This morning we boarded a chartered jet to fly from Dawson, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska. You guessed it! Once again through customs as we are heading back into the USA. From the airport we took a bus into town and got a short narrated tour of Fairbanks and a stop in downtown for a lunch break where we had ice cream and enjoyed the park.
Then off to our hotel and on our own for the afternoon. We shopped the town a little and went to the heritage center.
Over 100 moose and cariboo antlers form this arch leading into the Morris Thompson Heritage Center. The arch is meant to evoke memories of adventures and times spent together. We spent quite a while touring the excellent exhibits here. Wandered the town a little more, found some local craft beer, and went back to our hotel for dinner.
The next morning it was back on the bus for more adventures.
We stopped and learned a little about the famous Alyeska Pipeline.
Hopped aboard a train of the amusement park variety to go see a gold dredge and then…
Panned for gold! As you can see we did pretty well. (Those little specks add up to about $40 dollars worth!) Back on the bus and on to Anchorage.
This was a nice stop with lots of nice jewelry but didn’t buy any. Back aboard and off to Denali where we will spend 2 nights, our chance to see one of the many wonders of Alaska. We can’t wait to get off the bus and relax but don’t want to miss anything.
This is the view from our hotel room just outside of Denali National Park. We shopped some of the tourist stuff, found some dinner, crashed and got ready for our park tour tomorrow.
Today was one more great thread in our tapestry of adventure, with more to come,
July 13th: We left the Volendam to start our land tour of The Yukon and Alaska. We spent the afternoon and night here in Skagway.
I took these pictures in the very early morning. In season, Skagway is a very busy tourist destination. We shopped and visited various interesting stores and museums here at the start of the gold rush trail.
Steam Engine and Plow
On The WhitePass & Yukon Route
In the morning we rode this narrow gauge railroad up the Chilcoot trail to Fraser crossing into the Yukon Territory.
Steep, Treacherous, And Beautiful
It was much easier for us than it was for the prospectors who carried all their supplies up the trail. It took the earlier travelers up to a week to get this far as they had to move their necessities in stages going up the steep grade. (One ton of equipment, food, and other needs was required by law to head up the trail.) At Fraser, which is near the summit (2,885ft), we cleared Canadian customs and left the train to proceed via tour bus to Carcross, YT.
Carcross, home of the Tagish/Carcross First Nation, was known as Caribou Crossing, YT until 1904 when it was renamed because the Canadian postal system started having miss-delivery problems with Caribou Crossing, BC. We spent a pleasurable hour or so here shopping and stretching our legs before heading on to Whitehorse, YT.
About 10 minutes from Whitehorse we stopped to view Miles Canyon, a basaltic canyon carved by the Yukon river, that when combined with the Whitehorse rapids was a major impediment to travel on the way to the gold fields. I should note that though Whitehorse, the capitol city of the Yukon, has many attractions worth visiting we simply took a short walk through town, did a little shopping, and went out to dinner as I was not feeling well and we were both tired. Tomorrow we are off to the historic town of Dawson, the miner’s gold rush destination.
Our first stop, the remnants of one of the road houses along the Whitehorse/Dawson Overland Trail. The roadhouses and their companion buildings served as shelters, restaurants, and stables for the arduous 6 to 10 day trip. We will make the entire one day in a modern coach. We took a rest stop at the village of Carmacs where we checked out a combination hardware store, gas station, and gift shop. The coffee was ok and we did get to stretch our legs.
We took another break here at the only difficult stretch of water for the miners headed to Dawson. Named Five Fingers because four islands break the river into five channels, four of which can be deadly. Though it looks peaceful in the photo, the currents are powerful and run in multiple directions around the basalt islands.
We had a nice buffet style lunch at a pleasant RV campground on the bank of the river and then headed on toward Dawson City.
This is Moose Creek Lodge, our last place to stretch and relax today.
We finally made it! This was the longest day of the gold rush tour but we will spend 2 nights here and hopefully get a little rest while we do some sightseeing tomorrow. They are still actively mining in this area and there is much history to explore. By the way the highway is the only paved street in town.
The cabins of Robert Service and Jack London
Of course, we shopped the town, and visited some of the museums and visitor centers. Dawson was home to Jack London, famous novelist, short story writer, and chronicler of the gold rush era and also to Robert Service the most famous bard of the period.
Some Sights Of Dawson, YT
Tomorrow we fly to Fairbanks, AK so we get to go through customs again, Yipee!
May all your travels lead to happiness, your Random Rover
We left the USA and entered Canada around 8 AM and drove to Vancouver International Airport where we parked the truck for the duration of our cruise at the long term lot and took the free train ride in to the international terminal. That all sounds good right? Well I forgot to mention that when Elaine stepped onto the train the doors shut behind her. I caught the next train a few minutes later, so we were reunited. Next we found someone to direct us to Holland America check-in where we were able to sign in and get rid of most of our luggage. We then boarded a shuttle bus to take us to our ship at the cruise terminal. Off on our adventure? Well sort of. At the cruise terminal we got our pictures taken and received our ship ID cards. Then we go through US customs. (We are now in Canada and the next time we will be on land it will be in Juneau or Skagway). Now we get in line to board the ship. It is now after 2 PM but we have boarded the Holland America Volendam and are relaxing in our state room. We have traveled less than 50 miles. It took about 6 hours but all is well, just a lot of shuffling which we had expected.
A Pinot Grigio on our private balcony while we watch the activity
It is really amazing the amount of work and coordination required. The Volendam carries over 1400 passengers. She docked the previous night and her passengers debarked this morning. Today she loaded up with another set and will leave this evening. That’s a lot people and baggage to move, countless cabins to clean and set up, plus all drinks, snacks, and meals to get ready.
We are sailing!
This is the first cruise leg of our 3 part Alaska adventure. We will be going up the inside passage, much of it at night unfortunately. When we head back it will be mostly daylight so all is good.
The Crows Nest Bar and the promenade deck
We had a full day at sea so we explored the ship, watched a cooking demonstration, and took a tour of the galley.
Some Pretty Fancy Baking
A nice relaxing day. The next day we transferred to a catamaran for a close up tour of the Tracy Arm Fjord while our ship sailed on to Juneau, AK.
Icebergs and Seals
A ‘Magic’ Cove
Wow! What a day. We rejoined our ship in Juneau for one last night. As we were tired we stayed on ship since we would have another chance to see Juneau on our trip back. Tomorrow we will debark at Skagway and begin our land tour.
Enjoying what life brings us, Your Random Rover, Gordon
Prior to heading off to Alaska and the Yukon Territory we had a few days with our Spokane family (John and Laura and their respective clans) and then a little more time with family in Port Ludlow, WA (Phil and Anette).
For Delaney’s special day we had a patriotic birthday party.
Celebrating Independence Day
Complete with fireworks!
We also had time to help with a few projects. Our time was short, but knew we would be back in Spokane again before heading south for the winter. With cruise embarkation getting emanate we left Bertha (our 5th wheel) at John’s and headed west over the Snoqualmie Pass and across Puget Sound to visit with brother Phil and sister-in-law Anette.
We had a wonderful time catching up with some of Phil’s clan. There are no better hosts anywhere. We were able to go out crabbing twice and of course that meant that we gorged multiple times on the best of all the crustaceans.
All too soon it was time to move on again. So we went off on another Washington State Ferry to Whidbey Island and then north to Birch Bay for a last night in the USA before departing from Vancouver, BC.
I have been remiss not posting until now, but there are so many pictures to go through and remembered events to put in order. I am working on posts about our cruise north , our land and air travels through the Yukon Territory and Alaska, and finally our cruise back south.