Monday, July 31, 2006

Alaska Day 75

Saturday July 29, 2006 Paradise MT to Grand Coulee WA Log
A pretty drive today shows us lots of places to fish, and Bob tries his luck at one. It was quite a challenge to work his way down the precarious rocks on the banks, but he makes it and enjoys casting for a time. Only his need to find a campground for the night tears him away.

We cross Idaho with no luck on reservations, but do see a Wal-mart truck and a Mcdonald's truck -- strange things seen under the daylight sun!

At Fairchild AFB we saw an air show with spectacular vapor trail formations. Five planes. What precision!

Lots of flat land, valleys, and farming. The wheat fields are beautiful, and we keep looking for crop circles.....Miles and miles of "amber (or wheat colored) waves of grain." We begin to then see scrub bushes and lava rock, which surprises us. Then more lava, hillsides of lava and the terrain turn to mountainous and desert.

Our accomodations for the night are at Grand Coolee RV Park in Washington near the intersection of 174 and 155 and Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, and the largest hydroelectric dam in the US.

Our site is on the side of the arid mountain, at the top of the park, with West Texas type scrub brush all around. Our neighbors are Bill and Lois Keller, Escapees (Livingston TX), so we get the tradition hug and feel right at home. They leave all too soon, possibly for their place on Lake Mead NV.

Dinner is the long awaited steak with trimmings

Pictures are here.


Walldog, Willie and Jake

Alaska Day 76

Sunday July 30, 2006 Grand Coolee WA Log 0 Miles
We visit St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Grand Coolee, and following "coffee hour," we are invited to go out for breakfast, but Bob has already invited us for his special vegetable soup and cornbread, and Wilma never turns down hot buttered cornbread, so we regretfully decline. St. Dunstan's is a small mission, and the Vicar is the lady in the pictures whose dress has some red. We learned a bit of their history during the coffee, and they asked us "20 questions" about the different churches we had visited during our Alaska and Canada travels, which we enjoyed sharing.

In the afternoon we drove to the Grand Coolee Dam, which is the largest concrete structure in the United States. We took a tour of the Visitors' Center, which is to be the site of a laser light show at dusk (10 P). A very interesting exhibit was a mock telling the story of making and using electricity, with a generator leading to the switching house (stepping up the voltage for traveling) to the transmission lines to the transformers (stepping down the voltage for consumer use) for homes. We saw the lasers which would be used in the evening show.

Dinner was at a recommended local Mexican restaurant, with some different menu items, and then back to the RV for our warm coats, blankets and lawn chairs. We find a front row spot for the laser light show, and sit back while an amazing show is given. It tells the story (audio included) of the building of the dam and its uses. One impressive part was Neil Diamond's song about coming to America, which indicated how important this dam is to the northwestern part of America.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Alaska Day 74

Friday July 28, 2006 St. Mary MT to Paradise MT Log 226 Miles
Upon rising today we notice that our twenty something tents of young church group people are packing it up. Herb sees one young lady with a suitcase bigger than herself, and guesses it contains all her stuff and makeup.

As we head out from the KOA, --Yea! we find a Wal-mart, but with only a grocery shelf, but then a Smith's Food Store with fresh veggies and meats. Nice to be fully stocked after the scant supplies we found around Glacier area. We drive through more scenic countryside and are disappointed that Flathead Lake RV Resort is booked for the weekend, so we drive on in search of a place to stay for the night. At just about the time we should stop anywhere, we find a large turnout with running water at Paradise, northwest of Missoula. A man has stopped to fill his jugs. Herb asks what the deal is, and is told it is an artesian well. Many locals stop -- about every ten minutes -- and some with five gallon containers, some load their vehicles with all it will hold. Depends on who you ask, where the water comes from. Some say it is runoff from a mountain stream. One lady said said she had it tested and they found E-coli, but she allowed as to how her jug may have been contaminated. No-one in the town gets sick. The water is cold, and if you put your foot into the flow, you will get "cold feet."

We filled our pitchers and jugs and Jake's water bowl. After dinner, it seemed like a good idea to wash the RV, so we did. Mountain water should cure any ails the coach has! By this time we have noticed the railroad tracks twelve feet from our RV, and we laugh about whether we will get a good nice sleep. Herb and Bob test it by watching the first train go by, and hoping that this is not a whistle place. The engineer waves, passes by, we sigh relief, and then comes the whistle for the crossing ahead of him.

We slept well.

Pictures are here

Walldog, Willie and Jake


Alaska Day 73

Thursday July 27, 2006 St. Mary MT Log 0 Miles
Jake had an early morning walk, romp, and swim with Willie and then we said goodbuy to Bobbie, Duff and Willie, as they left for Colorado. The rest of the day consisted of a nice lunch with strawberry/rhubarb pie a la mode, naps, windshield washing, haircuts and dinner.

Wilma is excited about the ficus cutting she brought along the trip, and can see the difference in the growth pattern with Longview daylight hours versus the 18 hour sunlight of Alaska. Now there are tiny limbs sprouting with tiny leaves emerging on them. Miracle!

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Alaska Day 72

Wednesday July 26, 2006 St. Mary Montana Log 0 Miles
A trip through Glacier National Park was to begin the day for us with Bob and Myrna, and took us to some awesome waterfalls, rapids, and beautiful rock formations. The Jackson Glacier has retreated until almost not much to see, but there was still lots of snow around.

Altho we did not get to do our walk for exercise early in the morning, (wanting to beat the tourist crowd), Wilma and Myrna got theirs big time, as every time we drove on the mountain where the cliff was on Myrna's side, she literally leaned into Wilma's lap (afraid of heights, eh?), so Wilma offered to change sides of the car with her. This happened time and time again.

Herb tried to reassure her that she was not in danger, and that even if she were on the rock side of the road and the car went over the cliff, her side of the car would go over also. :):) She did not think that scientific fact figured into her emtions here. We had a lot of fun at her expense, but she is a trooper and still contributed to cooking supper in the evening.

As we were driving home, and Wilma was dosiing, Herb yelled, "Look!" and she woke just knowing that was a black bear that she should photograph. But he had seen our friends from PA that we met in Homer AK -- Bobbi and Duff Chambers and Australian Shepherd Willie. He made a U-turn and we chased them down, persuaded them to return with us and spend a night at the KOA. While we briefly caught up on happenings since we had seen them, Jake and Willie ran and tumbled.

Later, we and the Chambers took a walk down to the stream that feeds St. Mary Lake to let Jake and Willie sit in the water to drink, retrieve the stick and negotiate the weir dam. We were surprised to see that they became very competitive for the stick.

Dinner was fresh sweet peas Bobbi and Duff had just got in Canada (and customs was not interested in), parsleyed new potatoes that Myrna fixed, and halibut Herb caught in Homer. Dessert was Myrna's special recipe of jello with yogurt, topped with Wilma's almonds and whipped cream from Texas, and Okanagan cherries from Canada .

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Alaska Day 71


Tuesday July 25, 2006 Snookumchuck, BC to St. Marys, MT Log 227 Miles

We stopped for diesel in the community of Crowsnest Pass, where an old settler welcomed us and informed us of a sight we should not miss just up the road. Frank Slide was a rock slide in 1903, when a wedge of limestone 1 kilometer wide, 425 meters long and 150 meters deep broke of the crest of Turtle Mountain, and boulders bounced and rolled down the side for 90 seconds. The sound was heard for miles around, and many of the 600 residents of the coal mining town lost their lives. The night shift mine workers were able to tunnel their way out, after the slide closed off the opeing of the mine.

The highway took us up to 5000 feet at Waterton National Park in Alberta, and we also came through quite a bit of rolling hills and farming country.

Then back into the Lower 48 and good ole USA (eh). One of the border crossing officials at Chief Mountain, Highway 6 Canada and 17 USA, was originally from Abilene. Back to cell phone service and our own 24/7 rolling-down-the-highway internet. Our home for the evening is the KOA just outside of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, where we look forward to meeting up with Bob and Myrna, our Longview neighbors. Bob had made our reservation there because they had cabins for them, and we noticed how cute the cabins are when we drove in.

Wilma is surprised that she is given a site in the middle of the row, and not at the end near a cabin. Upon inquiring where her friends are, she is told they are in the site next to hers; "no, they are staying in a cabin." "They are in a site just like yours." At this point, Wilma does not feel she should argue with the clerk, so she goes back to the RV and tells Herb about the conversation. We have exactly three minutes to decide:

(a) The clerk's computer is wrong.

(b) Bob does not want to stay too near Herb.

(c) Bob-full-of-surprises rented a motor home.

(d) Bob-full-of-surprises bought a motor home.

When we drive into our site, we see Texas plates on the motor home next to us, and then we look for Myrna's black car -- and there it is! We quickly agree that when we hug hello, we will not act like anything is different or unexpected, that it is normal to have our neighbors in a motor home. We want to ignore Bob's surprise. But that doesn't last long, and we have a good laugh over his secret that David and Patti (other Longview neighbors) kept from us. A nice dinner together in the evening.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Alaska Day 70

Monday July 24, 2006 Columbia Icefields Jasper Park, Alberta to Snookumchuck, BC Log 218 Miles
We woke to whistling wind, a little rain, one lightning flash, but soon the sun was out. We said goodbye to the glacier and settled in to looking for wildlife along the highway. Then we saw two mountain goats grazing on a steep hill by the road. Farther on, Herb topped a hill doing about 50 mph and saw several cars and a couple of campers parked on both side3s of the road -- not entirely off the roadway -- but one after another a car would pull back onto the road into the oncoming lane. It was not safe for a vehicle our size to stop on the side, and we knew why they stopped -- the bear cub!

Our plan was to check out Lake Louise before we left the Icefields Parkway, but once we had turned into the town, we knew it was a mistake. Traffic congestion in a tiny touristy town, so we made a U-turn and continued our trip. 93 South proved to be a most beautiful drive. We had a wild ride down into the town of Radium Hot Springs, beginning with several warnings of 8% or 9% grade one right after the other, and then right in the middle to town it began 11% grade. Fantastic! No pictures of it here, as Wilma was too busy videoing, Herb was busy guiding the RV, and Jake was in a deep sleep.

We found a "mom and pop" campground, Springbrook Motel and RV Park, in Skookumchuck that had WiFi, the lack of which we were suffering, so we spent most of the evening doing laundry and catching up on correspondence. No cell phone service yet. Full hookups and Wi-Fi $25cdn. What a deal. We even washed the Jeep, as they needed the water for the grass.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Alaska Day 67-68-69

Friday July 21, 2006 Eastman Creek Rest Area Cassiar Highway BC to Hyder Alaska Log 160 Miles plus 65 miles for Jeep road at Hyder.
Scenic vista overload today. The last 150 miles of the Cassiar Highway more than offset the first 200 miles of rough and broken road. What fantastic views! Even with the low overcast day, we had great scenery. Breaks in the clouds gave us a sneak preview of what was to come.

At Camp Run-a-Muck where we stopped for the night, we were given a map and info brochure on Fish Creek Bear Watch and Salmon Glacier, and we headed up Salmon River Road with anticipation. It was too early for the bear fishing, so we drove north. Salmon Glacier is the fifth largest in Canada and seemed to go on forever, with its two toes. The dark edges on either side that curves along with it are moraines, which are formed with silt being carried along. On the far side, as we drove past, we saw crevices, some of which were filled with snow. Then we saw blocks of ice and the remnant of a pond that nine days earlier was quite large, but drained when some ice blocks broke away. Keith Scott from New Brunswick, author and photographer, told us we could drive a maintained road for seven more miles and see the Berendon Glacier, which seemed to be formed from two split sources. Both were beautifully blue!

Along the way we saw a few eagles, and at one point when Wilma had stepped out of the jeep to film, a marmot whistled at her to move along. So she turned around and videod him. Back to Fish Creek to wait for the bear fishing, and we enjoyed seeing a few salmon making their nests for spawning. All of a sudden there was the grizzly! It was a young one, who was not skilled in fishing yet, and put on quite a show while he dipped for fish and ran down the middle of the creek. What a time to run out of battery in both cameras!

At 9:00 P we go back with good batteries and stay until the Rangers close the area at 10 P. On the mile long drive back to the RV park, we become part of a traffic jam, as someone sees a black bear chowing down on fish in a wide, shallow place in Salmon River, where we have to peer through some brush. We stay a few minutes just enjoying his activity and are able to get a zoomed photo. What a thrill!

Roxie, just so you will know, we took the bear spray with us everywhere we went the entire time we were in Hyder -- so did almost everyone else! -- and we were glad we did.

Pictures are here.

Waldog, Willie and Jake

Saturday July 22, 2006 Hyder AK to Prince George BC Log 438 Miles
Up early in the morning to head back to Fish Creek for bear viewing, Herb walks Jake in the campground, but comes back to the RV for a Necessary Bag, and tells Jake to sit obediently by the steps. Wilma happens to glance to the front windshield and sees something black about two camp sites over by the edge of the woods. Coal black. There is no human clothing that black. She knows what it is! Where is that fully charged camera???

We head down to Fish Creek, but the salmon are few this morning and apparently the bears are resting. We decide to leave Hyder and head farther south, totally happy with having seen bears a number of times, only to see the top of a black bear's head in the bushes by the roadside, and then another as we traveled on the highway back in BC. Mission accomplished!

As we got farther south and west the countryside became more flat, with rolling hills, farmland, and forest products industries. Not the same scenery as we had been having, but pleasant to the eye. Disturbing was the number of dead trees -- sometimes two or three, sometimes total hillsides -- that may have become infested with pine bark beetle.

We are stopped by a flagger with her sign out saying accident scene. She tells us it will be a wait while they try to upright a motorhome that appears to have run off the road. They tried for about 30 or 40 minutes while we are there without success. They finally took a break and let us pass. It was 90 degrees F ambient temp. When we stopped for the night at Wal-mart the low temp was 70. What is happening here? We awake in the middle of the night and it is DARK. We have not seen darkness since we left High River Alberta nearly two months ago. Wilma said she was afraid of the dark.<grin>.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday July 23, 2006 Prince George BC to Columbia Icefields Jasper Park, Alberta Log 306 Miles

Climbing a steep grade yesterday we notice the low coolant warning came on. It went right back off when we attained the grade. So Herb checked the coolant and found that it was up to level so must have just been the angle of climb for the sensor. Herb cleaned about a quarter cup of dirt from the the new air filter, we should not have to replace it again this trip. A check of the oil level and tires and we are ready to roll.

Leaving Prince George, we cross the Fraser river, one of several crossings we will make today as we travel along its length to its head waters near the Jasper Icefields Parkway. Michner's fictional Englishmen in his novel "Journey" traveled the Fraser after starting to the Klondike from Edmonton. We enter the Jasper National Park on the East Yellowhead Highway. Our fee is $15.30 cdn. At the park highway intersection, we turn north into the historic town of Jasper for diesel. Very crowded, very congested and tight turns to get to the pumps. Wilma gets down from the coach and locates the diesel lanes while Herb threads through the obstacles.

Lunch is at Slim Creek Rest Area along the Fraser River, where Jake plays retrieve the stick in the river, and burns off some energy. Then burns more as he dries off. Interpretive panels tell of the mountain pine beetle infestation, and that it is a natural order of things, but currently it is considered a massive epidemic. The forest industry does salvage much of the timber by harvesting it as soon as it dies, then seedlings are planted to renew the forest. Driving on, we see a new-to-us purple flower and cotton grass along the highway.

We leave the rolling hills and haymeadows to enter the Canadian Rockies and unbelievable mountains again. We see a white mountain goat near the highway, and Herb gets a quick glimpse of a moose in a pond out the side window.

We arrive at the large rv parking lot in view of the glaciers at Columbia Icefields. The park allows overflow dry camping here. We circle the lot until we find a spot that is level enough for us to set up and we are home. Our backyard has a fantastic view tonight.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Monday, July 24, 2006

Alaska Day 65-66

Wednesday July 19, 2006 Whitehorse Yukon to Turnout Mile 706 Alaska Highway Yukon Log 200 Miles

We spend the morning getting ready to move. We use the internet connection at Rick's All Day Grill to return phone calls and clear up our emails. We are hooked up and in the parking lot of the post office by 3 PM. The clerk asked us to wait until about 4 PM to see if our mail arrives with the airmail delivery. It does not, so we leave instructions to "Return to Sender," as the song says (Escapees in Livingston), "Addressee gone South." We will have it sent later to us in the US where it does not have to clear customs to get to us.

We say goodbye to Whitehorse and head south down the Alaska highway, traveling out on a section that we traveled in on nearly two months ago. Compared to some of the roads we have been on recently, we marvel at how smooth the coach is riding.

Our turnout and home for the evening is just inside the Yukon on the British Columbia-Yukon border. Our neighbors for the night are a motorhome and a small fifth wheel. We have a long cleared vista ahead of us as we set up for the evening. We just know that we will see some wildlife at this location during the evening or early in the morning. We do not.

The sun set at the position of 7 on the virtual clock, and appeared in the morning at the 10 o'clock position. Small arc, even as far south (relatively speaking) that we are.

Pictures are here.

Thursday July 20, 2006 Turnout Mile 706 Alaska Highway Yukon to Eastman Creek Rest Area Cassiar Highway BC Log 343 Miles

We begin our day about 68 miles from the north end of the Cassiar Highway. We stop at Beaver Dam Lodge just before the Highway intersection and find a wi-fi to check our phone calls and emails. At the intersection of the Cassiar we plan to fill up with diesel. The station here is closed and out of diesel. Rather than start the Cassiar with only a half a tank, we elect to detour 14 miles to Watson Lake so we can start this highway with a full tank of diesel. We pay $1.189 Canadian per litre. Roughly translated, that works out to just over $5.00 US per gallon. The most we paid so far has been at Dawson City, $1.299 Canadian per litre. Even so, we are still spending less than a nice cruise would cost, we have Jake with us, we get to see the Interior, and look how many days we have been exploring this beautiful country.

Having left early in the morning, we see some beautiful sunrise scenes, and one of the interesting ones is the pink of the sky reflected in the shiny treads of the highway.

With a full tank of diesel, we return to the J-37 and head south. Almost immediately, Herb spots a large black bear starting across the highway from our right. The bear sees the coach and reverses direction. Wilma misses her first photo op of the day. Bummer. Since we had just left the intersection, she really thought Herb was making a joke, and looked at him incredulously, rather than to where he was looking. Shortly afterward, we both see a grizzly, medium size, on the left. We are passed too quickly to get a photo, but are able to stop, where Wilma steps out onto the steps to get a shot behind us. (He was the exact color of the two cubs she dreamed about last night. The cubs were very friendly, and one of our grandchildren was carrying one around.)

We began to see a little snow on the mountain peaks, and read our altitude at Gnat Pass at 4004 feet. We drove about ten hours today, averaged around 30 mph, and the slowest we went was 15. There were several gravel sections -- washboard not as bad as Destruction Bay area -- but slow going. We think the worst was the quick breaks in the pavement where they had replaced a culvert, but not re-laid the seal coat, yet.

We checked out Kinaskan Provincial Park, which was treed, by the Kinaskan Lake, but there were no pull-throughs available, and we were feeling lazy. A good night's rest at Eastman, but no grizzlies seen. The creek was named for George Eastman, of Kodak fame, who hunted big game here before the road was built.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Alaska Day 64

Tuesday July 18, 2006 Whitehorse Log 0 Miles

No mail again today; Canada Customs can be unpredictable, we are told. Ricky's All Day Grill (with WiFi for customers) has become our Home Office and it seems we do spend all day there. It will be good to be back in regular communications soon.

Lunch was at Klondike Ribs and Salmon, where we had a terrific halibut chowder, read a bit more on the behinds the scenes of Robert Service's writing, and the his and hers were labeled Sourdough and Sweetdough.

Our neighbor left his RV and drove to Skagway for the day, and we began to hope it was just for the day, as his alarm system sounded about every hour. We were afraid he would find out that Skagway was interesting enough to spend several days there, as we did.

Our hearts are heavy as we learn of the passing of Wilma's brother-in-law, Louie, and we praise God for his life, his life in the Lord, and that we were able to share it.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Alaska Day 63

Monday July 17, 2006 Whitehorse Log 0 Miles
The Post Office opens at 8:30 AM, so we make a trip to see if our mail has arrived. The clerk tells us that there will be a delivery from the airport at 2:30, so we can check back at 3:30 to see if ours has arrived.

We say goodbye to Dan and Sylvia as they head to Skagway. We finally wash the Discovery and tank up on fresh water for another stay at Wal-mart.

3:30 PM and still no mail, we are told that it may take some time for it clear customs. We take a long walk down the river trail by the Yukon, which we learn is part of the Trans Canada Trail. We take Jake back home and pass by the library, where he is invited in. While we were on the south end of the park, it rained at the north end where we live, and we come upon a double rainbow. Then over to Ricky's cafe for a glass of wine and use his wi-fi to check our emails and voice mails.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake




Monday, July 17, 2006

Alaska Day 62

Sunday July 16, 2006 Dawson City Yukon Territory to Whitehorse Log 336 Miles
We attended St. Paul's Anglican Church, as did many other tourists, and the owner of the Gold Rush RV Park, where we are staying. We learned that one of the members, a former First Nation Chief, witnesses to the First Nation people on the street. The Doxology was printed in the bulletin in both English and Han, and the people sang in each language.
Near the center of the room was a very large wood burning stove and a cord of wood. It was explained that because of insulation in the very old original building, most of the winter services are held in the chapel next door. Only special services are held in the main building, and then the fire has to be started the day before to "get it jumping!"
Where is the camera when you need it? A pair of moose were in a mud puddle on the side of the road just as we left Dawson City. We passed them too quickly. We met about 26 -- at least -- RVs coming into Dawson in a caravan, and unfortunately it was on the gravel section of the road and pretty dusty.
Just after we left Penny's Place at Pelly Crossing, Wilma saw a bear cub on the bank of the ditch, with a cat of some type (lynx maybe?) lying at the edge of the clearing just a few feet from the cub. Was the mama bear calling the cub away from danger? Or was it a kitten lynx playing with the cub?
Later in the afternoon we notice a pickup truck pulling a boat pull out from the landing at Fox Lake. He went across the highway in front of us and we assumed he went into another road. Wrong, he went directly into the ditch and did not stop he turned left as he intended and came back up on the road heading toward us. As he jerked onto the pavement, his boat came off the trailer and landed upside down on the edge of the road. I honked my horn at him, but he continued on with his empty boat trailer. I guess Sunday afternoon at the lake, he just had too many "Artic Reds".
Our friends Dan and Silvia Gore caught up with us at Fox Lake Burn and we continued together on into Whitehorse. We enjoyed happy hour and dinner with them. Although Dan enjoyed Jake, he missed Retta, his well trained Lab (Loretta Lynn) he left in Mississippi. Their Yorkie, Annabelle, was quite pleasant to everyone except Jake.
Walldog, Willie and Jake

Alaska Day 61

Saturday July 15, 2006 Dawson City Yukon Territory Log 0 Miles
The Danoja Zho Cultural Centre has a beautiful display of artifacts and descriptions of their way of life. It was interesting to read comments from modern day First Nation people about their recent history.

In the RV park we found the BC family we had briefly met in Whitehorse a few days ago, and had a chance to visit more. Willis lives in the Cayman Islands, his sister Cheryl lives in Coquitlam BC, his son and wife Cynthia (Rico), who is originally from Costa Rico, live in Vancouver. Cheryl, who has traveled extensively most of her life, shared a bit about her experiences, which included trips to Thailand and China, as well as the western hemisphere.

We also met briefly our next-door neighbor in the park, Dan Gore, who is from Mississippi, and had noticed our Texas license plate. He tells us he is not related to the Democrat.

We departed from the culture of the area and had a candlelight dinner at Mama Cita's Ristorante, with a steak pasta dish (pronouncing it pass-tuh instead of pah-sta). Then dipped ice cream for dessert at a shop on Front Street in still broad daylight.

We are saddened today to learn that Wilma's brother-in-law, Louie, (husband of her sister Meryl) had a serious accident at home, where he fell, and is in a coma. We are asking prayer for him and the family as he is being treated at Hermann Hospital in Houston.
Walldog, Willie and Jake

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Alaska Day 60

Friday July 14, 2006 Dawson City Yukon Territory Log 0 Miles
Dateline Gold Rush Campground Dawson City's only downtown RV park. Today we seek our fortune. First we head up to the Midnight Dome on the hills above Dawson. About half way up, we encounter road construction. The flagger gives us two choices. One we can wait for the pilot car and he will thread us through the hot oil mix and we can go to the top. Or two we can come back after 3pm and it will all be finished. Since Herb had just washed the Jeep, it was obvious we would take option #2 and return later in the day.

Back into Dawson to pick up supplies for our gold mining trip. We find a shovel and two pans at the outfitters on Front Street. The shovel is very much like one we sold in a garage sale for a few pennies. We paid a little more than a few pennies for the shovel and pans.

Our main reason for coming to Dawson is the history. So much happened here in a short period of time affecting so many people. We head up Bonanza creek, originally named Rabbit Creek. This is where Tagish Charlie stakes the Discovery Claim and starts the stampede that brings over 40,000 souls into this area within two years. Tagish Charlie and George Carmack, prospect Rabbit Creek on the advice of Robert Henderson. Carmack has a native American wife and is traveling with his two brothers-in-law. Henderson disapproves of Carmack's companions and states that if Carmack should find gold, the Indians should not stake claims and that Carmack should let him know what he finds. Short story - Carmack does not like Henderson's racist attitude, he finds gold and does not let him know of it. So Henderson misses out on the greatest find of the century.

Yukon Territory has acquired Claim 6 Above the Discovery claim and reserves it for public use. This is where we prospect. Herb thinks he remembers reading in Pierre Berton's book "Klondike Fever" that 6 Above was really a worthless claim. So I guess you get what you pay for. We do find a small amount of "color" and zip it up for our heirs. Jake has a great time helping the prospectors in the creek.

After a nice lunch at Sourdough Joe's back in Dawson, we head back up to the Midnight Dome. A nice smooth road greets us all the way to the top. We meet some RVers and one of them tells Herb that it took him 6 hours to traverse the "Top of the World" highway from Chicken Alaska to Dawson. He said that at one point he was going so slow that his speedometer was only registering zero. His wife told him to slow down. Herb told him that it took us 6 DAYS to get from Chicken to Dawson, as we went the long way around Tok to Whitehorse to Dawson.

We then go back to the Front street park by the Yukon to get some exercise and let Jake work off some energy. There is a ferry coming in from the Top of the World Highway, so we head there to see who comes over. A car and a truck. Not the peak hours. All four wheels of the vehicles are rolling. They must have gone slow, or changed their flats prior to boarding the ferry.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake



Friday, July 14, 2006

Alaska Day 59

Thursday July 13, 2006 Mile J 116.3 Klondike Loop to Dawson City Log 209 Miles
We awake to find that we have two neighbors at this pullout. A small car with the occupants in a tent just off the parking area and a van camper behind us. We breakfast, walk Jake and leave before either neighbor stirs.

It is mostly a good highway, Ann Scott, and it is interesting to see the piles of logs ready to be burned, and some evidence of piles that have been burned. No termites to return them to dust? We saw lots of white ash in the ditch of the road cuts, and understand that there is no data to support major volcanic activitiy, and it is assumed that there may have been one great spew.

As we enter Dawson City, we see hill after hill of rocks piled up, with small ponds, trenches or canals interspersed. These are the tailings after mining the gold. There are dredges along the way for digging. Dawson City is 165 miles south of the Artic Circle and Wilma says "That is as close as we are going to get this week, Meryl."

Jake is welcomed into the Visitors' Center, and we are told where he can go off-leash by the river. At the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers you can see which is which because the Klondike is clear (and appears dark in the pictures), and the Yukon is muddy from the silt it has been picking up. Lots of people were sitting at the water's edge reading or viewing through binoculars. Our walk up the river along the levee is returned down Fifth Avenue past the Dawson City Museum and Diamond Tooth Gertie's. We make plans to visit both on our stay here.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake




Thursday, July 13, 2006

Alaska Day 58

Wednesday July 12, 2006 Whitehorse Yukon Territory to J 116.3 Klondike Loop Log 127

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Artic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee

When the RV was ready around noon, we headed toward Dawson City on the Klondike Loop, first going into the Lake LeBarge government campground for a close-up look at the lake and remembering fondly Robert Service's poem. A camper there tells us that fisherman go through the narrows at one end of the Big Island and into the Yukon River to fish.

Then a wonderful stop by Mom's Bakery on the campground road gets us a still warm from the oven loaf of sourdough bread. Later a stop at the general store in Carmacks for New England clam chowder in a can (where are Sam and Inez when you need them.)

We found the perfect place to stay the night at the turnout J 116.3 overlooking Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site, so named because four rock pillars form five channels or fingers of the Yukon River. 219 steps of stairway lead to a trail that goes to the rapids. It is easy going down.

Wilma had a need to do some mountain climbing and headed across the highway to see how far she could go up. It was tough finding footholds, as she had no pickax, and only got about ten feet up.

We met a couple from Saskatchewan, who live in Dawson City now, and gave us tips on visiting Mayo and Keno on our way back from Dawson.

The temperature got to 81 degrees F, the sun dropped behind the mountains at 11:30 P at the position of 11:00 on the virtual directional clock, and the sun appeared to rise the next morning at the 2:30 position. It didn't really rise; it just moved around. Dinner was, as you guessed it, clam chowder in a San Francisco sourdough bowl, and it was great sleeping with the windows open and the lull of the rapids below.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake



Alaska Day 57

Tuesday July 11, 2006 Whitehorse Yukon Territory Log 0 Miles
Due to scheduling problems with the alignment shop, we get to spend another day in Whitehorse. After a visit to the Yukon information center, we take a jeep road up the Haeckel Hill road to a wind mill site. One of the towers is in operation, and one is in need of repair. Hopefully the operational one is putting power into the grid. Our visit at the top of the hill was brief as the mosquitos were fierce and we forgot the deet. Do not leave home without it.

We saw our first Pile of Rocks, which are stacked several stones tall on the side of the road, and Meryl told us it is called Spirit of Man.

We have not had cell phone service since leaving Valdez several days ago. We bought a phone card so we could check our voice mail and return necessary calls. Today while using the WiFi at Hi Country RV Park, we strike up a conversation with a lady who is using VOIP to make phone calls on her computer. She is using a service called Skype. Herb immediately downloads the software and makes a phone call from his laptop. A visit to the local Staples gets a headset microphone and we are back in communication as long as we have internet. Internet is more readily available up here than Verizon towers.

In the Visitors' Center of Whitehorse, they have clocks, each set to a different time zone; however, they may did not display Mountain or Central for USA.

We take a longer walk to a park on the Yukon, where Jake has another swim. Herb notices a sign that states that BELOW this point water is not safe to drink. Indicating that above this point it may be ok to drink water from the Yukon river. It certainly is crystal clear, you can see several feet down into the river. We find a super grassy area to play with Jake. Herb helps a young bike rider refit the chain on his bicycle.


Pictures

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Alaska Day 56

Monday June 10, 2006 Whitehorse Yukon Territory Log 0 Miles
Much of today was spent getting a new tire, which had been worn by a road condition induced misalignment, and searching for a mechanic shop which could do an alignment -- soon. Then the search was on for a phone of some sort, where we could catch up on a week's worth of messages. Then a bit more time spent on work generated by those messages. Such is the vacation life of a non-retired person.

Wal-mart is close to the automotive businesses, as well as the very busy downtown, so we elect to stay there for the night. A nice sunny day gets the temperature up to 76 degrees. Free parking at Wal-mart gets about 30 rigs including one airplane for the evening; however, it cost us $75 -- new leash, harness and toy for Jake, phone card, and accessories for the motorhome.

Actually the Wal-mart site had the best view of the Mighty Yukon river. A walking path worked its way along the river beside our parking place. Islands in our side of the river made nesting places for gulls and other wildlife. We watched a beaver work on his dam. Jake was able to swim in the Yukon.

Pictures are here

Walldog, Willie and Jake


Alaska Day 55

Sunday June 09, 2006 Whitehorse Yukon Territory Log 0 Miles
We visited Christ Church Cathedral in Whitehorse for Eucharist, and during the coffee hour met a lady from England and Toronto, who had traveled the Top of the World Highway and received a puncture in a tire. She had to drive about forty miles of dirt road on a donut spare. We also met the Most Reverend Terrence Buckle, Archbishop of Yukon.

Amazing Grace in the songbook had the words also given in the Mohawk language, which uses our alphabet, and the Plains Cree and Inuktitut languages, whose alphabet is not recognizable by us.

Herb spent most of the afternoon answering eMail and working on the computer, as we finally had Wi-Fi -- no cell phones yet.

Our new neighbors were a delight to visit with. Francois and Lida Smit of Cape Town, South Africa, and also of Prince George, BC, Canada and their two Scotties, Strompie and Saar Tjie. The Scotties made friends with Jake and the three romped and romped and romped. At one point we saw them resting! But briefly.

It was interesting to hear of their life in South Africa and of their plans to be in Prince George for a few years, where Francois is a practicing anestheologist. Lida is third generation in the wine country. After sharing some California wine, we said good-bye with an invitation to their home for dinner as we return to the lower 48.

Pictures are here.


Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Alaska Day 54

Saturday July 08, 2006 Mile 1250 Alaska Hwy to Whitehorse Yukon Terrritory Log 329 Miles
During the night the rain starts washing most of the mud from our previous days journery from the Jeep and the back of the motorhome. Today we leave the main body of Alaska and cross back into the Yukon Territory. Our plan is to visit Dawson City before traveling down the Cassiar Highway in British Columbia to Hyder Alaska as our final point in this Alaska visit. It is with a bit of sadness that we leave this part of Alaska. We now see why many people continue to come to Alaska year after year.

We hade several highlights of the day, one of which was seeing a moose near the highway in Reflection Lake, Mile 1128 of the Alaska Highway. She had two calves that ran into the woods, but we got pictures of the mama. Not long after that in another lake we saw two swans a-swimming -- with their babies (swanlings?) swimming between them. So beautiful! With binoculars, we saw a large brown duck swimming with four or five little ducklings behind. So cute!

The other thrill was to discover that the horrible washboard we drove coming in, and were dreading, had been repaired to freeway-like smoothness. As we were coming around Kluane Lake, we were stopped for construction and the flag-lady confirmed that it had recently been taken down to washboard. She explained that they spread rocks, then crush, then put seal coat (that is oil) for the top surface. Seeming so knowledgeable about the process and appearing to be student age, with tongue in cheek, Wilma asked her if she had to have a college degree for her job. She said all she did was take a $1000 first aid and safety course, but that some have to have degrees to run the heavy equipment seen here.

She is enjoying the job, talking to the people, and has learned how to keep her legs from getting tired from so much standing -- by walking, stretching, and when possible -- sitting in her lawn chair in the middle of the road. She will soon resign to go with her parents down south to visit her grandparents before entering college to study nutrition. South? "Well," she laughed, "that is Alberta."

We agree that the highway department does a nice job of putting red flags where the dips and bad frost heave area are, and we appreciate it, so that we can slow down.

We end the day at Hi Country RV in Whitehorse. They have a coin operated RV wash, where we give the Jeep a good going over.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Alaska Day 53

Friday July 7, 2006 Mile 56.5 Tok Cutoff - Chicken - Tok - Mile 1250 Alaska Hwy Log 288 Miles
There are no chickens in Chicken. There are no Herb and Wilma in Chicken. There is rain, mud, more mud. There is the absence of grass for Jake. Although it was early afternoon and plenty of time for Jake to play, he told us he didn't want to get his feet dirty and then track all that into the RV. So we explored the chickenery, talked to a few folks, and headed back in the other direction from 40 more miles of mud between Chicken and Dawson City.

Along the Taylor Highway from Chicken to Tok we saw evidence of the fires of 2004, where miles and miles were burned. The forest is coming back, and the fireweed is thriving, literally covering some of the hills. Quite a bit of rock grafitti on the stabilized sand dunes. Worth the drive.

It is heartwarming to see the helpful spirit in Alaska, where one traveler stops to check on another who is stopped in a remote or relatively unsafe place along the road. One man had just finished changing a tire and getting ready to pull back onto the road. (Could he have come from the Top of the World Highway?)

Back on the Tok Cutoff where there was much construction on the northern end, as we passed a break in the woods, we briefly saw a moose standing in a small pond close to the road. What a sight! There was no place to pull off onto the roadside, and we went by so quickly that we didnt get a photo -- but our memories still have the picture.

Heading toward Whitehorse, we we stopped for the night at Mile 1250 of the Alaska Highway on a turnout by a picnic table area, where it just looked like bears should come and visit us by way of the trails leading up the steep hills. Beautiful spruce, quaking aspen and red/orange berries on some low growing bushes. Across the highway, we saw some rock grafitti on the sandy hillside.

Actually, we know there are no bears within miles of this place, because Jake found a grilled chicken breast that had been thrown down the hill, retrieved it, and Herb had to encourage him to "Put!" If there were bears here, they would have gotten the chicken first.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake


Alaska Day 52

Thursday July 06, 2006 Valdez AK to Mile 56.5 Tok Cutoff Log 265 Miles
Off the beaten path today, as we drove the Edgerton Hwy toward -- but not to -- McCarthy. We found it interesting that the young Aspen were thickly intermingled with Spruce on this road. At one point we saw an abandoned car at the bottom of the cliff that looked like it had been there a long time. Probably because after it had wrecked, the owner decided it would cost more to bring it up than the car was worth.

Dick and Sarah Hallum have been telling us some of the memories of their trip to Alaska in the past, but until today we did not realize the mark Sarah had left on this state!

Back on Tok Cutoff we enjoyed about eight miles of recently finished restoring of the road, but then experienced a little washboard, just to get our attention and throw all our hanging clothes off the closet rod. It was surprising that the ambient temperature rose to 76 degrees and we were quite comfortable in shirt sleeves.

We saw some neat sights at Worthington Glacier and zoomed in on some people who were standing on it, halfway up. It was not until we put the photos on the computer that we saw another person who was not readily visible to the naked eye. The lady who works in the gift shop stops along the way every morning to pick fresh wildflowers to label and display for visitors.


Our stop for the night was at a turnout overlooking Mt. Sanford and Mt. Drum, and we met Ann Scott and her mother, Eleanor, who are from Salcha AK near Fairbanks and are headed for a vacation on the Kenai. Ann had recent knowledge of the condition of theTop of the World Highway and gave us good advice on travel. She also pointed out a phenonena called "sun dog" which looks like parts of a rainbow on both sides of the sun as it sets. Then looking 180 degrees, we saw an actual rainbow in the clouds. At 4 AM the sun was rising (or had just moved around) and was shining on the east side of Mt. Sanford.

Ann also shared a bit of the Alaska lifestyle, which parallels Texas climate, in that while we hurry from house to car to shopping in the 90 plus heat, they do they same in the minus freezing. They rather enjoy looking forward to the darkness of winter after so much daylight, much the same as we look forward to cooler weather in Fall and the rebirth of Spring.

So much beauty!


Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake



Saturday, July 08, 2006

Alaska Update

We are crossing into Yukon Territory and have a few days of the journal
ready to post, but do not have a connection to upload the pictures right
now. Maybe this evening we will as we will be near Whitehorse on our way to
Dawson City. So do not worry if you do not hear from us for another day or
two.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Alaska Day 51

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 Valdez AK Log 0 Miles
Today is history day. We visit the Old Valdez exhibit of the Valdez Museum to start our day. We see many interesting artifacts from the original Valdez location that was destroyed by earthquake in 1964. One thing that caught Herb's attention was a sled and an oil barrel. It seems that the first barrel of oil delivered to Valdez from Prudhoe Bay was not through the pipleline. A year before the pipeline was completed, the Lion's club had a fund raiser that had a dog sled team of 21 dogs bring a barrel of oil from the North Slope to Valdez. Due to weather, the planned 800 mile trip took the musher over 1100 miles.

Next we went to the Valdez glacier and saw that the old town was built in the floodplain of the melting glacier. At the time of the earthquake, the town was already fighting erosion from the glacier.

Near that area we came upon the restored (appeared to have been before the earthquake) Gold Rush Cemetery, where we saw a plaque noting that a mulatto was buried outside the Pioneer Cemetery. Her grave was west of it, toward the Valdez Arm of Prince William Sound. The cemetery was pretty overgrown with brush and grass, and we did not venture inside. The new cemetery farther down the road showed evidence of earthquake damage, with many headstones tilting or lying on the ground, and a wooden one was split.

We drove close to the Valdez Marine Terminal, where the pipeline ends, just because it is there. For security, no one is allowed to enter the area. There are city sponsored camping spaces for $12/day along the road, and we saw many fishermen set up for camping and fishing in the Sound.

In the main Valdez Museum we saw an exhibit on the Northern Pacific Fur Fish, which grew the fur to adapt to the frigid waters. New information just in suggests that the Fur Fish had gone thru further adaptation, as the latest specimen caught was covered with Gore-Tex with a Thinsulate lining.

There is an interesting mural on a building across from the Post Office named "The All American Route." It pictures a miner panning for gold, and is reminiscent of the misleading advertisements to lure gold rushers through a non-existant route thru Valdez to the Klondike goldfields.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake



Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Alaska Day 50

Tuesday July 4, 2006 Independence Day Valdez Alaska Log 0 Miles
Today was a full day. We participated in local activities celebrating Independence Day here in Valdez from 8 AM until after 11 PM. Starting with a 5K walk, beginning and ending at the convention center, continuing with Walldog, Willie and Jake in the number 2 position in the parade, and ending with the fireworks display over the harbour which we watched from our bedroom in the rv. What a great time.

The walk was mostly level except for a Mount Myrna type hill on a path jutting out into the bay. We were not last, but close to it. We would have made better time, except for Jake having to stop and smell and of course get petted at all the check points. Our camera wasnt quick enough at one checkpoint, where Jake retrieved the lady's book she had been reading; we only got her petting him after SHE retrieved the book from Jake. Some of our delays were from Wilma stopping to photograph the flowers.

The parade was a hoot. The theme was "May the Fouth be with You". So we had plenty of Darths in attendance. A highlight for Herb was seeing an emaculate 1963 Volkswagon Minibus. It was just beautiful and original right down to the "Make Love Not War" sticker in the rear window. Herb had a bit of a problem when a local politician started throwing frisbies over Jake's head to the crowd.

After some afternoon rest, we saw the end of the canoe jousting contest, where the losers were knocked overboard into the cold water. Then we made our way to the BBQ sponsored by the City of Valdez, and met a couple traveling in a motorhome. During our conversation, we find that they are long time BMW motorcycle riders. In fact, he is a past president of BMWRA. We had a great time discussing our mutual friends and experiences. Charles and Graceann Carter are now fulltiming in their Allegro motorhome. Charles is also a ham radio operator. Visiting with Charles and Graceann made the long line for hamburgers pass quickly. The volunteers that organized this celebration did an excellent job. Our hats go off to them for making us feel so welcome. Valdez is first class!

Amazingly, Wilma and Herb stay awake until the fireworks start at 11 PM. Jake has long since given up the ghost. The low overcast gives a good white background for the colorfull fireworks which we watch from our bedroom window. The end to another perfect day in Alaska.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake


Alaska Day 49


Monday July 3, 2006 Valdez Alaska Log 0 Miles
An early morning trike ride took us by a 30 foot carving of an Indian sculpture by Peter Toth. A publicity brochure noted that he carved a sculpture in each of the 50 states, as his tribute to the plight of the American Indian, and that Louisiana Pulp Co. donated the wood. We cannot verify that donation, as the plaque reads that the log was a 30 ft tall by 10 ft wide Sitka spruce tree. Perhaps Louisiana Pacific of Ketchikan paid for it ....

Later we triked the bike path to the salmon viewing spot, hosted by the Forest Service, but were told that it is a little early for them to run here. Nice ride anyway and we got to see lots of wildflowers, which Wilma's camera can't pass up.

Beginning our study of the area, we saw a film on building the Alaska Pipeline and one on the Good Friday 1964 earthquake. We cannot begin to describe what we saw on the earthquake. There was footage of the tremor as it was happening, because someone happened to be filming at that moment. So much destruction. 0ne interesting thing we learned about the pipeline construction is that where it goes underground, it is for its protection from avalanches. Instead of running in a straight line, it tacks, to allow for expansion during earthquakes and differences in temperature. We saw welders on top of the pipe being held only by safety belts, and it pointed to the risks and hardships the construction workers had. One guy laughingly commented on the film that if anything else was to be built through Thompson Pass, he would not be there.

We are enjoying our trip so much, and Elsie gave us a tip: she said someone may tell us that when the blooms on the fireweed are open all the way to the top of the flower stalk, it will snow -- so we are watching that carefully!!! We'll know it is time to head south.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake



Monday, July 03, 2006

Alaska Day 47-48

Saturday July 1, 2006 Fairbanks AK to Richardson Hwy mile V-204.5 Log 201 Miles
We sacrificed about four hours contributing to the wealth of Sams, Safeway, and Wal-mart before we started having more fun than shopping. At the Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK, we enjoyed seeing all the over-thirty kids having the time of their lives among the Christmas-ey things and shopping for their over- and under-thirty friends. It was observed that Herb and Wilma Stark were having the most fun, posing with Santa and being photographed in his sleigh.

At Delta Junction, Milepost 1422 of the Alaska Highway, we were photographed at the "end of the Alaska Highway," and got a certificate to prove we drove the entire highway and survived it. Sadly, we learned that we missed the festivities of the day, which included a pie-eating contest. I don't think they could make a pie as good as Myrna's lemon that she makes for Tim, so it is just as well that we were too late.

We found numerous turnouts for viewing along the Delta River, and thinking of Ed and Billie, we stopped at Mile 204.5 which Milepost said had a good view of the pipeline "going up overhill." Actually, the oil flows downhill at this point, but it was a great sight and site. There was a large level gravel area that appeared to have been part of the riverbed, but Alyeska had built a dump road to the pipeline, and left the area dry. There were two other campers, one of whom was a family from Lake Louise AK. A most peaceful evening dry camping, low temp was 39 out and 50 in, but cool is great for sleeping and propane does a marvelous job of heating when you wake.

Pictures are here.

Sunday July 2, 2006 Richardson Hwy Mile V-204.5 to Valdez AK Log 211 Miles
The sun came over the mountain at 6:30 A and rapidly brought the temp to 70 in and out.

At Glenallen we checked out the craft market and found a red salmon Christmas ornament to hang on the palm tree at South Padre next December. We were acosted by the Sonnier family (roots in Louisiana) and one of whom lives in Wasilla AK where he knew the late Joe Redington of Iditarod fame. One of the guys told us about working at Prudoe Bay, and how it is an arctic desert, having little precipation/snow, but getting a lot of snow which blows back and forth from Canada to Russia and back.

Many places along the Richardson HIghway had a view of the Alaska pipeline, and we marveled at each one we saw. Especially worth noting is that the curves or turns in the pipe are necessary in case of earthquake, to which Alaska is subject.

The highlight of the drive to Valdez was Thompson Pass. Now we know why the Churchills said Valdez is a must see. It rivals the drive to Skagway. They are both magnificent, but different from each other. The Thompson Pass is awesome in the expanse of the beauty, and Bridal Veils Falls just down the highway keep you on your high -- then Horsetail Falls less than a mile from there -- are just too much to imagine! The Maxwells had told us of the wonderful scenery, but we had to experience it for ourselves.

On into Valdez, it is magical that we end up at Bear Paw RV Park and meet some great neighbors within thirty minutes. First order of the day is to erect the US Flag, unload the trikes and brush the cobwebs from them. We saw the bike paths as we entered the town.

Day 48 Pictures are here

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Alaska Day 46

Friday June 30, 2006 Fairbanks AK Log 0 Miles
We start today at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, which features cultural and historical displays from the five geographical regions of Alaska -- paintings, artifacts, and animals. They have the state's largest public display of gold and the world's only Ice Age steppe bison mummy. Unfortunately, they did not allow flashbulbs and some of the pictures do not show well. Herb predicted, and Wilma proved it true -- her excitement over one of the paintings. It was of a sled dog team and musher in a driving, blowing snowstorm. Exudes pure agony! Not surprising was the title, "The Mail Run." Neither rain nor sleet....

After lunch we go out to the Large Animal Research Station of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Be glad you are not a musk ox, as they only live ten or twelve years, and they are UGLY! They don't smell good either. But the babies, which were born in May, are cute. The breed survived the ice age, having lived along with the mammoths. Musk ox are not in the bison family, as we had thought from the looks of them, but are in the goat family. They have an undercoat called qiviut, which is warmer than wool and keeps them warm even in minus 80 degrees F. Because of this warmth property and the fact that they shed only once a year, this raw qiviut sells for $280 per pound -- but you would need less than other yarn because you don't need to knit it as tight.

We also saw reindeer (none with a red nose) and caribou, and learned they are similar, but the reindeer are domesticated and the caribou are in the wild. Racks are not specific in appearance for either one, but simply individual from animal to animal. We also saw some sandhill cranes in the pasture, but they are just visiting and not in the research program.

We cap off our day with dinner at The Alaska Salmon Bake just a few steps from our RV. The entrance is through a mine tunnel littered with relics from the old mining era. As you can see from the pictures here, there was plenty of good salmon, halibut, cod and prime rib. Too much food for any sane person.

Walldog, Willie and Jake