Monthly Archives: July 2014

Sorry Banff, Denali stole my heart

Denali "Welcome" Sign

Denali “Welcome” Sign

Arrived at one of the most wild and wonderful places I have ever been..Denali National Park and Preserve. The park is the size of the state of Massachusettes (over 6 million acres), and the rugged terrain is unmarred by man. Access around the park is highly restricted with only authorized vehicles being able to travel the roads and NO vehicles of any sort allowed off the road. The vastness and natural beauty is overwhelming, and wildlife runs the show. The “crown jewel” is Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in north America (20,237 feet). The area is very seasonal, but the “characters” who flock there for the summer add a unique/quirky edge to the area. Dad and I fit right in 🙂 See posts on bus trip, flight, and whitewater for pics of park.

Back into the wild

Packing up this morning and heading to Denali National Park for 3 nights of camping. Not sure what Internet connection will be like there, so may be “off the grid” again for a few days. Next stop after that is Anchorage. Will be back in blogging action there.

Our apprehension as international criminals

Picture of Poker Creek, most northerly border port in USA

Poker Creek, most northerly border port in USA

Having heard horror stories about possible delays at the ferry across the Yukon River and crossing the border, Addie and I decided those irritations could be solved just by being first in line. The plan worked perfectly, but when we reached the Yukon Territory-Alaska border, the road was closed for paving.

After waiting an hour-and-a-half, the woman apparently supervising the paving project, said we could proceed, but gave us very explicit instructions as to where to drive. We believed we followed her instructions exactly. Maybe she gave us too much credit, believing we would figure things out as we proceeded.

We drove forward, keeping hard to the left. The only building we saw had Canadian flags on it and was situated such that a vehicle coming from the opposite direction would be on its driver side. We assumed (yeah, I know!), that we would soon come to the U.S. Customs station. We did not! Well, what the Hell, we had crashed the border, but thought we had made a clean getaway. Wrong, again! As we were enjoying a laugh about being international criminals, here a Jeep comes up behind us with multiple flashing blue lights. We decided not to make a run for it in a 6000-pound, diesel pickup truck and immediately pulled over, hands visible on top of the steering wheel. I am convinced the officer enjoyed a sexual rush when, in his most authoritative command voice, he bellowed, “You have entered the United States of America illegally! Return to the checkpoint.”

By the time we got back to the check point, another couple, following the same instructions we had, had done the same thing and been stopped by the senior officer at the checkpoint. Much to the disappointment of the officer who had apprehended us, the senior office recognized it as innocent mistakes and sent us on our way.

Tippy-top of the world

Top of the World Highway

Top of the World Highway

Traveled from Dawson City, Yukon Territory to Alaska via the Top of the World highway. I got to enjoy the spectacular scenery (and crazy drop offs) while Dad (driving) white knuckled it. Think his insistence on driving had something to do with my driving skills, but didn’t mind soaking up the view 🙂 We were sky high and there were no stretches that qualified as straight (or smooth- most of road was unpaved). We had the highway to ourselves, which was great considering the width of the road in places..and that fact that guard rails were non-existent!!

“Cruising” to Alaska

Ferry crossing Yukon River

Ferry crossing Yukon River

We “cruised” across the mighty Yukon River and into Alaska on the one year anniversary of the night we sat at the Mellow Mushroom in Columbia and dreamed up this adventure. I’m sure the novelty wears off quickly if it is part of your daily routine, but I felt like a little kid..ferry rides are fun!

 

A note to my motorcycling friends

Picture of Motorcycles parked in from of a Dawson City hotel

Motorcycles parked in from of a Dawson City hotel

Alaska remains a popular destination for motorcyclists. Many riders are seen everywhere on all kinds of bikes. This is purely anecdotal, but it appears to me that KTM’s have gained disproportionate ground with the adventure tourer crowd. They are prevalent everywhere.

Lowe’s Mortuary, Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Picture of Lowe's Mortuary, Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Lowe’s Mortuary, Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Dawson City was a boomtown during the Klondike gold rush. In fact, that area is responsible for eighty percent of the gold mined in Alaska today.

Though I could not photograph it, so that it could be read, a newspaper article displayed in the window of Lowe’s Mortuary painted a grim picture of conditions in Dawson City during gold rush days.

The attached photo gallery shows several interesting artifacts from that window display including a hearse pulled by sled dogs, a horse-drawn hearse on skis, and an old set of embalming tools.

Knock, knock

Picture of bear buddy

Bear Buddy

Woke up from a quick nap at a rest stop outside Watson Lake to find this cuddley fellow knocking on my door. He wanted to know what was for breakfast 🙂  See Dad’s post about sunshine and bluebirds for why we were “napping” at rest stop.

It cannot all be sunshine and bluebirds

Picture at campground in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

To spend as much time as possible in the places most interesting to us, we included some long days and distances in our itinerary. Banff, Alberta to Dawson Creek, British Columbia and on to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory was one such stretch. Having planned to camp in Watson Lake, we arrived totally exhausted and needed to be rolling EARLY for the run to Dawson City, Yukon Territory.

Besides being too tired to face setting up camp that evening and having the time required to break camp the next morning added to an already long day, we decided to sleep in the truck. This plan was certainly not ideal, but seemed to be the lesser of the evils. In fact, “sleeping” in the truck turned out to be the least of our problems.

To make a long miserable story short, we were consumed, devoured, eaten alive by hordes of voracious mosquitoes! There was no choice, we departed Watson Lake at 3:30 AM. Once we got the truck cleared of mosquitoes and cooled off, life was good except we had had zero sleep after a hard day and another hard day had begun way too early.