Friday, August 24, 2007

Day 77, Sun, Aug 19, 2007, Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada to Whitehorse, YT

Wow, what a day today was! We got away from Dawson City around 1:00 p.m. and headed down the Klondike Highway expecting to possibly make it to Carmacks. Just before Pelly Crossing the dreaded rock chip on the windshield happened in a 2 mile stretch of loose gravel. Shortly after going through Pelly Crossing Jerry’s lower right leg started hurting and from past experience he was certain it was cellulitis coming on. Before too long he was shivering and shaking so hard he couldn’t drive so I drove to Carmacks. We got to Carmacks around 7:30 and found the local nurse’s office, picked up the phone and it summoned the nurse who came to the office and said we needed to get to the hospital in Whitehorse, which was four hours away. By then Jerry’s leg was red as a beet, swollen, and very, very sore, but the chills and shivering had let up so he drove on to Whitehorse. We got to the hospital in Whitehorse a little after midnight and the ER doctor put him on an IV of antibiotics and told him to come back in 12 hours. Finally around 2:00 a.m. we got out of the ER and went back to the RV where we spent the night in the parking lot with security’s blessing. By having to go to Whitehorse caused us to drive 378 miles in one day, our longest drive in one day since we left home.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Day 76, Sat, Aug 18, 2007, Chicken, AK to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada

Well we finally made it to Canada. We left Chicken, AK at noon today and traveled the 40 miles or so on the Top of the World Highway to the Canadian border over some of the worst roads I’ve ever traveled. It took us about three hours to travel that stretch. The entire trip was on gravel road with potholes, washboards, several narrow places and some loose gravel where they had made repairs. The dust was terrible, but fortunately it was not rainy or it would have been slick.

I have not had any white knuckle driving since we left home, but that 40 miles was all white knuckle driving. We even saw one place where a motorhome or travel trailer had gotten too close to the edge and gone down a ravine. There was nothing there but shreds of stuff. It had happend two or three days before, so I'm sure most of it had been hauled away by now. We heard someone mention it in Tok and supposedly the occupants only suffered minor cuts and bruises. We could not figure out how they could have come out of it alive.

Once we hit the Canadian border the road was much better, but it was still pretty rough and also had loose gravel in places, but for the most part it was hard gravel (almost like pavement) and even had lines marked. We did run into some light rain for much of the trip from the Canadian border into Dawson City. Even still we only averaged about 35 miles per hour from there to Dawson City.

When we came down the long steep hill and entered Dawson City, we had to come to an abrupt stop at the river’s edge. We thought we had taken a wrong turn, but no, you have to take the free ferry across the Yukon River to actually get into town. That was neat.

We then secured a campsite about a mile out of town and then went back to town for an outstanding fish and chip dinner (cod). It was some of the best cod we’ve had. Then we went back to the campground and used their RV wash to get the ton of dust and dirt off the RV.

We drove 120 miles total today. The low temp in Chicken was 43 degrees, and the warmest we saw was 77 here in Dawson City.

Pictures: Click here

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Day 75, Fri, Aug 17, 2007, Tok, AK to Chicken, AK

Well, I though by now we would be in Canada, but no, we’re still here in Alaska, Chicken, Alaska that is.

Barbara just had to see Chicken, so we left Tok around 1:30 this afternoon after doing some souvenir shopping, topping off the gas tank and filling the propane tank.

Chicken is 78 miles from Tok, but it is a winding road with a lot of gravel repair spots, so we didn’t make the best time in the world. The speed limit is 50 MPH and we were doing 25 at times, although for the most part we were able to do 40 and some 50 with no problem. Of course we had to stop and take pictures along the way.

Chicken is a quaint place. There are three businesses plus a post office. We’ve stopped at all four places and now spending the night at one of the two campgrounds here. Each place has their own generator since there is no commercial power in Chicken. There are even two places to buy gasoline at $3.45 per gallon. We paid $3.19 in Tok and I understand it is over $5.00/gal in Dawson, Yukon Territory where we should be by this time tomorrow.

We drove 75 miles today. The high temp we saw was 81 degrees, the low 51.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Day 74, Thu, Aug 16, 2007, Fairbanks, AK to Tok, AK

We finally got everything together and left Fairbanks around noon today. We stopped at The Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK, about 20 miles out of Fairbanks. After an extended stop there, we headed on down the Richardson Highway toward Tok. We made another extended stop at Rika’s Roadhouse and had a bite to eat. From there we drove on into Tok, AK, arriving around 7:15 PM.

There we secured a campsite and had a dinner of salmon, halibut and reindeer cooked on an open fire. It was very good. Then we called it a day.

We are contemplating driving to Chicken, AK tomorrow. We don’t know whether to come back to Tok and continue on down the Alaska Highway (Canada is 93 miles away from here) on continue from Chicken on down the Top of the World Highway. We are getting bad reports from both routes of really bad, rough roads. There are reports of motorhomes being towed back to Tok that have broken because of the terrible roads. We’ll just have to see what lies ahead for us.

We drove almost 214 miles today. The high temp we encountered was 78 degrees, the low was 51 early this morning.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Day 73, Wed, Aug 15, 2007, Fairbanks, AK

What an exciting day! We went to Aliy Zirkle’s house this morning and had a great visit with her and also got to pet her dogs. The highlight was getting to hold Blue’s 3 ½ day old puppies! How precious! Aliy has won the Yukon Quest and finished the Iditarod several times. We’ve known her since 2003 when we stayed in the same B&B as her parents and sister, Kaz. We’re so glad we got to see her while we were here.

Also, we got to meet an Idita-support friend in person—Jan DeNapoli. We’ve known her via the Internet for years; now we can put a face to the name. She also mushes so we got to meet her dogs, too. What a treat! Her dogs we so personable that they gave us lots of laughs. And Jan herself is someone I feel like I’ve known for years. We also got to meet Jan’s father and Jan’s friends, Kim and Patty. Thanks, Jan, for a great afternoon.

We came back to the campground and washed a couple loads of clothes and also gave the motorhome a good washing. Then around 8:15 PM while we were sitting in the motorhome we heard some horns honking and when we looked out there was a parade of about 12 old cars going up and down the rows between the campers. What a treat.

A couple that stuck out in my (Jerry’s) mind was a 1950 Ford F2 pickup. I learned to drive in one of those on the farm when I was about 9 years old. The other was a 1955 Chevy which was the first car I ever owned. That sure did bring back some great memories.

High: 61
Low: 51

Pictures: Click here

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day 72, Tue, Aug 14, 2007, Fairbanks, AK

Nothing really to report today. We ran some errands, worked on our web pictures, and transferred files from one computer to the other. It was a pretty nice day for the most part, but we did experience some periods of light rain which is predicted for the next day or so here in Fairbanks.

Hope everyone is doing OK. We should have things to report on tomorrow.

High: 67
Low: 57

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Day 71, Mon, Aug 13, 2007, Fairbanks, AK

We spent today setting up Barbara’s laptop and working on pictures for the webpage. We finally got a week’s worth of pictures up but are still one week behind. We’re concerned about what kind of internet coverage we’ll have once we leave Fairbanks on Thursday. We already have plans for Wednesday so we have to work hard tomorrow to try to get as many pictures up as possible. We also have a couple of errands we have to run, so tomorrow will be a busy day.

High 78
Low 59

Day 70, Sun, Aug 12, 2007, Fairbanks, AK

Happy Anniversary to us! Today we celebrated our 29th anniversary. We had a nice dinner at a restaurant in Two Rivers. We also bought a second laptop so Barbara can keep up with the pictures and blog while Jerry hogs the other computer to read e-mails and do the bills. While Jerry was in the campground computer room setting up the new computer Barbara showered in the motorhome, filling up the gray-water tank so the shower wouldn’t drain. So, at midnight, in the rain, we had to drain our tanks. What a romantic way to celebrate our anniversary!

High temp: 62
Low temp: 53

Pictures: Click here

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Day 69, Sat, Aug 11, 2007, Fairbanks, AK

Today we got a pretty early start and went to the Ft Wainwright Exchange and commissary to get some needed items. From there we went to the Tananaw Valley State Fair. It was quite a warm day with the sun out all day, making it seem hot.

We were a little disappointed, although we did see some 45 pound cabbages and quite large turnips, along with a lot of other things grown here in Alaska. They grow so large because of the long hours of daylight. Of course we had to have the state fair hot dog and elephant ears.

On the way home from the fair we stopped at a car wash and used their vacuum to clean the inside of the motorhome as it really need it.

From there we did some shopping and then came back to the campground and used their car wash to clean this filthy motorhome. It was really dirty, but looks quite good right now.

Our neighbors, who also have a Roadtrek, drove up to the Arctic Circle today (just to say they’d been there) and when they got back their dog and Blackie romped around a bit. Blackie enjoyed having a playmate I think.

High: 78
Low: 41

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Day 67, Thu, Aug 9, 2007, Fairbanks, AK

So nice to have sunshine!

This afternoon we took the Riverboat Discovery cruise. According to them, this is the second most popular (behind Mt McKinley) attraction in Alaska. It is a fantastic three and one half hours, we will admit. We especially enjoyed meeting musher Jessica Royer and playing with some of her dogs and getting to chat with her for a few moments.

After the cruise, we drove around some and decided to partake of the Alaska Salmon Bake one more time since we will probably never get the opportunity to do that again. Where else can you get all the prime rib, smoked king salmon, fried halibut, fried cod and even hot dogs you would want? It’s absolutely fantastic.

After the salmon bake we walked around Pioneer Park some more. We took a tour of the S.S. Nenana which is a historical landmark and also experienced minus 40 degree temperatures. Wow is that ever cold! We even got to throw a cup of water into the air while in there and watch it evaporate right before our eyes.

When we got back to the campground, we extended our stay another three days this time. We are waiting for our mail to be forwarded to us here and there are still things to do in Fairbanks.

High temp: 74
Low temp: 40

Pictures: Click here and Click here

Day 66, Wed, Aug 8, 2007, Fairbanks, AK

Today we extended our stay here at the River’s Edge RV Park for two more days. There’s a lot of stuff to do here in Fairbanks.

We found the local Walmart nestled between Lowes and Home Depot. The Walmart is being remodeled, but the storefront is being designed to look like the old trading posts instead of the traditional Walmart storefront. Really neat.

From there we went to the Alaska Pipeline visitor’s center and got a peek at part of the 800 mile long Alaska Pipeline. That was very interesting.

Then we went by the local KFC and got a traditional fried chicken dinner. We had talked about doing that before while up here, but decided then we could get that back home, but by now we were ready for some back home food. It was good for a change.

After that we went out to the house of Mary Shields, the highlight of the day! She is the first woman musher to complete the Iditarod race, which she did in 1974. She much prefers recreational mushing, which she still does to this day. She has a tent with a small wood stove in it and says she is very comfortable in it, even in minus 40 degree weather. Mary Shields is also the very first musher Barbara ever had personal contact with, back in 1996. (Mary had sent Barbara some get well gifts after she had surgery.) Mary put on a sled dog demonstration for the Riverboat cruise which we took in 1993 as part of a cruise tour we did. Barbara has been hooked on sled dogs since then, but the contact in 1996 really started it all. The trip to her home was a very thrilling evening.

High temp: 71
Low temp: 49

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Day 65, Tue, Aug 7, 2007, Fairbanks, AK

Today we found the Fort Wainwright Army base and make a quick stop at the BX to get a few needed items. We had hoped to be able to camp there, but their RV park is under construction, so we are not able to do that. We then drove around the base to see what we could find. They have a new hospital that just opened this summer which is really nice.

Later on we found Pioneer Park where we spend quite a bit of time. We took the train ride around the park which was fun. Then we went into several of the little shops before we found the Alaska Salmon Bake. This is the best place in the world to get all the prime rib, baked king salmon, fried halibut and cod you can eat, along with baked beans, potato salad, bread and salad. It also includes drinks and dessert with coffee. Wow, what a meal!

Sunset: 10:45 PM
Sunrise: 5:10 AM

High temp: 64
Low Temp: 54

Pictures: Click here

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day 64, Mon, Aug 6, 2007, Byers Lake, AK to Fairbanks, AK

Well, we woke up this morning and it wasn’t raining! But within 10 miles after getting underway, we were back in the rain again and it rained on us all day long. What a bummer.We stopped at the Alaska Veteran’s Memorial near the campground we stayed at. It was really neat.We then headed on up the Parks Highway and made a stop at the Denali National Park Visitor’s Center, but due to the rain we didn’t stay very long. We did stop at a souvenir shop or two near there and then headed north again. We stopped in the little town of Nenana and looked around there a little. That was neat.We kept driving and finally stopped at another small place called Ester and ate at the Ester Goldcamp Restaurant. From there we drove on into Fairbanks and found a campground on the Chena River and got a spot for two nights since we need to do some laundry and regrouping. We arrived at the campground around 7:30 PM and called it a day.The temps were ranging from 48 to 51 degrees today. Besides the rain we had a lot of fog the last several miles prior to entering Fairbanks. It was not a fun driving day. It should have been a beautiful drive, but the rain ruined it for us. We still haven’t seen Mt. McKinley (also known as Denali). We know it is there as we saw it during our trip here in 1993 and we also have seen it at each of the four Iditarods we’ve been to in March.

Pictures: Click here

Day 63, Sun, Aug 5, 2007, Willow, AK to Byers Lake, AK

More rain! But we got to visit with our friend Donna Quante, see her new house and pet her dogs. We didn’t get as much time with her as we’d have liked—work always has to come first, and she had her job to get to. We’ve known Donna from her days in Pennsylvania, so it was really great to see her.

We traveled north on the Parks Highway and took the Talkeetna Spur highway (a really nice highway) and drove the 15 miles into Talkeetna. The road dead ends there. We looked at some of the shops, had lunch and then headed back out to the Parks Highway. Of course it rained on us the entire time. Took all the fun out of it.

We finally found the Byers Lake Campground (at the start of the Denali National Park) around 6:30 PM and found a nice spot to spend the night.

The temps hung around 54 degrees today and light rain 99% of the time.

Pictures: Click here

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Day 62, Sat, Aug 4, 2007, Palmer, AK to Willow, AK

We woke up to rain this morning. After checking out of the campground, we went to the Dorothy Page Museum in Wasilla and enjoyed going through that. Then we headed north up the George Parks Highway and stopped at the Transportation Museum. Wow, what a museum. They have trains, planes, cars, trucks, tractors, heavy equipment, snow moving equipment, old machinery, boats, old boat motors and all sorts of stuff. We could have spent a couple of days there. Then we headed on north to Willow, AK, having to put up with rain all day. Checked out a few RV sites and visited with friend Donna Quante at work briefly before settling on Willow Creek RV Resort, on Willow Creek. There are lots of fishermen here, and if it wasn’t raining, we’d enjoy watching them a bit.

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Day 61, Fri, Aug 3, 2007, Palmer, AK

We spent some time in the afternoon at the Friday Flings in Palmer, and then went to the home of Mary and Mike Dillingham. Mary grilled some outstanding steaks for us. After dinner we fed treats to Rivers, their blind sled dog, and the other dogs. With treats, Rivers was soon Barbara’s temporary best friend, and it was such a good feeling for her.

Pictures: Click here

Friday, August 3, 2007

Day 60, Thu, Aug 2, 2007, Anchorage, AK to Palmer, AK

Wow, hard to believe we left home two months ago! If we stick to our somewhat loose schedule, we are about one half way through the trip.

We left Anchorage today and drove to Palmer, AK, about an hour’s drive north. We found a campsite at The Homestead RV Park near Palmer. Then we went to the Reindeer Farm, where we got to hand feed reindeer, a black-tailed deer, who wouldn’t even get up for us, but ate out of our hands, and an elk whom we were told would eat grass out of our hands all day long. The funny thing is, while I was bent over picking grass, the elk tried to eat my sleeve!

After the Reindeer Farm we went to the Musk Ox Farm. We didn’t get to hand feed them, but the tour guide fed them fireweed, a wildflower that’s blooming all over. We learned a lot about the history of musk ox and their personalities—they even have balls that they play with!

This evening we went to the pavilion at our campground where they had square dancing. We thoroughly enjoyed that and it really brought back some good memories from when we were heavily into square dancing 25-30 years ago.

High 63, low 54, very cloudy and some rain showers.

Pictures: Click here

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Day 59, Wed, Aug 1, 2007, Anchorage. AK

Well, we love our little motorhome, but it doesn’t store much so we have to make lots of trips to the store, giving us less time for sightseeing. And if we were gone from home for 2 or 3 weeks we could put off paying bills and doing laundry, but a 4 month trip means we have those chores just as we would at home. Sometimes it seems we’ve spent a lot of time in the Anchorage area doing nothing, but like it or not, it’s time to move on.

We had a delicious Hawaiian dinner tonight with our friend Rosemary then drove to Otter Lake here on Fort Richardson. It’s a recreational area with cute log cabins and a stunning view of the mountains—and a brutal gravel road to get there. But on the way back a black bear crossed the road in front of us! We finally saw one!

High 68, low 54.

Pictures: Click here

Day 58, Tue, Jul 31, 2007, Anchorage, AK

We drove south today to Girdwood, home of Alyeska Ski Resort, and a tiny town. The post office is probably the largest building, and looks new. That’s about as exciting as Girdwood gets, unless we missed something. Oh, there is the little strip shopping center on the main road with a store called the Tourist Trap. At least it’s accurate! And, yes, I bought a few things.

Then we headed to Portage to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a non-profit organization that takes in injured and orphaned animals and provides them homes like they’d have in the wild. And visitors get to see them up close. I (Barbara) even petted a moose’s nose and it’s velvet antlers. We also watched a black bear cub in a tree top trying to take a nap and he couldn’t seem to get comfortable; he kept changing positions. We could have told him he’d have been a lot more comfortable on the ground! His mom was enjoying some salmon. Hopefully we’ll have pictures up soon.

High today 64,low 55.

Pictures: Click here