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2016 - On Staff for
RV Adventure Treks to Alaska

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Thousands of cars headed to the coastSunday, August 21, 2016: On our way to Sutherlin, this is our last day of our Adventure to Alaska and return. Since it's a weekend and the weather is very hot in the valley, thousands of cars are on the road to the coast. As we pass 50 miles of these cars, I'm thinking they should all be told the coast highway (101) is nothing but a parking lot with so many people coming to the coast, no one can move. We are headed in the correct, uncrowded direction. It's hot in Sutherlin but this has been an incredible and enjoyable experience with unmatched natural beauty and many new friends already planning meetings this year and for next year.

Antique military vehicles are paraded through Forth Stevens State Park
Saturday, August 20, 2016: While camped at Fort Stevens State Park an antique military vehicle show was happening. Before leaving, the vehicles made a pass through the park. Fun for the participants and for the camping fans. Click the photo for another view.

Visiting Oysterville ... for oysters
Turns out an international kite festival is happening in Long Beach
Friday, August 19, 2016: Gwen, Gail, Don and I drove to Oysterville, Washington for fresh oysters. We barbequed them later and they were wonderful. We chose to explore the rest of the area and found a kite festival in Long Beach, a small tourist town nearby in southwestern Washington. This was an international kite festival and several competitors were from far away countries. We enjoyed all the people, activity and especially the colorful kites. I carried my favorite kite with me, a 6 foot parafoil two line kite but did not get a chance to fly it. Click the photos for additional views.

Making my Ready Brake fit the motorhome hitch and a view of the Pilot boat on the Columbia

Thursday, August 18, 2016: Our first full day at Fort Stevens State Park. Don and Gail are busy with their volunteer job so Gwen and I went shopping and I completed some repairs.

I currently have three problems, one of the storage latches on the coach has broken (won't open), one of the driving lights doesn't work and the "Ready Brake" won't fit the coach two inch receiver, it bottoms out about 1/2" short of the holes lining up.

I plugged "welder" into the GPS and it took me to "Affordable Portable Welding". I didn't need welding but I figured a welder could cut two inch steel and I was right. Mr. Affordable whipped out his saw, cut 1/2" off the Ready Brake and the job was done in five minutes. I asked "How Much?" and he reported his minimum was $30, a little steep I thought but the job was done and the Ready Brake fits.

Napa supplied me with a new bulb to repair the driving light which I installed and the lights are working again. I'm waiting until I return to Sutherlin to repair the latch because these latches seem to break continually so I've got an idea of a more permanent fix. That idea will be easier to complete in Sutherlin (home base). Click the photos for additional views.

Crossing the Astoria Bridge at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River Wednesday, August 17, 2016: Our goal today is Fort Stephens State Park on the northwest tip of Oregon. Our friends, Don and Gail (from the Alaska tour) have volunteered as camp hosts at the park. We plan to stay three nights near them just to get to know each other better. The exciting part of THIS day is driving over the bridge between Washington and Astoria, Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia River. Some huge ocean going ships pass down the Columbia to Portland so the bridge is make very tall at the deepest part of the river. The deepest part is right off shore of Astoria so it must be very exciting seeing these huge ships pass nearby. We can see a half dozen in the distance but all are anchored and empty so must be waiting for cargo. We were lucky to get a camp spot at Fort Stephens, a very popular state park. We took the last site available but like the site because campers are only on one side of the coach. Click the photos for additional views. On the bridge and our camp location at Fort Stevens State Park
Back in the lower 48 and US customs GPS is showing RED meaning traffic is crawling and Seattle view from I-5 traveling south Mount Rainier from I-5 and the Sea Hawks stadiium
The view from our motorhome toward Willappa Bay at the Bayshore RV Park
Tuesday, August 16, 2016: Another travel day, this time from Hope, BC to Tokeland, Washington, YES, we crossed the border and are back into the "lower 48". The customs agent only took Gwen's lemon. I was dreading the traffic around Seattle but hoped our early afternoon travel would give us an easier time. Instead, we had bumper to bumper traffic for about 50 miles around Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia. Our goal for the evening was one of our favorite RV parks, Bayshore RV Park in Tokeland, Washington. This time we got a waterfront site with our windshield facing the bay. We watched a Blue Heron successfully fishing then swallow the fish whole. Click all photos for additional views.
We meet and have dinner with cycle tourists from Oregon and the city of Kamloops, BC from the visitor center On the road to Hope, BC and our parking area for the night
Monday, August 15, 2016: This is a travel day from Mt Robson Provincial Park to Hope, BC (south toward the states). Last night a couple of cycle tourists stopped to ask for directions and I invited them to camp in our space. Maranda and Ben are touring Canada before doing other things in the fall. Maranda is an Oregon State student and may have spotted my Oregon State license plate frame on the Forester. Ben is from Minnesota just enjoying cycling. We ended up having dinner together and hope to make a lasting friendship. This was a long day of driving but the pavement was smooth (unlike many of the roads in the Yukon and Alaska). All the area was new to us and as we drove south, the elevation was lower and it was obviously less rainfall. There was some steep descents and steep climbing too. My 8.1 liter engine had to work hard. Click the photos for additional views.
Downtown Jasper and the National Park Information Building Jasper National Park and looking down on the Gondola building
Gwen in the Gondola parking lot and a view of Jasper while ascending the gondola Gwen looking at the view from Whistler's mountain The top of the gondola ride from Jasper and the view of Jasper from the top
Sunday, August 14, 2016: After a day of rest at Mt Robson Provincial Park, Gwen, Morgan and I drive to Jasper, about an hour's drive, and enter Jasper National Park. We have a wonderful breakfast in downtown Jasper then drive to the gondola to see the entire area from the top of Whistler's Mountain. The hat I'm wearing is the Yukon College hat. That's a loon coming from the pages of a book. I learned that from a girl in a pizza parlor who told me what it was. The hat says "Yukon College" in the back. We chose the tram ride (gondola) over a boat or bus tour of the area. The view (again) can't be put into words and the photos don't do it justice. Once to the top of the tram ride, many continued to the summit of the mountain. Click all the photos for other views.

Mt Robson Provincial Park Visitor Center with Mt Robson behind

Gwen and Morgan are enjoying the Fraser River

Saturday, August 13, 2016: Mt. Robson Provincial Park has a wonderful visitor center with a natural history display as well as information about this very large park. Mt. Robson is behind the visitor center, click the above photo for a better view. Again, no photo can do this mountain justice. Mt. Robson is the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

Later, Gwen, Morgan and I visit the Fraser River, the fifth largest in Canada. Let's hope the water districts in southern California don't hear of the Fraser River! The color of the water comes from melting glaciers. Click the photo for another view of the Fraser River.

This afternoon brought a thunder storm with lots of rain. Hopefully it's enough to kill any fires started by the electrical storm.

Unfortunately, a disadvantage of camping "off grid" are the campers who buy cheap contractor generators. The problem with contractor generators is that they are very noisy, and always run at full RPM no matter the demand. People come to campgrounds to leave noise and enjoy the quiet surrounding, wildlife and scenery. A contractor generator can be heard 200 yards away. I've documented this many times in the states but it happens in Canada too! There ARE quiet generator options but they are more expensive.

The McBride Canada National train station, also a visitor center for the Robson Valley I've not seen these mushrooms before, behind is our spacious campsite at the Mt Robson Provincial Park
Friday, August 12, 2016: Our first travel day after the end of the tour. We travel from Prince George, BC to Mt. Robson Provincial Park. Our lunch stop is at the visitor center in McBride, BC, also a Canadian National Train Station. Click the visitor center photo to see our first view of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The roads seem to improve as we drive south. The mushroom is one I've not seen before. Behind the mushroom is a photo of our spacious campsite at the Mt. Robson Provincial Park. This is the largest and nicest site we've had in 50 days. Of course, no hook ups and only 2 hours of solar because of the trees but we still got our batteries to 90% by the end of the day.
Moved to a different space at South Park RV Dinner with friends our former "guests"
Thursday, August 11. 2016: Most everyone left today for destinations south. We stayed one extra day to do laundry and grocery shopping. I had hoped to wash the vehicles but that became impossible. Two guests, now friends Craig, Judy, Suzi and Eddie invited us to dine with them. Eddie chose "North 54" which turned out to be the best restaurant we have dined in during the whole trip. Eddie, Suzi, Craig and Judy are great examples of people we hope to meet again and spend some travel time together.
Burns Lake is a huge BC lake and remote resort

Wednesday, August 10, 2016, day 50 of the 50 day tour of Alaska with Adventure Trek and our position on staff as the "Tailgunner". We end up at South Park RV for our last night. At the end of the day, we all met at the Carmel Restaurant for a final meal together. This was a time of congratulations but sad because we are parting from the group tomorrow. Click the right photo for a view of our "guests" at the meal.

Some surprises over the last 50 days. We were concerned about the attitudes of the tourists

Our group is nearly to Prince George and tonight is the last meal together.
paying for an Alaska tour. We couldn't believe what we were told... that we would make lifetime friends during the tour. As it turned out, we enjoyed everyone on the tour even though they (except for one rig) were all RV park to RV park travelers (not the way we travel). Indeed, we did make lifetime friends and would enjoy traveling with ANY of those on the tour. We hope to see everyone again. About the terrain, we enjoyed the Yukon as much as Alaska. The mountains in Canada and Alaska are incredible. The wilderness in both Canada and Alaska creates unique citizens in both countries. The roads in northern Yukon were rough due to construction and the roads in parts of Alaska were also rough due to frost heaves. Having said that, one guest had two flat tires while traveling a gravel road, no other guest had tire problems. One guest had a medical emergency which required a helicopter flight to Fairbanks but the emergency was not serious and that guest rejoined the group in two days. Not everyone was happy with the itinerary. Everyone agreed, too many museums (including me). We liked only two of the many RV parks but there were few choices in many cases. Many of the parks operate only four months of the year so little of the income can go to improving the parks. We were always crowded in the RV park and even though every park advertised "Internet access", that access was almost ALWAYS so poor it could not be used for any purpose. In all cases, the scenery outweighed any inconvenience. In every town except Hyder, Alaska, we always said to ourselves, "we would like to spend more time here".
A totem village

Tuesday, August 9, 2016: Nearing the end of the 50 day tour, we travel from Hyder, Alaska to Smithers, British Columbia. We pass a totem village in route.

Smithers is our first large city in British Columbia and we have great hopes for good Internet access but no such luck. All the RV parks we stayed advertise Internet access but their systems are either overloaded or extremely slow to the point we can't use them.

This campground is associated with a golf course but everyone is so tired they didn't bother to try it out.

A totem village on our way to Smithers, BC
Many reported "The Bus" to be the best food of the trip. The toe of the Salmon galcier
Look west toward the Salmon Glacier A different Salmon glacier view The road climbing to the Salmon glacier
Gwen first spots the Salmon Glacier

Monday, August 8, 2016: This is probably the highlight of the tour for scenery. We are able to drive to the Salmon Glacier overlook and see almost the entire glacier. This glacier is actually in British Columbia because we have crossed the border again when driving the gravel road to the glacier. No photo can do this scene justice.

The Seafood Express is a cooking bus where customers order at the bus door then wait, often a long time, for their order to arrive. This is a single cook and owner who cooks one meal at a time, hence the long wait. However, we are told by several guests (we didn't patronize the bus) that the food was outstanding. If we do this trip again, we'll give it a try. Click all photos for additional views.

Setting up for a final campfire and Gwen making a game of a story she wrote A rest stop memorial to two state worker avalanch victims The Bear Glacier just before Stuart, BC
Incredible sceniery again Sunday, August 7, 2016: We have a fun time together at the Mountain Shadow RV Park, probably the most scenic and comfortable park of the tour. Today is a travel day from Mountain Shadows to Hyder, Alaska. This turns into a scenic canyon drive where we find the bear glacier. We follow the route through Stuart, BC then cross the border again into Hyder, Alaska. This campground is probably the worst of the tour. The only reason, as it turns out, to come to Hyder is because the incredible Salmon Glacier is on up the road about 20 miles. We did have time, after parking, to drive to Fish Creek walkway where sightseers go to watch salmon and, hopefully, bears. We didn't see any bears. Looking for bears at Fish Creek but finding only dead and dying fish and the Hyder, Alaska post office
The Cassiar Highway, narrow two lane, paved, no lines Local Jade porcessed and sold Lakes are everywhere along the Cassiar

This little fellow wanted to stay with me, and our best campground of the trip


Saturday, August 6, 2016: Traveling from Watson Lake to Iskut, BC. This was a spectacular clear day on a narrow two lane road with no painted lines but a popular route for the "golden loop" which circles back to Dawson Creek. The scenery is more of the Pacific northwest mountains, rivers, many lakes all surrounded by Spruce and Pine. The ONE stop along the route for us was in Jade City where locally mined Jade is cut and polished into popular shapes.

Our destination RV park is on a large lake but otherwise seems to be alone in the wilderness. No village of Iskut has been seen. This RV park takes the prize for the best yet on our tour.

The beetle would crawl onto my leg repeatedly after I set him on the ground. Click the beetle for a panorama of our grassy RV park.


In front of the IMax theater in Watson Lake, and rough camping at the hiway 37/Alaska Hiway



Friday, August 5, 2016: Another travel day from Teslin to Watson Lake where the sign forest is located. Yes, we were here in June but this time we are here to join the Cassiar Highway (37) which heads straight south.

When we were here the first time an Imax style movie theater was mentioned which I thought was showing a movie about the Yukon Territories. Gwen and I went with Jim and Jeanne to see the movie. The theater was impressive, a dome shape scream overhead with seats slanted back so you are looking into the dome. Instead of Yukon views there were two movies. The first illustrating the size of the universe and the second of the Aurora Borealis. This was a disappointment to me and probably to others since nothing was mentioned after the movie.

We stayed in the same park as last time but in a different location, a better location. Click the photo for a view.

Lynne is proud of the T-shirt she found to torment her Texas friends


Thursday, August 4, 2016: Today was a travel day back to Teslin, Yukon. It's a relatively short drive of 140 miles giving us much of the afternoon in Teslin.

Lynne is one of our guests and I noticed her T-shirt (Isn't Texas Cute"). I assume she purchased it to torment her Texas friends. I found it very amusing. The interesting part about this Texas/Alaska statement is that we have driving through Texas and have now driven through Alaska. Texas seems much larger. We decided the reason is Alaska has paved highways through a very small portion of the state so it seems you can drive Alaska much quicker. The reality is, you haven't even touched the entire state of Alaska via the road system.

Click Lynne's photo to see our Teslin camping location next to the huge Teslin Lake.

Carcross, Yucon on the bus toward Fraser, BC On the bus to Fraser, BC to get the train to Skagway. Aboard the train to Skagway, Alaska
Don spots something out the window of the train Early, now unsed, bridge
I'm glad we aren't going over THIS bridge Finally into Skagway Four cruise ships in the harbor
Climbing through the clouds on the way back to Fraser, BCWednesday, August 3, 2016: Perhaps the highlight of the tour is the train ride to Skagway, Alaska. It is descending 3,000 feet from Fraser, British Columbia to sea level over 27 miles. I hope someone does a good job of maintenance because the train tracks are on the side of a very steep drop much of the way. This train was completed in 1900 to haul passengers and freight to and from the gold fields in northern Yukon. The train only went as far as the headwaters of the Yukon River where the rest of the trip was by boat. A bus picked us up at the RV park then transported us first to Carcross for a short stop then to Fraser, British Columbia where we transferred to the train for the ride to Skagway. When gold was discovered in the Klondike, prospectors would arrive in Skagway hoping to become rich overnight. They learned they must carry 1,000 lbs of survival gear with them. This is what motivated the building of the train route. For our trip, the weather was not perfect for photography but still enjoyable. Skagway is a cute tourist town with lots of ways to spend the tourist dollar. I noticed the four cruise ships in the harbor so was as interested in seeing them as the town. We had an enjoyable short stay before the return trip. Most guests were disappointed we didn't have more time. Click all photos for more views.
We visit the Beringia Museum and education story David, our tour guide, instructs us in the use of the atlatl
Where Beringia was located and the causes of global climate changes

We are visiting the Yukon College

Tuesday, August 2, 2016: I take our guests to the Beringia Museum and education center near the Whitehorse airport. I was extremely interested in this topic since I had only been introduced to it in the last week. During the last ice age, ending about 23,000 years ago, there was an area which was cold but without ice called "Beringia" (pronounced bear-in-gee-a). This became the home for many herbivores and their predators. The herbivores included the Musk Ox, small horse, bison, and smaller creatures. The most impressive herbivore was the Woolly Mammoth. The predators. were the Sabre Tooth Tiger, Scimitar Cat, and Short Faced Bear. However, the chief predator was the human following these food sources across Beringia and later into north America. We had a guided tour from Beringia staff member, David. He discussed the geography, weather, animals and human activity of Beringia. He also discussed the causes of climate change (click the map photo). We also got a hands on activity with the use of an early weapon called the atlatl.

Later, Gwen and I toured the Yukon College (yes, I got another hat). It's a very nice campus with small numbers of students in each course. I learned that the college is working to become a university within five years. This is Yukon College, not UCONN found in the USA. Click all photos for additional views.


Road construction much of our travel day From mud to dust, all our tour group is together for the first time In Whitehorse again, here is Yukon art
Monday, August 1, 2016: Traveling from Beaver Creek to Whitehorse, Yukon. This was a long travel day especially with the road construction much of the way. The Canadian highway department wet the gravel to keep the dust under control which made a mess all over the motorhome and toad. Then the mud changed to dust which stuck to the coating on the motorhome and toad. Fortunately, there was a car wash near our RV park and both motorhome and toad look like they can be saved. After arriving in Whitehorse, we take a drive around and find the bicycle wheel art work in a local front yard. Click all photos for more views.
Leaving Chicken with Eddie, Susi, Craig and Judy in front of us. Welcome to Beaver Creek
Sunday, July 31, 2016: We leave Chicken and Alaska on our way to Canada. Our first overnight stop is Beaver Creek, Yukon. The road from Chick to the Alaska Highway is 66 miles and slow driving due to the many frost-heaves in the road. Two hours later we joined the Alaska Highway and drove through the Canadian boarder without problems. Beaver Creek is a SMALL Yukon community. It's claim to fame is the "furthest community to the west in Canada". That's 50 kilometers per hour, 31 MPH. Click the left photo for another view.
A sign greeting us as we enter Chicken Our RV parking area in Chicken The Chicken dredge and distant view of Chicken
Mike, our dredge tour guide and the Chicken Post Office Jim and Harold in the dredge control room, third floor Robin at the dredge gears and the dredge sound warnings
Saturday, July 30, 2016: Another travel day from Tok to Chicken, Alaska. The route is only 66 miles but takes us two hours due to road conditions. The road is paved but the uneven pavement causes sever bouncing of the motorhome so we must go slowly. Many tourists and caravans visit Chicken mostly because they have made good marketing use of their name so everyone wants a T-shirt or hat from Chicken, Alaska. It is a small community with three business buildings full of Chicken logo items for the tourists. It is also home of the Chicken gold dredge which was in use until the late 50s. Our group got a private tour of all three floors of the dredge by Mike, the current owner of the dredge. He explained, in detail, the working parts of the dredge as well as the dredge history. Before discontinuing use, this dredge dug 59,000 ounces of gold from Chicken Creek. Only three operators were on the dredge when it was working. The operation was so noisy, the only way to communicate was by MORE noise from horns and bells. The signals are listed behind the last photo. Click ALL photos for additional views.
A partiail view of the Wrangle Mountain Range Friday, July 29, 2016: We are driving northwest back to the tiny town of Tok, Alaska in route to the unique community of Chicken, Alaska. On our route to Tok, we get another chance to see the Wrangle Mountain Range west of us on the Alaska - Canadian border. This is all part of the Wrangle - St. Elias National Park, the largest US national park. Unfortunately, the weather is still obscuring all of the Wrangle mountain tops and most of the park. We do get a glimpse of the highest mountain which is as impressive as Mt. Denali. Click the photos for additional views. Route to Tok
Gwen is fooling around at a nearby waterfalls At an unfinished railroad tunnel but a disappointment On the 15th best hike in the world
Thursday, July 28, 2016: Gwen and I plus friend, Don went exploring hoping to find a good hike for the day. We first stopped at a nearby National Forest visitor center to view the waterfalls behind the center. The Salmon were spawning so hoping for close-up views of the Salmon. It was a nice center but the Salmon viewing was disappointing. Click the left photo for a view of the falls. Next we drove to an unfinished railroad tunnel thinking we would have a mile long hike through the mountains. Instead, the tunnel was about 100 yards long and open at both ends so no mystery. Click the center photo for the story of this 1906 tunnel. Finally, we were encouraged by a National Geographic rating of hikes where the 15th hike was in Valdez. It turned out to be unspectacular with most of the hike on a gravel road. I was hoping for a good view of the canyon leading to Valdez Bay but no trail led to a canyon overlook. The scenic trail led to a partially blocked overlook of the Valdez Bay. Click the right photo for that view. So this was a disappointing hiking day but still ... we ARE in Alaska with incredible scenery and mountains all around us.
Gwen took the group onto the Lu Lu Belle I visited Prince William Sound Community College and found their museum right next door. They had a stuffed Musk Ox.

Tonight was potluck night so the owner of the RV park decided to welcome us.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016: So today was a free day to explore the area, at least for us (the group went to another museum). Yesterday, Gwen took the group onto a nine hour boat ride with Captain Fred on the Lu Lu Belle. I had to take a photo of the boat as they returned. I'm sure Gwen will give a full report on her blog.

I'm always in search of college baseball caps so I visited the Prince William Sound Community College but learned they have no bookstore and the only logo-wear they had was sweat pants. Still, they did have a very nice museum with many Alaskan artifacts and a stuffed Musk Ox. Of course they had many stuffed Alaskan animals but I mention the Musk Ox because of our tour of the Musk Ox farm.

Tonight we enjoyed a potluck with our guests. While using the RV park deck, the owner of the park welcomed us and thanked us for choosing their park. Then she asked if we had seen any bears yet. The group answered in one voice, "No!". But we soon got our bear-wish ... what fun.

Click the top two photos for additional views.

Salmon spawning nearby

Tuesday, July 26, 2016: We visit a nearby Salmon hatchery and learn Pink Salmon are returning to spawn in the river. The river and bay where the river flows, are covered with thousands of Salmon. Further out in the bay, about a dozen Sea Lions are feeding on the Salmon so we often see spots of violent activity as the Salmon attempt to avoid being a meal for the Sea Lions. It seems that only a fraction of the thousands of Salmon actually reach the river to spawn.

We are in Valdez for four nights. Again, we are crammed tightly (awning to awning) in a RV park. These Alaska RV parks have only the short summer season to make enough money to survive the year. So they cram as many RVs as they can onto their gravel parking locations. It is obvious, they put little back into their parks. Obvious because most of very rough, only 30 amp service, no sewer hook up with WiFi advertised as "free" but of little use it is so slow.

Alaska RV parks must make their money in the short summer so they cram in as many RVs as possible.
A lunch stop in Copper Center Our first sighting of Worthington Glacier
Bridal Veil Falls on the road to Valdez Monday, July 25, 2016: Another gloomy, wet, cloudy travel day to Valdez Alaska. It's a lonely port town with its major distinction as the terminus of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. This is where the huge fuel tankers fill with Alaska oil from the northern part of the state. I don't see the tankers so they must be further into Prince William Sound for docking. It DOES seem that security of the terminus is significant although much of it is exposed in Alaska so I would think subject to a terrorist attack. The two lane road to Valdez has some fantastic scenery if not covered in clouds as it was today. We stopped at the Wrangell St. Elias National Park Visitor Center to look at photos of the park since we couldn't see it. This is the largest national park in the nation, eight times the size of Yellowstone. No doubt, some day there will be good access into this park but for now, it is far too rugged for roads. Bridal Veil Falls is just next to the road so everyone had to stop for photos. Click the photos for more views. Road to Valdez, into the canyon and cloudiy view of the Wrangell St. Ellias National Park
Our wilderness campground near Glennallen, Alaska
Sunday, July 24, 2016: This was a gloomy travel day with rain and low clouds. Our destination is the Tolsona Wilderness Campground near Glennallen, Alaska. It turns out to be a little different than all our other, very crowded and compact campgrounds. This one has us spread around among the tree and most are on a very active creek. It also has more mosquitoes than any of our other camping locations. Everyone was able to maneuver between the trees into their spaces. It was to our liking but others weren't so happy because of the "rustic setting". This was just an overnight stop on our way to Valdez. We DID have a campfire and cookies planned for the evening but the rain was too heavy for those plans. Click the photo for a view of the road to Glennallen.
The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer Our tour guide shows the "pick" used to comb the Qiviut from the Musk Ox
Saturday, July 23, 2016: Our group spent the afternoon visiting the only Musk Ox Farm in North America. This is a non-profit farm in the process of domesticating the Musk Ox. We took a tour of the farm and learned about their domestication. The Musk Ox in Alaska is raised for the wool which is combed rather than cut from the body. The Musk Ox MUST live in a cold climate. They are suited to below freezing weather. Their coat (qiviut) is eight times warmer than wool and very soft. It is valued at $440 per pound. It must be combed rather than cut because the guard hairs take three years to grow back and the ox would not survive the cold winters without the guard hair. At the same time, the ox would not survive the warm summer weather in Palmer without combing out the loose qiviut. This is a non-profit farm dedicated to the domestication of the Musk Ox and to education of the public about the value of the Musk Ox. Click the photos for views of adults and click here and here for views of a 3 month old ox.

Gwen fixing chili for a staff prepared meal and our camp spot in Palmer, AK


Friday, July 22, 2016: Today was a travel day from Seward to Palmer, Alaska. This had been our first real day of clouds and rain as we travel through Alaska. It is welcome to help put out some of the wildfires found around the state. Palmer, we learned, is the home of the Alaska State Fair and also one of the few areas of Alaska known as an agricultural area. The growing season is short but with the many summer hours of sunlight, the vegetable crops grow fast and large. It is also the home of the only Musk Ox Farm in North America which we will visit tomorrow. Gwen is making chili for a staff prepared meal. Click the photo for a view of our Palmer camp site.

Hiking to the receding Exit glacier where year markers are placed to indicate where the glacer was on that year. Gwen is watching the hikers come/go from the Exit glacier view point.

We get to see another cruise ship come and go at the Seward Port


Wednesday, July 20, 2016: We all enjoy a hike to Exit Glacier today located about five miles from our camp. It is one of the few glaciers you can still drive to and also located within the Kenai Fjords National Park. It was a relatively easy, two mile hike round trip to the glacier view point. All these glaciers we have been seeing yesterday and today are coming from the Harding Icefield along the mountains separating Homer and Seward. The entire icefield is part of the Kenai Fjords National Park. The Exit Glacier has been receding since it's discovery and records are now kept of its position each year. Additionally, signs are posted marking the glacier's position on that year (1926). Click each photo for additional views.

Our Kenai Fjoirds National Park wildlife tour began with a view of these Otters and birds nexting on the side of a cliff.
Captain Steve takes us to the Aialik Glacier Aialik Glacier up close
Docked at Fox Island for dinner and solar power for the lodge, many flat rocks Tuesday, July 19, 2016: The day many of us have been looking forward to and the weather was perfect. We take the Kenai Fjords boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park wildlife and glaciers. This is an all day tour with lunch and dinner. We begin the tour with a close-up view of two otters floating near port then off to several islands where we see birds nettings along the cliffs. In another hour we reach the Aialik Glacier where we see and hear the calving of the glacier and see the seals enjoying the icebergs after the calving. Dinner is on Fox Island at the National Park lodge. Good salmon and prime rig. Click each photo for more views. Buffet dinner with final scenery before going back to port
Our reservation at Seward plus the view from Miss Dory's windshield Our evening meal stop, Red's Burgers
We get to see the Norwegean Sun embark.Monday, July 18, 2016: Another travel day, this time from Homer to Seward, Alaska. We camped in a "first come, first served" city park but the caravans have reserved spaces. "Adventure Treks" was reserved but WITHOUT front row bay views. Click the reservation sign to see our view. Several of our guests recommended "Red's Burgers" out of a "bus" so we tried it. We met our friends from Oregon, Ralph, Janet, Dick and Mary Ellen who are also visiting Seward. While visiting, we were able to see the Norwegian Sun embark on a week long cruise to several port cities in Alaska ending up in Vancouver, BC. Click all photos for more views.
Our first stop, the Two Sister's Bakery, very popular location The beach at Homer A bald eagle waiting for the tsunami early warning system to sound

Halibut fish and chips, the recommended cafeSunday, July 17, 2016: This was suppose to be a rest day but, instead, we drove into town (after Gwen did a load of laundry) to get some file folders and another container of Halibut dip.

But first! We drove to "old town" to find the "Two Sister's Bakery" recommended to us by our tour guide yesterday. We learned it is a very popular bakery with a long waiting line. We bought bread, a lunch-time treat, and a few items for breakfast.

Next, we did find the combination hardware, housewares, quilt shop, garden shop and sport shop. This is where we found the file folders we were looking for to organize our brochures in the case we get to be trekmasters next year. This was another store recommended by our tour guide. The city of Homer does not allow large corporate stores so she called it, "Homer's Wal-Mart".

Our Homer beach walk found a bald eagle sitting on top of the tsunami early warning tower. I imagine these towers can make a lot of noise when activated. I believe we are sitting at least 30 feet above sea level so probably safe. As Gwen and I walked the beach looking for unique rocks, sea otters, seals, whales, we knew the tide was near its highest point.

Finally, we drove to "the spit" to get another container of Halibut dip. Something Gwen really likes. We decided to visit the Halibut and chips cafe recommended by our tour guide. We shared one basket, very enjoyable. Click all photos for another view.

Shelly giving us a tour of Homer docks, town and art. A restaurant recommended for great seafood Unloading today's catch
The Lowell Gallery All wood clock, my favorite piece in the gallery The Lowell homestead in 1958 and as it stands today.
Saturday, July 16, 2016: We take a guided tour of Homer, the Homer docks and the Lowell art gallery. Since Homer is a fishing community, we start our guided tour at the Homer docks learning about commercial and recreational fishing in the area. While at the docks we learn of a great little restaurant for seafood. It only has five tables so we made reservations and had our date-night at the Little Mermaid. This is what my Rockfish looked like when delivered. Gwen had Halibut and will share a photo on her blog. After the docks we toured Homer where we learned of other places to visit tomorrow. Then we drove about 15 miles out of town to the north to visit the Lowell Gallery. It is fascinating to see the work Norman Lowell has done. My favorite was the all wooden clock, click the photo to see it keep time. Norman and Libby homesteaded his property in 1958. It is a beautiful location overlooking the Anchor Point River. We were able to tour the homestead after visiting the gallery. I was able to take with Norman. I told him, "In 1958 I was eleven and my parents moved from Oregon City, Oregon to Ontario, California. It seemed like we moved from heaven to hell!" I said that because I enjoyed the weather, the green, the rivers, the scenery, the space and my friends in Oregon. None of that existed in southern California, however, I eventually made friends which I enjoyed. Click all photos for additional views.
Traveling next to Cook Inlet toward Homer At the top of the pass, still 100 miles to Homer

We have arrived at the Halibut capital of the world



Friday, July 15, 2016: We are traveling to the Halibut capital of the world, Homer, Alaska. This is a small town of 5,000 population but we are told, triple that during the summer months. This seemed like a long day with 222 miles to travel and many stops along the way to look at the scenery. Our job is to look for guests who might be "straggling" or in need of some sort of help. We saw no-one today but missing Robin and Lynne who we passed without seeing them. They explained, "we drove off the hi way looking at the scenery". Click all the photos for additional views. Be sure to scroll left/right on the top two, both are panoramas.

Six of our guest RVs signed for a 23 day tour and this was day 23 so they are off onto their own adventure

We hike to Thunderbird Falls


Thursday, July 14, 2016: Gwen and I sent the few guests who wanted to visit the planned event of another museum. Most are tired of museums as are we. We took ourselves and Morgan for a nice hike to Thunderbird Falls. This is a short hike next to a deep canyon where we get a view straight down to the river from an overlook (click the photo). Morgan's hiking limit is 2 miles so this was just right for her. There were lots of people and kids on this hike so a popular place to be on a Thursday morning.

Six of our RV rig guests signed for the 23 day tour and today is day 23. We had a pizza party to say good-bye. It is surprising to me how close friends you can become in 23 days of travel together. We have really enjoyed everyone and sorry to see them part from us. In the photo from the left are Bo, Cheri, Tony, Helen, Karl, Bill, Bonnie, Gail, Jim (I called him James), and Donna. I also surprised myself by learning ALL the names in about a day. We continue with nine rigs plus the Trekmaster and us.

We take a fun trolly tour of Anchorage View of downtown Anchorage and of the many float planes from our trolly Our afternoon visit to the museum found the discovery center for kids of all ages

The adventure continued at the "Mayer's Cup" baseball game.Wednesday, July 13, 2016: This is our first full day in Anchorage. There is so much to do and see, we are hoping for more days but know we must see as much as we can in two days.

We begin the day with a trolley tour of the city. The tour was made most enjoyable by our driver, an ESL and Spanish teacher in Anchorage. Although she let us know that she has retired from that job to be a full time mom with a 14 month old baby at home. She talked non-stop during the bus ride and if we could have remembered everything we would know much about the city and the history of the area. What I remember is that Alaskan's eat more ice cream per capita than the other states and one in sixty residents is a pilot. The float plane base was very busy with planes lines up to take off.

The afternoon was at another museum. This time is was the Anchorage museum. Four floors of art and history. I found the discovery center which was made for kids to explore scientific and physical laws. I enjoyed it as much as the kids did.

The final activity of the day was a "Mayor's Cup" baseball game with very talented college age young men. The "Pilots" won the game 3/0 and apparently very important to them with lots of calibrating. Click all photos for additional views.


Our final view of Mt. Denali as we drive toward Anchorage
Unique items at Anchorage Costco, a blackout cover and mosquito killing machine Tuesday, July 12, 2016: Be began our travel day by back tracking to view Mt. Denali since we had not seen it entirely. Then we made a U-turn for a short 90 mile trip to Anchorage. Click the Mt. Denali photo for a view of our crowded Anchorage RV Park. Once we arrived in Anchorage we drove to Costco before our RV park to get gas in the motorhome ($2.37/gallon). While in a new (to us) Costco I like to look for items which are unique to the local area. What I found in THIS Costco was a blackout panel (because the sun does not set until midnight) and a mosquito killing machine ($500). Additionally, I found a huge "dip-net" which seemed to be a hot seller. The photo shows the morning inventory and when I returned that same afternoon ( to make a return) the inventory was half gone. Click both these photos for additional views. Giant dip net
We finally see a moose and her baby
The view from the Grand Denali above our campground Monday, July 11, 2016: Gwen and I finally see a moose with her baby along side the road. Then we catch a view of the Alaska Railway train at the Denali Depot (click the moose photo to see the train). Just before leaving Denali we drive up to the Grand Denali located high on the mountain above our campground. The photo to the left is that view (on a rainy morning). Click the photo for a view of the resort sitting on the cliff. Then, off we go again to Talkeetna, a "hippy" town with interesting shops and restaurants. We start with the Talkeetna Historical Museum where we learn of the railroad and gold rush history of the town. This is also the town where climbers stay just before they ascend Mt. McKinley so we see a climbers exhibit in the museum. Click the museum receptionist Another museum, this one, the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum in Talkeetna
photo for another view of the town. Nearby, we found a Birch syrup manufacturer where we learned the process to tap then make syrup from the many Birch trees located in this area. They use the same process as for Maple syrup using the same equipment. Of course we had to sample taste the product at the different stages of process. Many of us bought bottles which are slightly more expensive than Maple syrup because it takes 100 gallons of Birch sap to make one gallon of syrup making the processing time longer.
Walking to the Nenana River pedestrian bridge Sunday, July 10, 2016: Gwen, Morgan and I took a walk to the Nenana River pedestrian bridge. The bridge is about one mile from our RV park. This long of a walk was a "stretch" for Morgan. She begins "dragging" after a mile. The Nenana River is mostly fed by glacier melt during the summer months and carries a lot of glacier silt making it look muddy. During the winter months, the glaciers stop melting and the river is clear. Click these photos for additional views. Looking to the river down the raft slide

The "Green Shuttle Buses" take us 66 miles into the park
The road to the Eiselton Viewpoint Having fun with a National Park display Bo takes a photo of Karl and Helen during a rest stop
Saturday, July 9, 2016: Our guests take a "shuttle bus" sixty-six miles into Denali Park. This is where we get our first view of the mountain. Before the tour began we had our first real dilemma with the guests. We were lucky to see the mountain with rain and clouds in the forecast. The best view was at the 66 mile mark where our bus turned around. We were always hoping for wildlife viewing along the way. We were delighted to see goats, caribou, rabbit, moose and grizzly bear. Most of what we saw was very distant so only a spot on a mountain. Binoculars help and most riders had them. Click these photos for another view. The entire tour was 8 hours but as one guest mentioned, "the mountain view was worth it."
Rainbow RV Park near Denali National Park
Friday, July 8, 2016: This was a travel day from Fairbanks, Alaska to Denali National Park. We settled into Rainbow Village RV Park just behind all the souvenirs, ice cream and pizza shops. The weather was partly cloudy when we arrived but turned into rain late. We are not able to see Mt. Mckinley from our RV location. Not even sure where it is located. We have a very early tour bus tomorrow morning so hope to see the mountain then.
Train ride to the Dredge #8 Gwen panned for gold with success ($25 worth) A view of the Alaskan oil pipeline to Valdez
Thursday, July 7, 2016: Today was Gwen's turn to lead the guests on the next tour. Today's tour was to Dredge #8 then to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. She and the guests first boarded a train for transportation to the dredge. While on the train the lecture began about the operation of the dredge. As the train arrived, Yukon, stood on the dredge platform lecturing of the history of the dredge. The group took a short tour of the dredge then panned for gold with a guarantee to find some. Gwen's haul was worth $25. There was a whole counter of dredge employees ready to put Gwen's $25 of gold into a $50 necklace. Gwen lead the group from the dredge to the information station concerning the Trans-Alaskan Oil Pipeline. The line transfers oil from far north Alaska to Valdez in southern Alaska. We will be visiting Valdez later in the trip. Click each of the photos for additional views.
Folks are lined up to experience -40 degrees and have their photo taken too. A choice of hats in the gift shop Boarding the Discovery III
The boat turn around and immediately we are entertained by a float plane Captain Ken keeps his eyes on the river Traditional Athabascan Coat, handmade
Diesel, hydrolic powered Wednesday, July 6, 2016: Today was a tour on an "authentic" paddlewheel, four story river boat. We arrived a bit early so at first we thought we might be the only tourists, however, soon buses full of cruise ship passengers began to arrive and filled the river boat. The announcer told us NOT to wait in line but to visit the gift shop before the cruise began. One of the popular attractions was the "40 below room" where your photo was taken in Alaskan winter weather. Today's temperature was 56 degrees below zero. The folks were lined up for the experience. Harold and Kathy struggled with hat choices. Gwen and I have matching coats too! Once we boarded and turned around, we were immediately entertained by a float plane pilot taking off and flying around the boat then landing again. The announcer interviewed the pilot for all to hear. Captain Ken maneuvered the boat on the river for about two miles which would not have been very exciting except for the skillful announcer who educated and entertained us along the short trip. We docked at a reproduction Athabascan Village. Teenage Athabascan students gave us a personal tour of the village and educated us with the Athabascan culture. Dog sledding is very popular in Alaska as a Departing the tour
sport. The boat stopped while the announcer interviewed the daughter of mushier Susan Butcher for all to hear. She was also present at the Athabascan village for a Q & A session with tourists. The boat is powered by diesel engines powering hydraulic pumps, no steam engine for this boat. This was not a cheap tourist attraction so I had doubts about it's value for a two mile trip. It was very professional, entertaining and educational so I enjoyed the ride and would recommend it. Be sure to click the photos for additional views.
Plug in your car during winter months Too much to see at the museum in 3 hours.

Lynne and Blaire examine a museum display


Tuesday: July 5, 2016: The University of Alaska has built an impressive museum of Alaskan history and natural history. We scheduled 3.25 hours at the museum but learned there is far too much to see and do at the museum in that short time.

When I parked I noticed a strange looking "meter" at each parking space. I quickly learned they were not meters but electrical outlets. During the winter months when the temperatures are -30° F or lower, most Alaskan cars are set up with an AC plug to keep the oil warm. Visitors to the museum have no need to worry about the cold weather with the University providing electrical outlets.

Alaskan river banks provide a source of dinosaur bones plus fossils and the museum has several displays.

In addition to the displays, there are historical and natural history videos shown every hour. The videos plus the amount of stores to read left us with time short.

Click the photos for additional views.

The antler arch to enter FairbanksMonday, July 4, 2016: Happy Independence Day. The photo shows the "Antler Arch" built of more than 100 moose and caribou antlers. It was built by Sandy Jamieson as an arch to walk through into the city of Fairbanks. Each antler has a story.

"A goal of the arch is to bring attention to the bike and walking paths along the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks, and to encourage people to make the short four-minute walk between the Morris Thompson Center and the Golden Heart Park. “It’s certainly going to be a tourist attraction. You can tell that already by the number of people who came by and took pictures as we were building it,” said Sandy Jamieson, local artist and cabin-builder who oversaw the installation of the antlers. “I always like seeing an antler or a skull out in nature. Some nice vines growing throughout the antlers in the summer would invoke the common experience of being out in the woods and connecting with nature.”

End of the Alaskan Highway marker at Delta Junction Sunday, July 3, 2016: I'm wearing my Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) hat when standing with Gwen in front of the "End of the Alaskan Highway" marker in Delta Junction, Alaska. It is about 250 miles inside the Canada/Alaska border. We continue toward Fairbanks to the River View RV Park in North Pole, Alaska, about 11 miles from Fairbanks. We arrived in time to join Ray and Bo at the Fairbanks visitor center. It's a beautiful building with videos, history and wildlife exhibits plus lots of gifts and books to buy. Click both photos for additional views. While at the visitor center, we got this report of today's sunrise/sunset data. Fairbanks Visitor Center
Still traveling through the Yukon toward Alaska
Our first stop in Alaska was at the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge

Saturday, July 2, 2016: This was a travel day from the Cottonwood RV Park south of Destruction Bay, YT to Tok, AK in the USA. Our first stop was with friends, Bill and Bonnie for breakfast at Buckshot Betty's in Beaver Creek, YT, (click the photo above) the most westerly community in Canada. The US border is only 19 miles further west. Buckshot Betty was recommended to us. Food was good but slow, slow, slow. We were concerned about the condition of the road between Cottonwood and the US border. It was rough (lots of bouncing and slow going) but not as bad as we had anticipated. We were also concerned about the crossing back into the US but Ms. Wolf, the customs agent, was very friendly and when she learned we were the "tailgunners" for the 16 other rigs in our group complimented our group on how well prepared we were. The photo below is of the border crossing with Bill and Bonnie in the fifth wheel ahead of us.

Just into Alaska is the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge. A huge 1094 square miles of wilderness along the

Hearing about gold and sled dogs

flyway for the birds who travel south during the winter. We enjoy stopping at the visitor centers. Most have videos which quickly provide the traveler with all the information.

When we arrived in Tok, set up camp (click the photo below), we all visited the Burnt Paw to learn about sled dogs. Sled dog racing is a very popular sport in Alaska. The dogs are specialized to a particular style race and also to their position on the team. The mushers are considered the "coach" for their athletic team (of dogs). Click the photo above/right to see Bill who told us about sled dogs.

Finally, we visited the Jack Wade Gold Company where our guest got to hold a five pound gold nugget and shop for nugget jewelry. We also learned of mining for gold nuggets and the history of gold prospecting in Alaska.

Crossing the border into Alaska
The view from our front window today

Friday, July 1, 2016: Today is Canada Day, the day Canada chose to celebrate their separation from the British empire (without a war). We spent Canada Day at the Cottonwood RV Park on the shore of Lake Kluane. We did drive to the nearby village for a drink of soda and picked up a few souvenirs at the gift shop too. The photo at the left is our front window view across the lake. This is Gail's rig, a retired veterinarian. She got a prime location because she has a small RV. Click her photo for a wider view of Blair and Lynne's rig on the left and Bill and Bonnie's pickup on the right.

Canada switched to the metric system many years ago. The US was to switch back in the 70s when I was teaching fifth grade but too many uneducated rednecks kept it from happening. After Canada switched, the pulled out most of the "Mile Markers" and replaced with kilometer markers. The one at the right is one of the few left standing. Click the photo for a view of the lake from the RV park deck.

One of the few remaining mileposts
When Gwen and I took this job we were a little concerned because we knew we would be staff on a tour with travelers different from us and different from most of the folks we travel with. We consider ourselves "poor" (financially). We both retired early from careers which do not pay well. As a college administrator/instructor I was paid half what the average career would be paid for someone with a master's degree. So, our retirement income is limited. Virtually everyone on this tour is a millionaire or multi-millionaire and one may be a billionaire. I have found it interesting that we "fit-in" and seem to be liked. Second, we have been full-time RV people since 2006 (ten years). That means our motorhome is our "home". One "guest" is a new full-timer and this is her first trip. All the rest have wonderful "big-rigs" but these are their "vacation-mobiles" so they think differently about their RV experience than we do. It's NOT home, they are away from "home" on vacation. I believe that makes a difference. Third, this park, Cottonwood, has a sign in their shop which reminded me of number three. Gwen and I spend a lot of time dry camping (boondocking). We've learned from the very best boondockers how to do it comfortably, mostly during our winter stays in Arizona (there is a learning curve to dry camping comfortably). We've equipped our motorhome to be comfortable without any sort of connection. We know from experience that 95% of RVers travel from one RV park to another to get "full hook-ups". But we are part of the 5% who don't worry about hook-ups and even prefer a more wilderness setting with NO hook-ups. The 15 amp service (my low-voltage alarm alerts several times each day so it's poor electrical service too) is a huge challenge to many in our group so they have been running their generators to get better electrical service. If you are dry camped, you must use a lot less energy (especially if you don't want to listen to a generator) and meter your energy use. It's thinking differently and you must plan ahead. Two nights at Cottonwood has been tough on the 95%. The park management actually handed out a page telling what appliances would work on 15 amps and which would NOT work. (Most of your house lighting is on a 15 amp circuit but power outlets would be on a 20 amp circuit.)
Almost to Alaska
DC-3 "weather vane" in Whitehorse Campfire and story telling with the "Guests" Guests on Lake Kluane, largest lake in the Youkon.
Thursday, June 30, 2016: Continuing north from Whitehorse to Cottonwood RV Park near Destruction Bay, still in the Yukon. As we were driving out of town we passed a DC-3 mounted perfectly balanced at the Whitehorse International Airport. It acts at a large weathervane because it with rotate with the wind direction. It was raining as we left Whitehorse and continued to rain until we reached Haines Junction and Lake Kluane. The rain kept the dust down on the graveled "chip seal" sections but splattered wet sand onto our vehicles. Click the large photo above to see what I mean. Our camp at the Cottonwood RV Park is the most scenic yet because we are right on Lake Kluane (pronounced clue-on-ee) western shore, largest in the Yukon. Three of our "guests" have shoreline campsites. We enjoyed a shoreline campfire and story telling time while a couple of kayakers paddled by and Robin walked his cat. Sunset was a 11:53 pm with sunrise at 3:30 am today. This park had diesel generators for power and each campsite has only 15 amp of power. The folks with the "big-rigs" are freaking out and running their generators. Click the photos for additional views. We have noticed, most of the BC and Alberta (no service) campgrounds were $24 - $26 Canadian dollars per night, the Yukon (no service) campgrounds are $12 Canadian dollars per night. This RV park with 15 amps power, water, and dump station is $40 Canadian per night. Garbage must be taken with the camper.
The Yukon River Quest started at noon today. Miles Canyon, a historical location for the gold rush Gwen crossing the Miles Canyon suspension bridge.

The Yukon Visitor Center is a very busy location. Wednesday, June 29, 2016: We began this day with laundry in downtown Whitehorse. We finished the laundry just in time to see the start of the Yukon River Quest. The YRQ is a three day canoe, kayak and paddle board race to Dawson City. More than 200 participants are competing this year.

Next, we drove to, then hiked to the Miles Canyon trail. The canyon is a location on the Yukon River where the 1897-98 prospectors had to portage their goods around the narrow canyon. Today, the dam down river has raised the water level where boats can easily pass through the canyon. A suspension walking bridge was built in 1922 to allow hikers access to the other side of the Yukon River.

I have spent several hours in the visitor center because they have free WiFi which is hard to come by in the Yukon. Our RV park in Whitehorse has free WiFi however it would not allow me to upload the photos or pages for this Webpage hence my time in the visitor center.

While at the laundry this morning I became interested in the public notice bulletin board. A photo of the notices is behind the visitor center photo. Click ALL the photos for additional views.

SS Klondike II in Whitehorse, YT From the deck of the SS Klondike II looking at the Yukon River Population and hours of light in the Yukon

Big 3 day paddle race begins tomorrow.Tuesday, June 28, 2016: The day began with a tour of the SS Klondike II built in 1937 and used until 1955 to haul ore from Dawson City to Whitehorse on the Yukon River. The trip downstream (from Whitehorse to Dawson City) took 1.5 days, the trip upstream took 5 - 6 days. Wood was used at a heat source to create steam. The boiler would burn 1 cord per hour. Since the boat carried 25 cords of firewood, it could steam for one day before reloading firewood. The ore carried was taken to a smelter in search of silver. The Yukon River is pictured next to the steamer. This is a popular tourist attraction in Whitehorse. Click the photos of the steamer for additional views.

I included the population of the Yukon and behind that photo, the hours of daylight for each month. If you desire lots of space, the Yukon is sparsely populated. Our next stop is Destruction Bay with only 46 residents and the power comes from a diesel generator. We find ourselves going to bed at 10 or 11 pm and it is still light.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the Yukon River Quest, a paddle race using canoe, kayak or paddle board to travel with the current from Whitehorse to Dawson City. This is a three day event and seems well run with equipment examinations before the participant is registered. Behind the race advertisement is a photo of a German tour bus with 24 tourists and two staff. They eat, sleep and sight-see from padded seats in this bus. We had to walk down the street to see the German tourists and the bus.

Tlinkit totum poles outside the heritage center gift shop Monday, June 27, 2016: A short travel day (115 miles) from Teslin to Whitehorse, YT (Yukon Territory). We arrive mid-afternoon after several of our guests got a late start. We stopped at the Tlinkit Heritage Center to see their arts and crafts and visit the gift shop. Yes, we found some very nice gifts to bring back to the states. Next we stopped at the Johnson Crossing Lodge and campground. There are a very few lodges between the larger settlements in the Yukon. This one had lodging, fuel, camping, gift shop, and a bakery. We stopped to make sure none of our guests had pulled in then were attracted to the bakery items. I got a cherry turnover for Gwen and a cinnamon bun for me. I also purchased a cherry, raspberry scone for tomorrow's breakfast to share. Click the totem poles to see the lodge. Once we setup at the Pioneer RV Park near Whitehorse (click the right photo) we drove into town for a free visitor pass (so we did not need to feed the parking meters) and a few grocery items. We experienced locking grocery carts for the first time. You Locking grocery shopping carts, what a great way to teach shoppers to return their carts.
must fit a Loony (one dollar Canadian coin) horizontally into the slot then insert the key vertically. This unlocks the chain from the cart in front letting you shop as you please. When you empty the cart at your vehicle and return to the parking lot cart kiosk, the chain from the cart in front of your cart is inserted into the far side of the locking mechanism. This releases the key and chain on your cart thus giving back your Loony What a great idea to teach shoppers to be responsible by returning their cart to the kiosk.
Walking to the Rancheria Falls Reaching the Caseron Mountains Crossing the Teslin Bridge into Teslin, YT
Yukon Motel RV ParkSunday, June 26, 2016: Another travel day from Watson Lake to Teslin, Yukon Territory. Along the way we stopped at a short hike to Rancheria Falls on the Rancheria River. We saw lots of L-O-N-G views of tree covered hills and mountains. We also saw evidence of huge forest fires and of forests recovering from fire. The distances here are so vast I can't imagine trying to control a forest fire. When Gwen and I accepted the job of "tailgunner" for this tour group I couldn't understand the need for a tailgunner. For the last three days we have been traveling without cell service and the distances between towns is long. I imagine we are often 100 miles or more from the nearest tow truck or ambulance so I'm beginning to understand the need for a tailgunner. Also, the group really needs more than a "leader" to function smoothly. Today was the "wine and cheese" social at the end of the day. We helped Vicki prepare for the social event. Tomorrow is a relatively short drive (115 miles) into Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon where we will spend several days and give a chance for all of us to catch our breath since we have been moving each day. Click each photo for additional views. Behind the photo at left is the wine and cheese social. It is a panorama photo so scroll left and right to see the entire scene.
How my day starts Wood Bison in the road We made it to the Yukon!
Watson Lake, Yukon Sign Post Forest I'm installing the sign 360 degree panorama, scroll left/right

The story of how it started, click to read the WHOLE story

Saturday, June 25, 2016: Another travel day from Laird Hot Spring, BC to Watson Lake, YT (Yukon Territory). My day begins with preparing coffee for the guests and having it available by 6 am. The departure page is on the coffee table where guests sign out with the time of departure. We saw more wild life today, bears, rabbit and Wood Bison. The entire drive today followed the Liard River, one of the larger Canadian rivers. Our destination is Watson Lake, Yukon where the Sign Post Forest is located. On request, I had prepared a sign for our 50 Day Adventure Trek. Since I made the sign, I also got to install the sign which made me (and my sign) the "star" for about ten minutes. When these guests get home and show their photos of the Alaska adventure, I will be in all the photos. The photo directly above and to the right links (by clicking the photo) to a 360° panorama so you will need to scroll right and left to view the entire 360°. The photo to the right links to the story of how the Sign Post Forest began and grew. Click ALL photos for additional views of the day. Did you know the Yukon was NOT a Provence but a Territory? I didn't know that until this week.

pavement to gravel Stone Sheep Road construction creats lots of dust and covers the toad
Endless view of trees in British Columbia More Stone Sheep Two lane road, sometimes narrow with sharp turns
The wood walkway to the Liard Hot Spring Friday, June 24, 2016: A travel day from Fort Nelson, BC to Liard Hot Springs, BC. There was a lot to see today. I likes the motorcycle pavement to gravel warning sign. Someone in the Canadian DOT must have a sense of humor. We saw moose, Stone Sheep, and bears. There were many sections of road construction. I washed the car and motorhome at the RV wash in Fort Nelson but neither survived the road construction (just don't touch them until they are washed). We saw trees to the horizon at view points. When we reached our hot springs destination we were ready. The water temperature varied depending upon the distance from the source. Click each photo for another view. The Liard Hot Springs RV Park
14 ton, 28,000 lbs, motorhome=24,000, Forester=3,400 lbs so 27,400 lbs, Oh yea, we're safe. Still on the bridge Our Fort Nelson parking location at Triple G RV Park
Thursday, June 23, 2016: A travel day from Dawson Creek, BC to Fort Nelson, BC. We first found a loop road onto the original Alaska Highway with the only wood bridge still in use built in 1942 by the US Army. It still has a wood deck too. Yes, we did drive over the 14 ton limit bridge. Our motorhome weights 24,000 lbs, the car weighs 3,400 lbs for a total of 27,400 lbs. Plenty to spare. We got all kinds of weather today, sun, rain and strong wind in places. We passed over the mighty Peace River several times too. Click the photos for additional views.

Dawson Creek at dusk
Everyone takes a photo with the Mile 0 sign.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016: This is our first official day of the Adventure Trek (Day 1 of the 50 day Trek). All "guests" have shown up and all attended the presentation by the Dawson Creek Public Relations person. She gave a nice presentation of the history of DC and of the building of the Alaska Highway. After the presentation, we had another meeting to orient the guests and have self introductions.

During the day, Gwen and I visited the Dawson Creek visitor center and gift shop. We took photos with the "Mile Zero" sign like ALL the tourists do. We also visited Northern Lights College which I like to do. Click the photos for additional views.

Our first group activity, learning about Dawson Creek, BC

We've arrive in Dawson Creek, BC

Tuesday, June 21, 2016: This was a travel day from Grande Prairie, Alberta to Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Dawson Creek is the start point of the Alaska Adventure Trek and the point where each of the travelers are to report by June 22. Today was our day to report for orientation and to begin our duties. We met the TrekMaster's Guy and Vicki for the first time today. After orientation, Gwen went with Vicki to visit some of the "guests" who have shown up a day early. One of my duties is to put an identification sticker on the top rear of each RV. I began that while Gwen was with Vicki We were also delivered the coffee pots I will use to make coffee each morning on travel days. This morning coffee must be ready by 6 am so that means an early day for me. It won't be easy making a good cup of coffee from the Folger's brand provided to us but I'll practice with the measure of grounds to water to get the best taste. We were also give a large notebook of "tailgunner" duties and another of those duties is to get "guests" to "sign-out" on travel days so we know the time they are departing. Currently we are working on matching names to faces and to rigs so we can identify our "guests" if we see them on the road. So far, that seems to be going well. Click the photo to see our space in the Northern Lights RV Park.

GPRC: Grande Prairie Regional College across Bear Lake
Touring the interior of the college Inexpensive art Pleasant no matter the weather
The moon over Bear Lake from our Elks parking locationMonday, June 20, 2016: Across Bear Lake from our parking location at the Grande Prairie Elks Lodge is the GPRC Campus (Grande Prairie Regional College). This would be equivalent to a Junior College or Community College in the states. I picked up a GPRC hat so if you see me wearing it, you'll know what GPRC means. It's a beautiful campus with many academic and technical courses. Unlike most 2 year colleges in the states, this college has considerable student housing since the distances are so vast in Alberta. We are leaving Alberta tomorrow morning for British Columbia. We entered Alberta ten days ago and except for the strong windy days have enjoyed every minute. What I've noticed about Alberta: there are no fat people in Alberta, there is no litter (garbage and recycle bins are located every 10 km on the major highways), it is very green in June, there are MANY heavy equipment sales and repair locations, the Albertans are friendly, many cars have 110 volt plugs at their grill (to keep engine blocks warm during the winter), there are lots of really dirty cars (from driving the surrounding gravel roads), education is marketed much like it is in the USA, there is a lot of construction projects (maybe because there is a short seasonal window for construction), there are lots of indoor "arenas" for sports (I assume for winter activities), Tim Horton's and A & W Rootbeer are the two most popular fast food restaurants - those two seem to be in every town, when someone from Alberta learns I'm from the states they assume I'm going to Alaska, there is 18 hours of daylight in June, it appears Albertans like both summer and winter outdoor activities, I like "kilometers" much better than "miles" - they roll by faster, finally, there are no $50 cars. There are lots of $50 cars in the states (at least in Oregon). A $50 car is an older model, barely running, body shot, tires shot, usually no muffler, full of adults/kids not using seat belts. It's the car you are afraid to have close-by because you know they don't have insurance. Click the photos for additional views of the college.
Our best parking yet at the Grande Prairie Elks Club Saturday, June 18, 2016: We waited an extra day in Edmonton knowing the wind would be much less for driving to Grand Prairie today. It was much easier driving on a beautiful four lane road with little traffic the whole 443 km. After arriving we immediately took a walk with Morgan around the lake next to the Elks Club where we parked. Across the lake is the Rotary Campground where we met Ray, one of the 15 RVers to take the Alaska tour. He drove from Florida to take the tour so much more driving that we have had to do so far. Next, we wanted to see some of Grande Prairie so drove the two main streets in town. We passed Brown's Social House which we have seen in a few other Alberta cities so decided to visit. It turned out to be a sports bar with Canadian Rugby on most of the TV screens. Canada was playing Germany and was ahead until the last few seconds win Germany scored and won the match. No one in Brown's seemed to care, they were too busy socializing with the folks at their table. Click the photos for additional views. Brown's Social House where Canadian Rugby is on TV
Looking for parts at Canadian TireFriday, June 17, 2016: I brought my little air compressor so I could help the folks in our tour if needed. Today, I wanted to add air to a couple of my rear tires but I discovered the inner tire needed to accessed straight through one of the holes in the rim. My air nozzle would not seat against the valve because the valve fitting was at an angle. I decided to visit Canadian Tire, a store I discovered was cross between a Home Depot and a Fred Meyer store. They did not have a nozzle which was any different from what I already owned so I chose to get a valve extension which might allow my nozzle to work. While shopping for valve parts, Gwen walked the entire store and found some special pots and pans. I had to see this set of six pans because the price was $2799.00. That's a lot for a set of six pans. It DID make the $300 set look like a bargain price. Click the photo for a view of these special pans. After adding the valve extension, my nozzle fit the valve but I couldn't add air, probably because of the funky shape of the valve extension. I believe I'll just stop and add air at a tire shop.
The Hudson Bay company was a disappointment Across from the Apple Store, a Samsung S7 store. Miniature golf course inside the mall
Reminds me of Whole Foods in the states. Replica of the Santa Maria inside the mall next to the Sea Lion show Lots of fun for families.
Want to win a $560,000 Lamborgini? Thursday, June 16, 2016: Gwen and I spent most of the day in the West Edmonton Mall, the largest in North America. It is all indoors, no doubt the winter weather here makes this mall very popular in the winter months. It contains 800 stores (5% were empty) plus a miniature golf course, more than full size replica of the Santa Maria, a Sea Lion show, ice rink, IMAX theater, largest indoor amusement park with three roller coasters, huge water park with slides and wave pool, and European village. My High Achievers reward for Junior High students
impressions: at least 80% of the stores were clothing related, there were NO fat people in this mall, I was disappointed when I didn't find anything unique (except the Hudson Bay Store and the Samsung S7 Store), I didn't see many people with bags (purchases) and we purchased nothing, the Hudson Bay store was a disappointment (felt like an expensive Macy store), I was tempted to buy a $20 raffle ticket for a $560,000 Lamborgini until I calculated I couldn't afford the insurance to drive it nor could I afford an oil change, Tim Horton fixed us a good lunch, at least 80% of the stores and their inventory is to appeal to teens and twenties. I met the Junior High teacher who brought her students to the Amusement Park for the day. Only the students who achieved 80% or higher scores could attend. I watched them ride the largest and fastest roller coaster and all were still smiling at the end of the ride. I also watched an oriental lady insist on the orange, live, Talapia at the T & T market. After a loud warning horn, I watched the wave machine create waves for the swimmers in the wave pool. Click each of the photos for additional views.

Our first RV park in Alberta, Glowing Embers in Edmonton
First things first, let's visit a Canadian Costco
Wednesday, June 15, 2016: A travel day from Calgary to Edmonton, Alberta. We searched the Internet for a Provincial Recreation Area or some place free to park. We finally found free casino parking but did not like the noise since it was surrounded by four lane roads. We chose to stay in the Glowing Embers RV Park for $42.53 per night. Of course I have been listing fees in Canadian dollars since arriving in Canada equal to .8 US dollars. Our goal when we arrived was to visit the casino first to learn if we wanted to park for free, we didn't, then visit our first Canadian Costco hoping for some Canadian treasures but found none. It was fun, however, walking through Costco multiplying their prices by .8 to learn of the "real cost" to us. I didn't find any deals. In fact, we did buy some Red Potato Salad thinking we had found a "Canadian Treasure" only to read the label learning it was made in Beaverton, Oregon. Gas was 98.9¢, cheaper than anyone else in town. Before you get too excited, that's per Liter NOT per Gallon. 98.9 x 3.78 = $3.74 Canadian dollars per gallon or $2.99 US dollars per gallon. Edmonton is home to the West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America. Over 800 stores. I hope to visit all 800 tomorrow but Gwen has no such goal. We'll see how that goes. The drive today was through rolling hills of grassland. When off the freeway we saw farmhouses scattered a mile apart with what appears to be cultivated grass for hay between them. Lots of horses and many large barns probably for the horses during the winter months. Everything is GREEN.

Ghost Reservoir Dam, our camping area
A "Texas Gate"Tuesday, June 14, 2016: This was a rest day compared to the driving we did yesterday. I made adjustments to the CB antenna and took Morgan on several walks. Then I walked myself to the Ghost Reservoir Dam where I found a sign warning to be sure the ice was a minimum of 10 cm thick before walking on it. 10 cm is only four inches, I think I'd like to have even MORE than 10 cm of ice. Only a few sailboats are moored but many are parked on dry land with masts erected, ready to launch. The wind has not stopped blowing so I imagine a great reservoir for sailing. Finally, we came across several "Texas Gates" during our drive yesterday. A "Texas Gate" is what we call a "cattle guard". Gwen and I found the name strange, not sure why "Texas" gets the credit for the idea of keeping cattle in an area without the use of a gate. Click the above photo to see the ice warning sign.

A cement plant to the west of Cochrane
Entering Banff
Downtwon Banff Southwest of Banff
Entering the Lake Louise Village Gwen photographing Lake Louise with Morgan The Fairmont on the shores of Lake Louise
Walking the path from Lake Louise Monday, June 13, 2016: This was an adventure day into the Banff National Park (entrance fee $16 for two seniors, it would have been free in the USA with our Senior Access Passes). This is the heart of the Canadian Rockies. It was busy and crowded today but seemed obvious to me that their real season is the winter sports season. As we came closer to the Rockies we saw a large industrial plant across the river. We learned it was a cement plant because of all the lime stone in the mountain. The city of Banff is a tourist town like many we have Wild animal crossing over the Canadian Highway 1
seen. Gwen bought a Banff T-shirt, socks, post cards and sticker for the motorhome. I bought nothing, maybe next year. We then drove on west on the trans-Canada highway to Lake Louise. Very impressive scenery although we couldn't see the tops of the mountains due to the cloud cover. The water was turquoise from the melting glaciers. Hundreds of oriental tourists, perhaps from Japan but from Korea also. The Fairmont Hotel Resort was outstanding. The four lane Trans-Canada Highway had high fences on both sides to keep out wildlife. The allow the wildlife a method to cross the freeway, there were wildlife overpasses every 5 km. This was an area which really needs to be hiked to enjoy to it's fullest. We saw many day hikers and backpackers doing just that. Click all photos for additional views. After visiting Lake Louise, we drove a short distance on the Icefield Parkway to learn if it would be OK for the motorhome. We found it to be a wide two lane smoothly paved road so probably OK but it is nearly 300 km to the drive out of the mountains. It rained on the return to our campground but only cloudy weather as we left the mountains.
Typical Alberta that we drove today after getting out of the Rockies

Sunday, June 12, 2016: A long driving day from Crowsnest Pass, Alberta to Ghost Reservoir Campground near Cochrane, Alberta. It seemed a long day of driving with 30 - 40 mph winds making the travel tough. Once out of the Rockies, the terrain flattens into grassland for as far as you can see. Click the photo on the left for a better view of our typical driving today.

We arrived in Cochrane, Albert and followed a sign to the Riverbend Campground which turned out to be a Good Sam RV Park for $40

Ghost Reservoir Campground near Cochran
per night. We saw lots of rigs parked 10 feet from each other. We decided a long time ago we don't want to be like the 95% who drive from one RV park to another and must have full hook ups. The map showed a Provincial Park only a few kilometers so we headed in that direction and found the Ghost Reservoir Campground with very private sites for $26. Nope! No hook ups but we don't need any. We are surrounded by Aspen Trees, not other RVs. I thought the $26 was a little steep but I had to remember, this site at a US Forest Service campground would have been only $13 with our Senior Access Pass. We don't get that discount in Canada. Click the right photo for a better view of our camp location. We chose this campground because it is on 62 Km to Banff. The side trip we want to do tomorrow.

Entering Canada
Traveling toward the Canadian Rockies The rockies are coming closer
Lundbreck Falls Campground Saturday, June 11, 2016: A travel day from Hayden, Idaho to Lundbreck, Alberta Canada. This was our first time entering Canada with a motorhome. We had read all the information online but had few worries. We had some dog food in a dog food container but read online that all dog food had to be in original packaging. We had frozen chicken breasts in the freezer but online it says "no raw meat". We are also towing the Forester which is new enough the state of Oregon has not sent us the registration documents yet. I was hoping the paperwork I had from the dealer would be good enough. We it came Lundbrecht Falls
to our turn in the one Canadian Customs line open by the one Canadian Customs officer, she asked how soon we would leave Canada, did we have any firearms, did we have any pepper spray or bear spray, did we have any alcohol, did we have more than $10,000 in cash inside the motorhome and when was the last time we were arrested? Nothing about pets, food are vehicle registration. We breezed through in less than a minute. The customs officer congratulated me, "you had all the right answers." The rest of the day was driving east through the Canadian Rockies with some incredible mountain views. We spent the night at the Lundbreck Falls Campground on the east side of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Click the photos for additional views.

Finally found the chair I was looking for.Friday, June 10, 2016: Gwen and I spent some time with her friends in Hayden, Idaho. When Gwen and her friend Penny took themselves to lunch, I drove around looking for a new chair. The two chairs we purchased from Costco a year ago (the Oregon and Oregon State chairs) were falling apart due to failing rivets. I took them back to Costco and got a full refund. Gwen found HER chair right away but I had to have one which would support my head in a "nap position". You'd think I was looking for something gold plated. After half a dozen stores including REI and Cabellas, I finally found what I was looking for at Wal-Mart.

While shopping, I stopped at "Zip's" a fast food restaurant I had not heard of. They used a 1960 Zip's menu as a place mat. I occasionally tell the story that I got my first job (as a paperboy) when I was 12 years old because I didn't want to ask my parents for a quarter to buy a pineapple milkshake at the local Tasty Freeze. My children didn't believe I could buy a milkshake for a quarter. Now I have proof. The 1960 Zip's menu clearly shows the price of a milkshake to be 24¢. Click the photo to see the menu. I don't think my parents ever knew the REAL reason I got that job. It did TWO things for me. I didn't have to ask for the quarter and I didn't have to ask PERMISSION to get a milkshake. I just rode myself to the Tasty Freeze on my bike and bought their pineapple milkshake. Today's price for a pineapple milkshake at Zip's was $2.99.

Lots of wheat in northern Idaho

Thursday, June 9, 2016: This was a travel day from Moscow, Idaho to Hayden, Idaho. Since leaving Boise, we have been traveling through wheat fields, a few barley, garbanzo beans and canola bean fields. The terrain is rolling hills compared to yesterday's mountains. The motorhome handles the rolling hills well but we spent a lot of time in second gear at 30 MPH while in the mountains. We arrived at the Hayden Elks club before noon. They have 30 RV spots on grass with 50 amps and water hookups. The fee is $20 per night. Just to be on grass and not gravel is a PLUS in my book. Again, this is a quiet, dark but not-so-cheap location. Click the photo to see the Elks parking.

Lots of roadwork on Highway 95 Wednesday, June 8, 2016: We continue north from "Last Chance" to Moscow, Idaho the home of the University of Idaho. Now we have left Highway 55 and are traveling 95 where there is a lot of road work. These two cyclists hop aboard the guide vehicle to avoid the chip-seal project and lots of loose gravel. I'm hoping we won't have this all the way to Alaska. We have been to Moscow previously and know of a (secret) parking location which is perfect for us, dark, quiet and cheap. It is Robinson Lake Park with only 6 RV spaces. The spaces have 50 amp power but no water Our camping location with 50 amp of power
or sewer (fine for us). The fee was $5. This is a county park. As soon as we arrived, it began to hail with a thunderstorm and the weather remain "electrical" for the rest of the evening. We enjoyed this because the last few days have been too hot for our taste. Morgan loved laying in the wet, cool grass. We unhitched and drove downtown to wash the Forester (a MUST for Gwen) even though we knew it was going to rain. No doubt Gwen wanted to have the assurance that the car could be "saved" from the gravel road yesterday. Click both photos for additional views.
Traveling north of Boise into Idaho Tuesday, June 7, 2016: We left Boise by 11 am traveling north on Highway 55 toward McCall, Idaho. This is two lane highway mostly following the Payette River. In some cases winding our way into deep canyons with steep ascents and descents. We tried looking in McCall for the night on the Payette Lake but I was discouraged with the $36 price tag. Instead, we drove on toward New Meadows and found a sign pointing to the "Last Chance" campground. Once I made the turn off Highway 55, THEN you could see the sign "Campground 2 No honey, the car won't get dirty!
miles" on a gravel road. "Don't worry", I told Gwen, "I'll drive slowly and the motorhome will protect the car, it won't get dirty." After the 2 miles, we were rewarded with a wonderful camp spot for only $7.50. Click the left photo to see our quiet, dark, private camp location. Click the right photo to see Gwen rescuing the Forester. Even Gwen appreciated our location.
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