Denali, Anchorage, and Seward

An all-day bus tour of Denali National Park was in our schedule today. On it, we saw lots of flowers, wildlife, and of course some awesome scenery. Unfortunately Mt Denali, previously Mt McKinley, spent the entire day hiding in the clouds. The weather was misty, cloudy, and damp but we felt lucky as some people come here and all they get is pouring rain.

How did that mushroom sneak into the flower gallery?

In addition to the caribou, grizzly bear, and grouse above we also saw moose, deer (sorry no pictures) and lots of other small animals.

 

 

Although the day was less than photogenic we had a good time and would highly recommend the Denali tour. After the tour, we took in the visitor center and returned to the hotel for dinner. For the last 2 days of our land tour, we will be traveling by train to Anchorage and then on to Seward where we will board the Westerdam for a 7-day cruise back to Vancouver.

 

 

Some of the Scenery Heading to Anchorage

In Anchorage, we stayed at the Captain Cook Hotel. In the evening we decided to go find some fish & chips for dinner which we did and then returned to our room to rest up for the next day. Since we did not have to leave until after 11 AM we went out to breakfast rather than trying one of the hotel restaurants. After that, we sauntered off to the nearby Saturday craft market which we enjoyed. Then it was time to head to the train for Seward.

The ride to Seward was highlighted by many glaciers and mountain scenes. We saw a number of Dall sheep but I was unable to get any pictures.

Overall the land portion of our trip was something that we will always remember. It was both exhausting and worthwhile. Our Alaska trip would never have felt complete had we simply done the cruise and seen some of the port cities. We will be stopping in numerous port cities on the way back.

Looking forward to some shipboard relaxation,
Your Random Rover, Gordon

Off to Denali

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.

InFairbanks1

Then off to our hotel and  on our own for the afternoon. We shopped the town a little and went to the heritage center.

Moose and cariboo antlers form this arch
Athabaskan Antler Arch

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.

020 RestStop

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.

010ViewFromRoom

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,

Your random rover

From Skagway, AK to Dawson, YT

000Volendam

Volendam in port at Skagway

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.

 

Downtown 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

000WPR

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.

004Creek003Trestle

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.

007MilesCanyon
Miles Canyon

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.

001 Montague
Montague Roadhouse

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.

002 Carmacks
Five Finger Rapids on the Yukon River

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.

006Dawson
Main Street Dawson

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

Cruising to Alaska and The Yukon

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.

On out private balcony

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.
VancouverHarbor

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.
035Galley

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 Seals004Glacier007Glacier

Glaciers

 

Waterfalls

09Cove

 

 

 

 

A ‘Magic’ Cove

008Whales

 And Whales

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

Heading North Summer 2019

Almost Ready To Roll

Pull Slides In, Hitch Up, and Roll Down the Road
A synopsis of our plans

With Tucson temperatures around 107 F every day for the past week it is definitely time to start. It is June 17th, Bertha is ready to go and so are we. Our plans have us leaving on the 19th and traveling less than 300 mile on any given day with a couple of 2 night stops on the way to Spokane WA, our first destination, to see the kids and grands. After leaving Bertha with son John we will head to Port Ludlow WA to spend some time with Brother Phil and his lovely wife.

From there we are off to Vancouver BC where we will embark on a 3 day cruise to Alaska. Off the ship and onto an 8 day land tour of the Yukon Territory and Alaska followed a 7 day cruise back to Vancouver BC where we go back to reality, and start doing some of the daily chores of living again. The first will be driving back to Spokane.

Interesting Note: If I understand correctly, since these are international voyages (Canada/US and US/Canada) we get the privilege of going through customs numerous times. For instance day 1: Canadian customs at border crossing into Canada at Blaine and as the ships destination is Alaska, US Customs before getting onto cruise ship.

We plan to stop on the way back because we figure by the time we clear customs (twice) and actually hit the road it will be mid afternoon. Back in Spokane we will need to quickly reorganize and depart for Heyburn Lake State Park in Idaho where we will be volunteer camp hosts for a little over a month before we even consider heading homeward.

I will post along the way as time and internet connections allow and hope that you will follow along.
Your random rover, Gordon

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