kind of breathtaking almost the entire route. I really can’t confirm that for the last twenty or so miles, all we saw was dense fog and rain. Also, they need more gravel on the road, it was pretty muddy.

We arrived in Dawson via a free ferry ride across the Yukon river. The streets in Dawson could also use a little more gravel, they are pretty muddy. Maybe some sunshine tomorrow.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Chicken is not a good place to have a flat. They sell a lot of T shirts and other stuff, they have two or three cafés but they don’t fix flats. They did have an air hose and the souvenir shop sold those seven dollar tire plug kits for $29.95. Got her fixed good enough for that 120 mile run and we didn’t have to unload the car and put the spare on. It may be flat tomorrow but I think they fix flats here.

Update: Patty had a picture of the service station where I did the self help tire repair. Darned WiFi the pic just won’t work. It is worth a look I will get it in someday.

They fix flats here in Dawson but the guy that does them is on a service call and won’t be back until noon tomorrow; he is probably gone to Chicken to fix a flat.

Update continued: We had a slow, relaxing but good day in Dawson. I will remember it as the neat little town with boardwalks, no curbs and no pavement except for the highway from Whitehorse.

We took a guided walking tour of the town. Our guide, Justin, is another of those, here because he wants to be guys. He did an excellent job and seemed to enjoy himself.

Dawson sits at the junction of the Klondike and Yukon rivers and dates back the the discovery of gold in 1896.

Thanks for listening, I kind of needed to unwind a little tonight. Maybe some pics in a day or two.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave and Patty

Google Says . . .

Google says it takes eight hours eleven minutes to make the 356 mile drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks. We had breakfast in Anchorage Tuesday and a late lunch in Fairbanks today, Sunday. A little longer than the Google estimate. OK so we stopped along the way.

We spent about an hour in Wasilla. We didn’t see Sarah; we visited the Iditarod headquarters. It is certainly not a destination type thing but if you are in Wasilla and have an extra hour it is interesting.

Our next delay in that eight hour drive was Talkeetna. This little tourist town kind of stole my heart; it just doesn’t feel like a tourist town. The residents act like they are proud you are there just because you are you.

We did a little “flightseeing” the first day we were there. We joined a young pilot and four other people on board a ’53 Dehaviland Beaver equipped with normal wheels and some little ski things. We flew out to Mt. McKinley, I think about 60 miles, landed on a glacier, got out , played in the snow a bit and came back.

That was the short version because I am not nearly talented enough to put the sheer beauty and excitement of the entire experience into words.

The view from our hotel was superb. Both days we were there it was perfectly clear with McKinley clearly visible. The local opinion is that! because of weather, only 30% of the visitors to the area actually get to see the mountain. Patty and I qualify for membership in the Thirty Percent Club.

Our second day we were just enjoying the town and kind of impulsively we decided it might be fun to ride a raft down the river; no white water, just a lazy ride, all we had to do was get in sit down and enjoy the trip. We did twenty seven miles down the Chulitna River. KiKi drove and we just enjoyed the trip, we didn’t see bears like the ones in the brochure but we saw several eagles and some beautiful scenery. The conversation with the other rafters and KiKi coupled with the relaxing environment resulted in a very enjoyable afternoon.

Thursday (I think) as we were leaving Talkeetna I glanced in the rear view and said good bye, I wish it was see ya later, but I’m sure it was good bye.

On a trip that consumes 35 or so days and includes eighteen different places of lodging, some bad weather and lodging surprises can be expected. Our stop at Denali provided us with both.

I won’t provide all the details, just trust me the cabins were nothing like the brochure/website depicted them. We survived and the stay there made us appreciate all the others especially the one here.

It rained a lot and was cloudy while we were at Denali. No McKinley sitings. We are a little over half way on this run; I’m sure we can expect more weather and lodging surprises or maybe we get lucky.

Even with the weather issues Denali is an awesome experience. We explored the part of the park accessible by private car and some of the surrounding area the first couple days. The last day there we took a bus ride 92.5 miles to the back of the park. I was in awe of the expanse and sheer beauty of the place.

We saw several moose and a lot of caribou. The highlight of the wildlife experience was a Mama grizzly bear and two cubs just enjoying life, we were a few hundred yards away but clearly visible for a long time; down the road a few miles we found papa bear a pretty large grizzly. He was working his way down a riverbed looking for food, again not real close but he stayed with us for a long time.

If beautiful mountain countryside and wildlife viewing is something you enjoy, put a visit to Denali on your bucket list.

The run from Denali to Fairbanks was almost an extension of Denali for viewing the countryside. It is very sparsely populated.
The highlight was a stop in Nenana a small community about 50 miles south of Fairbanks. We got a good feel for small town pride and lifestyle. They were having a boat race, 50hp max, to Fairbanks and return. I think they had about ten entries, everyone was having fun.

Life puts all of us in daily contact with people who provide a service for a living. This trip has taken that contact to another level.

The the waiters, hotel clerks, trip guides etc. we have met in our 49th state beginning with the staff on the boats, employees of the state of Alaska, all of them just leave a good taste in your mouth.

Our contact with most of them was brief, however we got to spend a little time with a few of them.

Mike, the pilot on our McKinley flight was less than half the age of his plane, didn’t ask but I think late twenties. He was from Florida. Patty asked how long he had flown. His response: legally since I was fourteen but I remember sitting on my dad’s lap.

John worked for the rafting company. He grew up in Mississippi and Alaska. He has a degree in Health Care admin. He left the corporate world to come to Alaska live in a cabin without indoor plumbing, ride a bike to work hauling people and rafts up and down the river.

KiKi, like the other two, in her twenties. A very personable young lady from Montana with a Mechanical Engineering degree. She left a good job in Salt Lake to come to Talkeetna and haul old guys like me down the river in a raft. She lived in her car.

I’m sure John and KiKi will return to the corporate world someday but today they, like the others, are where they want to be doing what they enjoy and it is evident in the way they do their job.

I promise more pics when the WiFi improves.

God Bless

Dave and Patty