Sunday, August 30, 2009

8/30/2009 - Whitehorse, YT to Watson Lake, YT

We left Whitehorse and headed to Watson Lake today. Here are a few photos of the journey.
This is the Teslin River bridge as we approach it from the north.
Before starting our trip to Alaska, many of our friends told us that we had to make a mandatory stop at Mukluk Annie's. They said that if you had their salmon bake dinner, that they provided you with a free boondocking sight for the night. Before we started north, we found out that Annie's had closed down at the end of last season, so we weren't able to enjoy this stop. I wasn't able to get a photo as we headed north, but did stop on the way south just to get a photo.

Ken spotted this unique car and trailer a few days before we actually got to meet up with them. It finally worked out that they were at the same rest area when we stopped for lunch. This is a 1915 model T speedster (all stock engine and running gear) that Matt rebuilt I believe as a school project a few years ago. He also built the trailer that they towed behind the car. Matt and his wife Jess had been planning the Alaska trip for several years. They waited until Jess graduated from law school, then took the ferry from Bellingham to Whittier, and were driving from there back to Mt Vernon, WA.

Here's the trailer.

This photo is of Matt and Jess all bundled up and ready to hit the road.

After arriving at Watson Lake and getting set up for the evening, we walked over to the famous sign forest. The visitor center told us that there were over 65,000 signs now posted there.

Another shot of the sign forest.

As we were going through the sign forest, we ran into Matt and Jess, and they took our photo.

And yet another shot of the sign forest. It's an amazing site and much more than we expected.

8/29/2009 - Whitehorse, YT Museums and Dinner with Friends

On our last full day in Whitehorse, we decided to tour two museums that offer a discount for going to both of them. The first one we visited was the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center. It covered time thousands of years ago when there was a land mass between North America and Asia. We found it very interesting and although some of the animals are similar to ones we see now, there are still differences.
This photo is taken from outside the museum.
This photo is of the wooly mammoth which looks very much like a prehistoric elephant.

The next museum was the transportation museum. We first went through a room devoted to bush planes. It was mostly made up of photos covering the history of bush planes.

The next section of the museum covered the gold rush era of the late 1890's when gold was first discovered in the Klondike. It covered all of the main towns which the miners traveled through and their ordeals in getting to the Klondike gold fields.

The final area of the museum had various vehicles that serve the Yukon Territory. This yellow machine is a snow groomer and the quote on the hood caught my eye.

As we left the museum, we saw that the DC-3 weather vane was moving so we stopped to watch it for a while. On our way to Alaska, it was in a different location. During the time we were north, they physically moved the plane to it's new location in front of the transportation museum. I tried making a video of it's movement, but it made me seasick to watch it, so decided not to bother posting it.

Later that evening we went to dinner with fellow Escapees, Diane and Andy, and had a great evening visiting and enjoying their company. Diane and Andy have also been keeping a blog of the travels and have some fantastic bear photos. Take a look at their blog at:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

8/28/2009 - Gray Mountain - Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

We spent the morning getting caught up with laundry and just resting after a couple of bumpy days on the Alaskan Highway. We headed out in the early afternoon and started with a lunch at the Klondike Rib & Salmon BBQ.
The interior of the building was decorated with items unique to the north country.
Our waitress had to ham it up a bit for the camera.

The menu mentioned something about Klondike sized halibut fish and chips. Each piece was the size of what we would normally get in a three piece order.

After lunch, we drove up to the Gray Mountain overlook and had some wonderful views into the valley below. This first photo is to the south of the town of Whitehorse and is of the Yukon River.

This is a view of Chadburn Lake with the Yukon River in the background.

After a day of sightseeing, we returned to the campground. As we pulled in, we were surprised to see that Andy and Diane (fellow Escapees who we met at the Palmer Elks) had arrived a day early. We talked for a short while and made arrangements to have dinner the next night together.

Friday, August 28, 2009

8/27/2009 - Snag Junction to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

The Alaska blueberries I had picked on our trip up the Nabesna Road were used in pancakes this morning and were pretty good. After breakfast, we were on the road headed for Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. On the way there, we stopped at Sheep Mountain Visitor Center near Kluane Lake. This is a primary winter and spring range for Dall sheep. We were told that there was currently about 90 sheep on the mountain. Unfortunately, our camera would make them look like small white dots so no photo is available. At Haines Junction, this next photo is their village monument.

It almost looks like we took a wrong turn at Haines Junction and landed in Germany. We actually saw quite a few RV's like these two from Germany. We followed them through construction on the Alaskan Highway and on into Whitehorse.

We arrived at Pioneer RV Park around 3:00pm and ran into Jeff, aka RVDude, whom we had met at the Spartan factory in Charlotte, Michigan a couple of years ago. He was getting ready to leave, but he and Ken got to talking for quite a while, and the subject of Elks came up. Jeff mentioned that the Elks in Whitehorse must have a good dinner as their parking lot was full last night. He decided to stay another night so we could all go to the Elks for dinner. Upon arriving at the Elks, the dinner turned out to be bingo which they have every night of the week. We ended up having a good meal at Earl's and a great time visiting with Jeff.

8/26/2009 - After a Great Summer, We Leave Alaska

All good things seem to come to an end, and today we ended our adventures in the beautiful state of Alaska. We're already talking about coming back in a couple of years if at all possible. We stopped in Tok for some additional groceries and fuel, then continued on our way. The Alaskan Highway follows the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge for some distance, and we stopped at their visitor center for a short while to learn what we could there.
The cone-shaped on the side of the highway in this photo are an experiment to keep ground from thawing and prevent frost heaves. Hopefully, it will work as this section of road was bad!

We are now out of Alaska and entering Yukon Territory.

We arrived at Snag Junction, a Yukon Territory campground, and set up for the night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

8/25/2009 - Nabesna Road - Wrangell-St Elias National Park

We drove the Nabesna Road to it's 42 mile end today. Here are a couple of scenery photos along the way.

This is one of the unique buildings at the end of the road.

And this is the airport at the end of the road.

On the way back to the RV, we stopped in a couple of places so I could pick some blueberries. When I first heard about the Alaska blueberries, they sounded very much like our huckleberries in Idaho. However, they're very different as the plant is much lower to the ground with very small leaves. The berry is very much like the huckleberry and tastes the same.
Tomorrow we start our departure out of the wonderful state of Alaska. We're not in too much of a hurry to leave as it's been a great visit with so much to do and see. But, the weather is starting to get colder and we see signs of fall and winter approaching. Tok is the first major destination town in Alaska and it's about 60 miles from where we are now. We will head there in the morning to get fuel, and get some necessary groceries before heading into Canada. The dairy prices in Canada are very high, so that is one thing on our list for tomorrow for sure.
As we will be in Canada for the next 2-3 weeks, we will not be available by cell phone. For the most part, we are still able to get email either through our satellite dish or by connecting to a local wi-fi in our travels.

8/24/2009 - Copper River, Alaska

We left Valdez and headed for Slana, Alaska to do some sightseeing on on the northern road into Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve. We turned east off the Richardson Highway onto the Tok Cutoff Road and found a great location for a lunch break. We had a great view of the Copper River, home of the famous Copper River salmon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

8/23/2009 - Bear Fishing and Berry Picking

It was our last afternoon in Valdez, so we decided to take a drive out on Dayville Road to watch the spawning salmon. In our other trips out there, we had noticed the flashing sign saying "Bear in area - do not approach", but had never seen the bears. As we were headed back to town, we finally saw a bear! It was catching the spawning salmon and seemed to be just eating the eggs out of the females, then going on to the next fish.
You can see the eggs just below the fish in this photo.

Taking a break from eating.

Bear stare down.

After a while, the bear wandered over to the berry bushes. As it headed up the hill, we could see a branch with a cluster of berries pulled down. When the branch reappeared, the berries were gone and the bear continued on up the hill.

8/22/2009 - Valdez Glacier

We took another drive today and went to see the Valdez Glacier.

We went to a gift shop in town that shows videos of the 1964 earthquake and the building of the Alaska Pipeline. It was quite an amazing construction project. We picked up some halibut fish and chips to take back to the RV for dinner.

8/21/2009 - Valdez, AK

We left Kenny Lake and headed to Valdez for 3 nights. We stopped to see the Worthington Glacier on the way.
This is Bridal Veil Falls.

Horsetail Falls

After getting set up, we drove around the area. The next 2 photos are of the small boat harbor in town.

We took the Dayville Road and stopped at Abercrombie Creek to watch the salmon spawning. There seems to be hundreds of fish in small areas.

A little further down the road, there were times where we could see a dozen or more harbor seals which we're sure are really enjoy the quantities of salmon coming back to spawn.

This is a photo of the weir dam with the Solomon Fish Hatchery in the background. The salmon coming back to this area started their lives in the hatchery.

There must be millions of fish trying to get back to where they started life.

On the way back to the RV, we stopped at a USFS visitor center and fish spawning boardwalk.

Later that evening, we enjoyed a steak dinner (including salad, garlic bread, corn on the cob and baked potato) at the Valdez Elks lodge. They open it to the public between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It was a very busy place and we heard later that there were about 150 dinners served that night.

8/20/2009 - Drive to McCarthy and Kennicott

We packed our lunch and headed out on a day trip on the McCarthy Road to see the old towns of McCarthy and Kennicott in Wrangell/St Elias National Park. It started out as a a clear day and we stopped at a viewpoint to get this photo of Mt Wrangell.
The McCarthy Road is on an old rail track. We are approaching the Kuskulana Bridge which we will be crossing.
This is the McCarthy Road Information Station.

Here is a view of Root Glacier.

Before you get to the town of McCarthy, there was a parking area where you pay $5.00 to park there for the day. When I went over to pay for our parking, the attendant asked me what we had in the back of the pickup. When I told him it was an ATV, he told me we could ride it here if we wanted to unload. That sounded better than $20.00 for the shuttle service and being on their schedule as to when we could leave. Here's Ken on the ATV with a view of Kennicott in the background.

This building is the Kennicott Glacier Lodge which now serves as a hotel and restaurant. It served as housing for the workers at the Kennicott Copper Mine when it was running.

This is another view of Kennicott.

This is one of many old buildings in McCarthy.

How about this airplane for a fixer upper?

The berries must be ripe if this bear scat is any indication!

As we headed back to the RV, we saw this moose at Two Mile Lake. Although we never saw any movement, it appears to be her calf to the right of her in the grass.