Showing posts from June, 2009

June 30, 2009

We retired one year ago today – the past year has really gone by fast and we have put a few miles on the rig. We have really enjoyed ourselves and have decided retiring was the right thing to do.
Today was a nice, warm sunny day. We went to the University of Alaska Large Animal Research Station where they study musk ox, caribou and reindeer to see how they survive and thrive in the far north. Research is conducted in nutrition, metabolic, physiological and behavioral studies. Again we saw captive caribou – we are still hoping to see some in the wild. We found out that caribou and reindeer are the same species – the difference is that reindeer are domesticated. Because reindeer were domesticated for a food source, they have evolved with shorter legs and larger bodies than caribou. These are caribou.
We were surprised that the musk ox were so small – only about 4 ft tall at the shoulder. Some of them had holes in their sides so researchers can watch their digestive process (like they do …

June 29, 2009

We woke up to a foggy, cloudy morning but by noon the sun peeking through the clouds. We took a cruise on the Riverboat Discovery III and about halfway through the cruise the sun came out and it was a great afternoon. This boat is a little bigger than the one Rex works on in Arizona (280 tons with a passenger capacity of 900). It is owned by a family that has been in the riverboat business in one form or another for over 100 years.

We cruised past the Discovery I and II.

Once we got under way on the Chena River a bush pilot gave a demonstration with his float plane. He took off and landed next to the boat. It was exciting to see this so close to the action.

We then stopped by Trail Breaker Kennels, owned by the late Susan Butcher and her husband, Dave Monson. Susan won the Iditarod Dog Sled Race 4 times and led the only climbing party to conquer Denali (Mt. McKinley) by dog team. She was stricken with leukemia and passed away in 2006. Dave gave us a great demonstration on how they train…

June 28, 2009

It rained hard again today so we went to Santa Land in North Pole. This is a huge Christmas store that has everything Christmas. We didn’t get to see Santa because he takes Sunday and Monday off, but we did see some of his reindeer.

June 27, 2009

We visited the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks. It is a very nice museum showing the culture and art of Alaska. We watched a couple of films – one about the science behind the northern lights and the other about spending the winter in Fairbanks. We decided that spending the winter in Arizona is more to our taste even though Arizona does not have northern lights. We found this caribou and Rex decided to take it’s picture as it seems this is the only one we will see.

June 25-26, 2009

We visited Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, originally built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia, today it is an historical site and community park. There are a number of museums, historical displays, a small train and playground, and a lot of small shops housed in original logs cabins from around the state. In the Railroad Museum Rex spoke with the fireman for the steam locomotive and he told us they will be running it on July 4th so….,of course, we will be back to see it.

They have restored the sternwheeler Nenana which was part of the Yukon River Fleet.

This is a snow tractor that was used to haul sleds loaded with fuel for one of the flying expeditions in the arctic. Evidently, the snow tractor was not a huge success and was not used much.

We drove North of Fairbanks to where a section of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline is close to the road. There is a visitor area with some displays about the pipeline and you are able to walk under the pipeline.

The ca…

June 24, 2009

It rained all night and was still raining when we got up this morning. We drove the Richardson Highway to North Pole, AK but were not able to see any vistas because the cloud cover was so low. It rained most of the day. We are staying at The Riverview RV Park about halfway between North Pole and Fairbanks on the Chena River - they have very interesting planters!

The interior of Alaska has gotten so much rain the past few days that many of the rivers are on flood watch. The Chena is very full and the current is really fast but they do not expect it to flood. We are going to stay here for a while and tour around Fairbanks and North Pole – maybe even see Santa in North Pole!

June 22-23, 2009

June 22 - Delta Junction, AK

Here we are at the end marker for the Alaska Highway (mile 1422). We also found some of those big Alaskan skeeters.

We toured the Sullivan Roadhouse Historical Museum. The roadhouse, built in 1905, served travelers on the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail and is the oldest roadhouse in the interior of Alaska. The 371 mile trip from Valdez to Fairbanks could take up to 2 weeks by stage (sleigh in winter) and roadhouses were spaced a day’s travel apart.

We drove South of Delta Junction and found an overlook where we could get a fairly good picture of the Alaska Range even though it was cloudy.

We also toured Rika’s Roadhouse, which is in the Big Delta State Historical Park. The restored roadhouse was built in 1910 and also served travelers on the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail. Rika was from Sweden and worked for the owner who was away most of the time. He finally owed Rika so much in back wages that he deeded the property over to her. There was also a barn and some other outbuild…

June 21, 2009

We continued on the Alaska Highway to Delta Junction – we saw one moose but didn’t get a picture as she ran into the trees as soon as we got close. We are still waiting to see our first caribou. Delta Junction is the end of the 1422 mile Alaska Highway. We have driven all of the Alaska Highway but 383 miles between Whitehorse and Tetlin Junction and we will catch that section on our way back through. We are staying at Smith’s Green Acres RV Park for a few days.

June 18-20, 2009

We went on a tour of the old town of chicken this morning. The story is - early miners named the town Ptarmigan but when they were getting a post office no one knew how to spell it. Consequently, someone suggested “Chicken” for the town name and it stuck. We saw some old buildings and cabins built in the 1890’s and some newer ones built by the dredge company in the 1950’s.

We headed South on the Taylor Highway – the pavement started 2 miles South of Chicken. Even though the road was paved it was still pretty rough with a lot of frost heaves and gravel stretches. We drove through a huge burn area. In the summer of 2004 a fire burned 1.3 million acres and closed the Taylor Highway for several days. . There was a total of 6.5 million acres burned in Alaska that year. They tell us that the blueberries are wonderful here in August.

It was rainy and overcast so we didn’t have good views of the scenery. We reconnected with the Alaskan Highway again just before reaching Tok. We are staying at t…

June 17, 2009

We left Dawson City by crossing the Yukon River on the George Black Ferry. It was quite an experience.

We climbed for a long time getting out of the Yukon River valley on the Top of the World Highway. Now it is called a highway but there is very little blacktop – most of it is a rough gravel road. The going was slow – it took us about almost 5 hours to drive 108 miles, but the scenery was spectacular.

Yukon River

Here we are at the Alaskan border – this picture was taken by the tour guide for a bus load of tourists from England, Scotland and Ireland. A couple from Gloucester was very interested in our rig and said a rig this big would not be allowed on the roads in England. They took a picture as their brother has the biggest rig in their family and is always bragging about it. They wanted to show him what a big rig really looked like. They were amazed that we are living in our 5th wheel.

The Top of the World Highway joins the Taylor Highway shortly after the border. We finally made it to…

June 15-16, 2009 - Dawson City, YK

June 15

We drove up Bonanza Creek South of Dawson City and saw the Discovery Mine – where gold was first discovered in the Klondike.

We then toured Dredge No. 4 – a Canada national historic site. It is the largest wooden hulled, bucket line dredge in North America. It ceased operating in 1960 when it sunk into the silt and mud of Bonanza Creek. In the early 1990’s Parks Canada recovered it and began restoring it.

We toured the Robert Service cabin. Robert Service was a renowned poet and Canada’s “bard of the Yukon”. His most famous poems are “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. Parks Canada held a talk about him and a reading of some of his poetry. He was quite a colorful character and we enjoyed the talk very much.

Down the road a couple of blocks was Jack London’s cabin and interpretative center. Jack London wrote Call of the Wild, White Fang and many other stories. An interpreter told us about his life and his journey to the Klondike during the gold rush days.…