Showing posts from June, 2019

Sunday, June 30th-A Day of Hiking

Diana got 21,000 steps today on her Fitbit while I only got 18,000-her steps are shorter, aren’t they? We hiked two trails within a couple of miles of the Visitor Center and saw some interesting things. The first was Horseshoe Lake Trail and we saw a massive beaver dam. There were 4-5 smaller dams spread around the lake But the biggest one was 3-4 feet tall and at least 100 feet long! You could see the difference in the water level on the sides of the dam. I tried to take a picture of it but this was the best I could do:

This trail follows the Nenana River for a while and it’s interesting because of its color-GRAY! We’ve seen rivers that are blue, green, clear, and brown. But GRAY? There was a sign that explained the color of the water in the river. It said (?) that the gray water is a sign that the water is glacial melt. Did I forget to mention that there are around 20 glaciers in and around Denali? Anyway, the glaciers move during the late Spring and Summer and the glacier scraping …

Delayed 1 Day-Saturday, June 29th-Hot in Alaska?

All the information about Denali NP mentions that in the Summer you should be prepared for temps between 35 and 75 degrees F. The information DOESN’T mention that you should be prepared for temps in the upper 80’s! We did some hiking around the Visitor Center with some longer hikes today. We came back to the camper about 4:00 PM yesterday to turn on the A/C and get some respite from the heat. It felt like Houston and we’ve driven 3,300 miles to find cooler weather! Some rain is expected this afternoon so the highs are projected to be back down in the mid 70’s.

Yesterday we went to the Denali Dog Kennel for a tour and demonstration. Denali is the only national park to maintain working dog kennels. Surprisingly, the dogs are actually used in the Winter to deliver supplies and other materials within the park. In the summer, they train on the roads pulling a wheeled sled and perform for the visitors to the park. The dogs aren’t very comfortable in the Summer-The park ranger explained that…

Friday, June 28th-Denali National Park

We see the 14ers in Colorado and they appear massive but they pale in comparison to the mountains in Denali NP! In addition to South Peak (which we used to call Mt McKinley but now call Denali), there are two other mountains in Denali NP over 17,000 feet. The three tallest are
South Peak at 20,310 fr,North Peak at 19,470, and Mount Foraker at 17,400 feet.  Not only does Denali NP have the highest mountain in North America, it also uniquely serves as a Wilderness Preserve. That basically means it’s completely undeveloped. Guests can only drive their private vehicles 15 miles into the park. The rest of the transportation around the park is by bus. The three types of bus are Courtesy buses transport guests only within the freely accessed first 15 miles,Transit buses take guests certain places within the park-just transportation, andTour buses transport guests certain places within the park and the bus drivers are also naturalists who provide narrative during the trip. Initially, it’s all r…

Thursday, June 27th-Three Places Today!

Well, not all three places we went were fun, exciting, or even interesting. ANOTHER library! Without a printer, we have to go to a library every time we have to print something. Pesky ol’ ERS wanted just one more form from us.
The second place we went was LARS-Large Animal Research Station. LARS is a part of the Univ of Alaska at Fairbanks and does research on WHATZAT?

THAT is Cassio the Muskox! LARS does research to better understand Muskoxen. They have about 40 of them and would like to increase their herd size to 60-65. Our guide said they are not domesticated yet and have personalities like people-some are friendly and want to please while others are downright mean and gnarly!

They also have several herds of reindeer/caribou. The guide explained that reindeer come
from Europe and Scandinavia while caribou live mainly in Canada and Alaska. I KNOW we ate a hot dog made from Rudolph’s cousin but they are very gentle and the fur on their horns is incredibly soft. Here’s a couple of pi…

Wednesday, June 26th-Thanks Kyle Ellis!

A few days ago I was writing something about Fairbanks and Kyle Ellis, a Cascade alum, suggested Chena Hot Springs. I haven’t spoke with Kyle is 10-12 years but I’ve followed him and his family from Alaska to Florida. Talk about a change in weather!

We drove up there today and made a whole day of it! First, the road from North Pole is isolated because our NAV system took us to Chena Hot Springs Road on the backroads. It was a nice easy 50-55 mph drive to get there. On the way, we hiked the Angel Rocks Trail which was either 2.8 or 3.8 miles long. We couldn’t tell which part of the trail we were on and there were almost no signs on the trail. It was a nice hike. We had lunch on one of the Angel Rocks and here is a pic I took of the view:

The trail was moderately strenuous because it had 900’ of elevation change. It was so quiet on the trail and at the rocks that we could hear the river and creeks gurgling and bubbling.

We also saw Mrs Marty Moose and her calf in the Chena River State R…

Tuesday, June 25th-WHERE Was That Taco Bell?

Just to show you that I haven’t completely lost my mind, here’s a pic of our receipt from Taco Bell today:

Yes, that Taco Bell is on Santa Claus Lane in North Pole, AK! Actually, that’s one of the 3-4 places we went today. First was the public library in North Pole to take care of some ERS health insurance business. Then it was Santa Claus House in North Pole. Here’s a pic of Diana with the jolly ol’ boy:

By the way, Diana is the cute one on the lower left, not to be confused with the guy on the right! The business exists primarily to send letters to children who live all over the world from Santa. A big part of the attraction is that the letters are post-marked North Pole. For only $9.95 , your child can receive a personalized letter from Santa . . . . .

The next place we went was a roadside viewing point of the TAP-Trans Alaska Pipeline. It’s hard to imagine building. 4-foot wide pipe for 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope to Valdez, AK! It was built over 40 years ago and…

Sunday, June 23rd-Is This A Walmart or an RV Park?

Today we went to the Midnight Sun Festival in downtown Fairbanks:

No, we didn’t eat Rudolph but his cousin was delicious! By the way, that’s Diana’s joke-not mine! She’s a lot funnier than I am when it hits her!

Here we are at the Antler Entrance to Fairbanks’s Riverfront Park:

Two things were very different about our first Fairbanks Walmart: We had heard of RV’s camping in Walmart parking lots. We’ve actually seen 3-4 RVs in Wally World lots in Colorado but today we saw THIRTY ONE RVs set up in the WM store we went to. Their slide-outs were out, their generators were making electricity, and their RVs were leveled. There were 4-5 rows of them! This pic can’t capture all of them but you can get the idea:

The other thing I’d never seen before was electrical plugs ins in the parking lot for the employees’s cars. Check this out:

Before we left New Caney, Diana made window covering to keep all this sunlight out of the camper when we’re trying to sleep. She put them all up last night and th…

Saturday, June 22nd-This is Ridiculous!

Take a look at this weather report where we are. Actually, no, we aren’t AT the North Pole. We are IN North Pole, AK. It’s almost like a suburb on the East side of Fairbanks. Anyway, the weather report shows the sunrise this morning at 2:56 AM and the sunset at 12:45 AM! Think about that- there is two hours and 11 minutes of  semi darkness each night. I was trying to remember what I learned in Mr McGee’s fifth grade Science at O M Roberts Elementary in Dallas. I want to say this almost full sunlight in the summer and the almost total darkness in the winter is caused by 1) the earth tilting on its axis and 2) the fact that we’re about 200 miles South of the Arctic Circle. Somebody (everybody?) who knows more about this please explain it to me in a comment.

Today we finished the Alaska Highway-All 1,422 miles of it from Dawson Creek, BC through BC and the Yukon Territory to Delta Junction, AK. This little city of North Pole exists mainly to send letters from Santa and Mrs Claus to chil…

Friday, June 21st-BEAR!

Today is the ultimate day of relaxing. We’re at the Tundra RV Park in Tok with not much to see or do-just an almost deserted campground with moderate weather set in the trees (read BEAUTIFUL!). The high temps here are in the mid 70’s while the lows have been from the upper 40’s to the mid 50’s. Diana did a load of laundry this morning while I’m gonna grade some homework assignments for the two online classes I have this summer.

While bears aren’t around this campground, we have seen 8-10 bears along the side of the roads. Here’s a pic Diana took in the Yukon of a grizzly:

Now that we’re in Alaska, we’re going to buy some bear spray for our hikes. We were going to buy it in Canada but we heard that it may be considered a weapon when you cross an international border. We’ll buy it in Fairbanks and hopefully won’t have to use it!

Thursday, June 20th-Sunset WHEN? Sunrise WHEN?

You’d think that we would get used to these sunset and sunrise times but it DOES TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO! Mother Nature woke me up around 2:00 AM this morning and it was weird! Light was streaming in through the windows, door,  and skylights! So here is the weather report for Tok, AK. Checkout the sunset and sunrise times:

Sunrise at 3:16 AM and sunset at 11:48 PM? Whazzup with THAT? We still have a ways to go North to Fairbanks but I guess that’s where we’ll see the midnight sun. Speaking of Fairbanks, we were going to go there tomorrow but we ran into a snag. All the campgrounds were full so we’re having to spend an extra day in Tok. Tomorrow night is a baseball game in Fairbanks where the game starts at 10:00 PM and is played to the finish WITHOUT LIGHTS! It’s called the summer Solstice game and it happens every year on the longest sunshine day of the year.

Here’s another unique fact about Alaska: The ground between the campsites here is SOFT! You sink in an inch or two when you …

Wednesday, June 19th-A New Vocabulary Term!

The drive today from Destruction Bay, YT to Tok, AK was very different. It was rainy and wet most of the morning but it cleared up to be a beautiful day about the time we reached the border.

The new term we learned first hand today is FROST-HEAVE. It’s your enemy driving the Alaska Highway because it makes the highways very bumpy. Frost-heave happens twice a year. The freezing temps (40-50 BELOW zero F!) cause the water in the ground to swell and move the surface pavement UP. Then, the melting in the Late Spring and Summer causes the highway pavement to subside. The thing is that the amount of up and down movement isn’t consistent. A lot of the way from Canada’s Kluane National Park to here was 40-50 mph because of the condition of the roads.

I must compliment our friends to the North (Canada) because the roads were smoother in YT than in AK. I guess that could be explained by Canada having more experience maintaining highways with frost-heave. Oh well.

This campground is heavily wood…

Tuesday, June 18th-Good News and Bad News!

We left Whitehorse, YT this morning and we’ve driven as far as Destruction Bay, YT. We called last night and made reservations at this campground. We got here this afternoon and the office was closed, no one was around, and the sign on the door said the Early Season rate for camping here is $20 Canadian. So we put $15 American in the envelope and read more details of the sign on the door. The rate is half-price because the owner hasn’t fixed the frozen water pipes from last winter! So the good news is half-price camping but the bad news is no water. We can live without water for a while but making coffee, washing dishes, and flushing the toilet all require water. We have three one gallon jugs of water so we should be set until tomorrow morning. Yes, we DO keep the water jugs separate!  I talked to the guy near us and he said it’s 80 miles to the next campground on the Alaska Highway.

Speaking of 80 miles to the next campground, you learn things pretty quickly when you’re driving up he…

Monday, June 17th-Three Weird Things!

We’ve spent today in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. The first thing we saw was a DC-3 commercial aircraft that is an actual operational wind vane at the Whitehorse Airport. I know it sounds really strange but we watched it turn on its pedestal as the direction of the wind slightly changed. I know you think I’ve been smokin’ funny-smellin’ cigarettes so I took a picture of it. Take a look:

The third unusual sight we saw today was completely by accident. We were driving back to the campground and we saw a highway sign that said Scenic Road. You HAVE to explore a simple two-lane road like that! We followed it to the end and there was Miles Canyon. This place has to be seen to be believed! Here are two pics of the basalt walls with the bright green water: I
We got back to the camper and our propane grill was outta juice so Diana cooked steak and shrimp over the wood fire. Delicious!

Sunday, June 16th-Finally to Alaska!

Well, it has taken us over a month but we finally made it to Alaska! If just for one day! As I said yesterday, we’re in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and we decided to drive down the Klondike Highway for a day. We spent most of the day in Skagway, AK so today was a 1 state, 2 province, 2 country day! While Skagway is a cute little touristy city, the drive there and back made it magnificent! Here are two pics we took alongside the highway and one really funny T-shirt in a shop window:

There were two cruise ships anchored in Skagway so there were, oh, 4-5,000 tourists there. We read a couple of interesting facts about Skagway. Get this-First, there were about 1.4 million tourists visited Skagway in 2018 and about 1.3 million of them came on cruise ships! Second, Skagway has a permanent population of about 800 and there can be 10X as many (8,000!) visitors there when three cruise ships are docked. Somehow that gives an entirely new meaning to the term Gold Rush! Here’s a pic of the two do…

Saturday, June 15th-Our Prettiest Campsite Yet!

We’re in the capital of the Yukon Territory in a city named Whitehorse. After 2-3 days of driving 250-300 miles a day, we decided to spend three days here. Our campsite is way up on “The hill” but it’s as pretty a site as you’ll ever see. Here’s the pic Diana took:
We’re trying to decide if we want to drive down to Skagway tomorrow or wait until on the way back South. There is a bus/train tour from here to Skagway but it’s $144. US per person. I’m thinking the round trip drive would cost $60-70 US in gas so why not save $200?

There aren’t very many turnouts on the Alaska Highway but we stopped in one today. I stood by the side of the truck and took this pic. We’ve been driving over the Canadian Rockies for the past three days and this gives you an idea of the views we’ve had:

Oh, I forgot to mention two things from yesterday. First, I posted a pic of Muncho Lake and commented on how beautiful it is. I forgot to mention the lack of development around the lake. We did not see ONE struct…

Friday, June 14th-Driving the Alcan to the Yukon Territory!

Yes, Diana drove a while today and did a fine job! Along the way, we saw four bears today and a large heard of buffalo lounging on both sides of the highway. We’re now in the Yukon Territory although just barely over the border of BC.

We found another competitor for Lake Tahoe: Muncho Lake along the Alaska Highway is a turquoise Lake Tahoe. We had a picnic lunch looking at the lake and took a buncha pics. Here’s my favorite:

Thursday, June 13th-A STRANGE Gas Station!

We were about 175 miles on the Alaska Highway so we drove into a place that advertised GDP-Gas-Diesel-Propane. The first rather unusual thing I noticed is that the giant fuel tanks were sitting in the middle of the lot. The guy in front of me was a Canadian from Ontario and HE didn’t even know where or how to pay for the fuel! There was no place on the outside of these tanks to insert a card! Diana and I were trying to figger it out while the guy from Ontario went inside the restaurant to ask. He came back out and found a room the size of two people where consumers could prepay for their fuel. You had to put the off-on switch to OFF, go swipe your card in that little room, put the off-on switch to ON, fill your tank, put the switch back to OFF, and then go back to the little room to swipe your card again to get your receipt! I was exhausted after all that running around!

A couple from Sun River, OR drove up just before we left and I explained the process to him. Other than that strang…

Wednesday, June 12th-The Mile 0 Marker


Wednesday, June 12th-No Midnight Sun YET But Still.....

We’re not to Alaska yet but the geography is threatening the midnight sun! The sunrise in Dawson Creek this morning was 4:15 AM and the sunset will be at 9:44 PM. That’s six and a half hours of darkness a night. I took Soo Young outside to do her business when we were near Glacier NP in MT at 10:00 PM a couple of nights ago and it was still bright enough outside to read!

Alaska is one of the two states I’ve never been to but I’m guessing we’ll see much more sunlight as we go farther North. Here’s a pic of the camper in Mile 0 Park and Campground:

Tuesday July 11th-Strange!

Diana and went on a date tonight to perhaps Canada’s most popular fast food place-A&W! Every town you go through has at least one A&W place plus there are 7-11’s on almost every street corner. Anyway, we went to get ice cream floats but the featured item on the menu was “Wild-Caught Codburger!” What do YOU think of an A&W that specializes in Codburgers and doesn’t even serve hot dogs? Diana grew up having hot dogs at A&W but not here!

Tuesday, June 11th-R & R in Dawson Creek, BC

Today was our second or third day (in a row!) of just driving. 250 miles doesn't sound like a long way to drive a car on the highways but driving 8 and a half tons down the highway sure wears you out! We're going to spend two days here in Dawson Creek mainly to relax and recover. DC is famous for being Mile 0 on the Alaska Highway (It was originally called the Alcan [Alaska-Canada] Highway). There is a museum we're going to visit tomorrow recording the history of the construction of the highway.

For a quick summary, it was built from here to Delta Junction, AK over 8 months. It became necessary to build a highway to Alaska to defend our (then) territory from the Japanese invasion in 1942. The Japanese did, in fact, invade and occupy two of the Aleutian Islands! One fact that is hard to follow is that prior to the construction of the Alcan Highway, there were NO ROADS to Alaska! That sounds strange in 2019 but Alaska was then only accessible via ship or airplane. Over those…