Sunday, August 24, 2014

Trip Recap and Lessons Learned

Now that we have been home for a week we thought it might be good to provide some of the stats from our trip.  Also, we wanted to provide some “Lessons Learned” that future Alaska travelers might find helpful.  Thanks to all who followed our trip these past couple months. It was truly a trip of a lifetime.

Trip Stats

Miles driven 8866
Days on the road 41
Gallons of gas used 952
Average price of gas $4.41
Highest gas price $5.68 in Dease Lake BC
Lowest gas price $3.31 in Chandler AZ
Nights in RV parks 16
Nights in state/forest/city parks 18
Nights boondocking 6


Lessons Learned

Reservations – With the exception of reservations at Denali we did not find it necessary to have reservations at RV parks or campgrounds.  In general, we stopped for the day in mid afternoon and had no problems finding a place to stay.  Toward evening a few of the parks did start to fill up but there were usually some open spaces.  We stayed at the Riley Creek campground in Denali and it was full every night we were there and from what we heard that is typical for most of the summer.  The only other place that reservations might be a good idea is in Dawson Creek.  There are only a couple decent campgrounds there and since many of the caravans form up there, the sites can go quickly.

Road Conditions – For the most part the roads were in very good shape.  A few exceptions were:  1. East of Grande Prairie AB there were several miles of frost heaves.  2. The northern 100 miles of the Cassiar Highway out of Watson Lake YT is very narrow with no markings.  There were many rough and gravel spots where we had to slow to 15 mph or so.  The rough spots seemed to come about every half mile so it was hard to make any time on that stretch.  3. By far and away the worst section of road was on the Alaska Highway south of Beaver Creek YT which is near the AK border.  That section is under construction where they have basically removed all of the pavement and all that’s left is a gravel (or mud) road.  This construction zone stretches for about 80 miles.  In general, most of the rough spots are flagged with small red flags on the shoulder.  You learn very quickly to keep a keen eye out for them.  One thing we noticed in BC, YT and AK was that they generally clear a huge area for the roads so there is at least 200 feet or more between the road edge and the tree line (called the verge).  This makes it very easy to spot animals coming onto the road.  The only time we felt that there was much risk of hitting an animal on the road was on the Cassiar Highway, which did not have the wide clearing.

Gas – Most travel sites and the Milepost book indicate that gas is available about every 50 miles or so along the Alaska Highway.  What we found was a lot of those stations were closed and there were a few stretches of at least 100-150 miles were there was no gas source.  Also, keep in mind that the sources that are available may not be normal gas stations.  In many cases, the gas sources are at RV parks or lodges and the prices are very, very high (law of supply and demand!).  At one RV Park we noticed a price that was right at $7 per gallon!  We traveled with three 5 gallon cans of gas, one of which was designated for emergency use only, so we could use from those reserves which helped us to avoid the extremely high prices.  Even at that, we paid a maximum price of $5.68 at Deese Lake BC.  If we were going to repeat the trip again we would take at least 20 to 25 gallons of extra in cans to avoid the high prices.

Driving in Canada – We found driving in Canada fairly easy once you got accustomed to the kilometer speed limits.  We found the road markings for lanes to be a little different than in the US but it didn’t caused any real problems.  In general, the speed limits are a little lower than in the US with typical limits being 56, 62, and 68 mph.  Driving in Alberta was just like being at home but when we got into BC and Yukon we found that the local drivers basically disregarded the posted speed limits and worse yet complete ignored the no passing zones.  They had no problem passing on curves and with oncoming traffic.  We witnessed several “near misses”.  Part of what may be the cause of this is there is basically no visible law enforcement in northern BC or Yukon.  From the time we left Edmonton until we got into southern BC near Prince George we only saw one law enforcement officer on the road.  We did find Alaska to be fairly heavily patrolled.

Border Crossing – In general, the border crossings were much simpler than we were lead to believe.  All total we did six crossings and with one exception it only took a few minutes each time.  One of the things that was very evident in researching the border crossing rules is that there are significant limits on bringing food into Canada.  Since we were traveling with almost 10 weeks worth of food we were really concerned that there might be a problem.  We even went so far as to call the Canadian Border Service to understand exactly what the rules were.  What we found in our three crossings into Canada is that they did not once ask or even seem to care about what food we were bringing.  The only thing they really seemed to care about were: fire arms, fireworks, fire wood, pepper spray, tasers, or large sums of money. When coming back into the US we did get asked if we had any fruit or vegetables.  Unfortunately we had just bought some at a BC farmers market near the border.  This answer of course triggered a secondary inspection which included an inspection of our trailer.  The whole process only took a few minutes and they ended up taking nothing.

Money – We chose to pay for everything in Canada with cash.  Most of the RV parks and gas stations accepted Visa and Master Card but many of those cards, including ours, charge an additional 3% “foreign transition fee”.  That may not sound like much but when you are spending $150 to $175 for a fill up it adds up quickly.  Discover Card does not charge this fee but we only found one station, and it was near the border, which accepted Discover.  We got our Canadian money at our local bank before leaving home.  We did this believing it would be simpler than trying to find a bank after crossing the border.  We were able to get additional Canadian money in Fairbanks.  In addition to gas prices in Canada being very high the food costs are equally high.  We only visited a couple grocery stores but in general it seems the prices are 2 to 3 times what we would pay at home.  For example, we typically pay around $2 for a gallon of milk but in Canada it was going for over $6.  In Alaska the prices were more reasonable but were still about 25% higher than at home.  One exception was at Costco in Anchorage where the prices were almost identical to at home.  Since we had extra space in the truck bed we took enough food along for the complete trip so we only had to buy such things as bread and milk.

Tires/RV Care – Given the expected road conditions the tires on the trailer were our biggest concern prior to the trip.  Because of that concern we carried two mounted spares for the trailer.  During the course of the trip we did end up having two tire failures on the trailer and having that extra spare was a great comfort.  Had we not had the second spare there would have been a real sense of urgency to find a replacement after each failure but with the extra spare we could take our time finding the replacement. Our first failure occurred on the way home in southern BC (which is very populated). But even with that we had to visit three Canadian Tire stores before we could find the correct size tire and even at that they only had a bias tire instead of a radial.  We suspect it would be nearly impossible to find a replacement in Yukon or northern BC. We also carried some basic replacement parts for the RV such as vent covers because as expected we did not see any RV part stores between Grand Prairie AB and Fairbanks.  Be prepared to make to make “MacGyver” repairs by having such things as duct tape and baling wire.

Communications – Cell phone coverage across in Alberta and southern BC was generally very good but in Yukon and northern BC was very limited. The only time we had coverage on the Alaska Highway was near the “larger” towns of Watson Lake and Whitehorse.  In Alaska the coverage was fairly good.  We use Verizon so before leaving home we activated their “Canada/Mexico Plan”.  The plan is very good as it give you 1000 minutes of voice and unlimited texts for and additional $15 per month. Verizon also offers a data plan extension for Canada but there cost is $2.50 per Megabyte which is very expensive.  Even the Verizon rep said to turn off the data function on your phone before crossing the border.

WiFi - Most of the RV parks in Canada offer Wifi but there always seemed to be a “catch”.  One in Whitehorse said free wifi but in actuality it was only free for the first 30 minutes and required additional payment for more time.  Others would only allow one device to use the wifi. The RV park in Deese Lake made a big deal about having free wifi but they didn’t tell you that it shut off at 10 pm when the owner shut their generator down.  Our advice is to ask if the wifi is free and unlimited and where it is located. Avoid parks that advertise “Wifi” or “Wifi Available” as there is probably some catch!

Security - One thing you need to consider is personal security if you plan to do any road side camping.  Canada does not allow Americans to bring fire arms in to the country so you may want to consider an alternative.  After we crossed the border we purchased a large can of bear spray from an outdoor store.  While Canadian law will not allow you to have a small can of pepper spray they will allow you to have a huge can of bear spray!  When you purchase it you have to sign a statement that says you will not use it on another person.

Boondocking - We had heard from previous travelers that there were many opportunities to boondock on the Alaska Highway at road side pulloffs and old gravel pits along the way.  What we found was that many of the road side parks and pull offs in BC and YT are now marked with no overnight parking or camping signs.  We suspect this many be new.  All of the gravel pits were gated and locked.  In Alaska, there was no restriction at all so there were lots of boondocking opportunities there.

Tour Saver Book - If you plan to do any tours in Alaska the Tour Saver Book, which can be purchased at most Safeways for $100, is the best deal going.  We only did three tours but we saved over $200 with the book. The book contains over 130 buy one get one free coupons for all kinds of tours.  Be aware that in some cases the coupons have some restrictions.  For example, we took a Glacier Cruise out of Whittier and the coupon was only good for one of the several cruises that were offered.  The website for the Tour Saver Book lists all the coupons and identifies any restrictions that may apply so there is no surprise after purchasing the book. Also, be sure to not remove any of the coupons form the book. They need to be intact in the book when you use them. 

Milepost Book - Basically the Milepost book is a must have for the trip.  It provides an unbelievable amount of information and lists all the services, attractions, road conditions, and directions along the way.  The only negative thing we can say about the book is everything is indexed to mileposts (or kilometer posts) but the road has very few posts so it can be a challenge to determine where you are located unless you are following along continuously.

Tours - We took a number of tours on this trip and here are some of our observations

Denali Bus Trip - The only way to really experience Denali National park is to take one of the bus trips offered since the park road is only accessible to private cars for the first 16 miles.  The best of the park is well beyond that point.  The park offers two types of bus trips.  The first type is basically a shuttle which takes you to various points with the driver providing some narration along the way.  He does stop for wildlife where possible and you can get on and off the bus as desired.  The second type of trip is a ranger led tour bus which provides more in depth narration but you must stay on the bus for the complete trip.  We opted for the first type and were very pleased with our choice.  You can choose various length trips ranging from a few hours to a 12 hour trip.  We chose the 8 hour trip to the Eielson Visitor Center.  The tour bus is very basic and is really nothing more than a school bus but we found it comfortable for our 8 hour trip.  The driver did stop every hour and half for a restroom break. Note that there is no food in the park so you will want to pack a lunch.

Discovery Riverboat - We found the Discovery Riverboat from Fairbanks to be an exceptionally good value at $59 for two with the Tour Saver Coupon.  The boat leaves the dock near the airport and goes a few miles down the Chena river to where it joins with the Tanana river. Along the way they provide a float plane demonstration, dog sled presentation and near the Tanana river you stop for a visit at a recreated Athabascan Indian village.

Gold Dredge 8 - The Gold Dredge 8 is located a few miles north of Fairbanks.  The tour starts with a discussion of the Trans Alaska Pipeline which passed right next to their parking log.  After that we boarded a train for a short trip around the area.  At various points they stopped and different aspects of the mining operation were discussed and demonstrated.  The final stop was at the gold dredge itself which you could explore.  The highlight of the tour was the opportunity to pan for gold using pay dirt that they provided.  Once you separated out the gold you could take into the gift shop where they would weigh it and tell you how much it was worth.  Seemed like most people found $5 to $10 worth of gold.  We felt this tour was a great value at $39 for two using the Tour Saver Coupon.  A few miles south of the dredge on the east side of the road is a road side park that has some great info about the pipeline and you have easy access to the pipeline for photos.

Glacier Cruise - We took the Major Marine Blackstone glacier tour in the Prince William Sound.  The tour which is 4.5 hours long included lunch and was $119 for two with the Tour Saver Book.  We were lucky in that there were only 31 people on board so we had a lot of room. The boat which holds 125 passengers had two decks with enclosed seating with large windows.  In addition, you are free to roam outside where there are viewing areas on the front and rear of the boat.  The tour visits several glaciers and we were surprised with how close they actually got to the face of the glaciers.  We were able to view several harbor seals, four humped backed whales, a falcon, and thousands of kittiwakes. We felt the cruise was outstanding and would highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Alaska Adventure–Days 39 & 40

Note that there are TWO blogs in this entry, so be sure to scroll all the way down!!

Day 39 - Glenns Ferry ID to Beaver UT

We left the Twin Islands State park this morning under a light shower, which quickly cleared - giving us a great driving day.  The evening rains had washed the smoke from the air so we had some really nice views.  In this part of Idaho it’s wheat harvest time so the farmers were busy cutting wheat.  They had some fabulous fields to cut.  Most of it is irrigated, and there was not a weed to be seen.  The drive today was totally on the interstate so we made some good time even with having to go through the Salt Lake  City area.  All total we put in 477 miles, which is the biggest driving day we have had on this trip.  We called it a day at the Camperland RV park in Beaver UT which is a little over 100 miles from the AZ border. 

Beautiful wheat fields against the blue Idaho sky



Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 477 miles
Hours on road: 10 hours, 10 minutes
Gas prices: $3.69, $3.55, $3.90




Day 40 - Beaver UT to Happy Jack AZ

Shortly after leaving the RV park this morning it started raining and continued raining all day with very few breaks.  We found it interesting that driving all across Alberta, BC,  Yukon, and Alaska we had a few days were it rained but the most rain we had on the whole trip was across southern Utah and Arizona.  It was also interesting that the highest elevation we had on the whole trip as 7921 feet which we reached today at Jacob Lake AZ which is just north of the Grand Canyon.  We expected there to be some serious mountains on the Alaska Highway, but the highest pass was something like 3500 feet….hardly a bump!  This evening we are at one of our favorite boondocking sites in the Coconino Forest - near Happy Jack, AZ.  Tomorrow we will complete this adventure with an easy 150 mile drive home.

A pretty sky near Happy Jack, AZ - on Lake Mary road.  So green!


Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 369 miles
Hours on road: 8 hours, 5 minutes
Gas prices: $3.78, $3.64



Monday, August 11, 2014

Alaska Adventure–Days 37 & 38

Note that there are TWO blogs in this entry, so be sure to scroll all the way down!!

Day 37 - Merritt BC to Pasco WA

We left Merritt BC this morning with our sights set on the border, as we were only about 150 miles away.  Before reaching the border we again saw lots of logging and a huge saw mill just outside of Merritt.  Our route took us from Keremeos to Osoyoos BC, which to our delight is a huge fruit and vegetable area.  There were massive orchards of apples, peaches, and cherries along the way, in addition to fields of various vegetables.  The road through Keremeos was lined with farmer’s market stands where we picked up some cherries and apples.  In short order, we approached the border where there was a fairly long line.  When we got up to the booth one of the things they asked was if we had any fruit.  Oops - the answer was yes, which of course triggered a secondary inspection.  Luckily they didn’t take anything and we were on our way.  All total it took about half an hour to get through the crossing.  As soon as we got into Washington, we started noticing smoke, and before long we were really in thick smoke from all the forest fires.  We stopped at the Grand Coulee Dam but the smoke was so thick you couldn’t see much.  We continued across Washington before stopping for the night at Hood Park in Pasco WA which is a really nice park right on the Columbia River.

We are glad to be in the land of pounds, gallons. and miles.  The gas prices are also kind of nice…won’t be complaining anymore when the price goes up a few pennies, now that we know what our northern neighbors deal with!

Logs waiting to be made into lumber


Some really nice Farmer’s Markets along the way


A few more inches and we will be back in the USA


Lots and lots of smoke


The Grand Coulee Dam is quite a sight


Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 383 miles
Hours on road: 10 hours, 15 minutes
Gas prices: $3.96



Day 38 - Pasco WA to Glenns Ferry ID

In addition to a travel day, today was a day that proved out some new technology….  Several years ago we had a number of tire blow outs on our old trailer. That prompted me to build a tire vibration monitoring system to give early warning to pending problems.  The system uses a number of accelerometers to measure the vibration of the tires.  The theory being that most blowouts are caused by tread separation which usually starts with a bubble forming on the tire making it out of round.  The information is processed by software that displays the vibration level on a display on the truck cab and also sounds an alarm if it detects what could be a problem.  Well today - shortly after leaving this morning - as we were flying down the interstate, the system detected a possible problem with the right rear tire on the trailer.  We quickly pulled over, and sure enough there was a huge bubble about 3” in diameter on the side of the tire.  The bubble would most certainty blown and caused the tread to separate.  Who knows what damage it could have done had we not stopped before it blew.  We quickly changed the tire and were on our way in search of a tire store to buy our second new tire of the trip.  The Alaska Highway sure does takes a toll on the tires.   After getting a new tire, we continued on - finally stopping for the night at Glenns Ferry, ID at the Three Islands Crossing State park which is another really nice park.



Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 371miles
Hours on road: 8 hours
Gas prices: $3.76, $3.86



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Alaska Adventure–Days 35 & 36

Note that there are TWO blogs in this entry, so be sure to scroll all the way down!!

Day 35 – Meziadin Lake BC to Prince George BC

Today we completed our drive on the Cassiar Highway and continued east to Prince George, BC, where we stayed at the Blue Cedar’s RV park.   Most of the drive was clearly in logging country, as there was logging truck after logging truck on the highway.  As we got closer to Prince George, we started seeing huge saw mills.  Each mill had huge piles of raw trees ready for processing, and also huge stacks of cut lumber ready for shipment.




Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 392 miles
Hours on road: 8 hours
Gas prices: $5.09




Day 36 – Prince George BC to Merritt BC

We left Prince George, BC, with a very cloudy sky, but it quickly cleared and ended up being a very nice day.  The further south we got, the higher the temperature climbed until reaching the mid-90’s.  Not sure we are ready for the high temperatures yet.  Shortly after leaving Prince George, we passed through Quesnel, and were immediately greeted with the nasty smell of a pulp mill.  Sure enough, there were several plants located just outside of town - belching smoke.  Not sure how the people in this town stand the smell or smoke.  The smoke continued for 20 to 30 miles south of town and really obscured the views in all directions.  We were really surprised that Canada would allow such industrial pollution.  There is no way the EPA would allow such gross pollution in the states.  When we were driving through the town, it felt like we stepping back in time 40 years to the steel mill towns of the northeast, with big smoke stacks belching smoke.


Toward the end of the day, we were treated with some Big Horn Sheep on the side of the road.  This is the best photo we could get through the windshield…


We ended the day in Merritt, BC at the Claybanks RV park, and we are now about 130 miles from the border.  Tomorrow, we will be back in the USA….

Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 354 miles
Hours on road: 9 hours
Gas prices: $4.55, $4.96



Friday, August 8, 2014

Alaska Adventure–Days 33 & 34

Note that there are TWO blogs in this entry, so be sure to scroll all the way down!!

Day 33 – Teslin YT to Dease Lake BC

We drove in rain most of the morning as we continued retracing our steps along the Alaska Highway.  A few miles west of Watson Lake, YT, we turned south onto the Cassiar Highway.  The Cassiar Highway was a new road for us, as it cuts down south through the central part of British Columbia.  For the first 60 miles it was like driving on a moon scape as all the trees on both sides of the road and as far as the eye could see were burned, and only dead trees remained.  Four years ago they had a huge fire that burned nearly 75,000 acres of forest.  We were a little surprised at the condition of the road for the first 150 or so miles, as it was very narrow and not marked - and very rough.  It seems the standard repair technique for frost heaves in this section is to simply remove the road and back-fill with gravel. 

After several hours of bumping, bouncing, and slowing to a crawl for rough spots we finally made it to Dease Lake and stayed at the Water’s Edge RV Park.  The park is nothing special - with no water or electric.  They did have a very slow internet but that ended at 10PM when the owner shut off the generator!  Looks like there is a nicer park on the other side of town.

Here are some of our last views from the Alaska Highway



After turning onto the Cassiar Highway, this was the view for miles and miles.  It felt kind of spooky - especially because there was almost no traffic and no towns.


Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 311 miles
Hours on road: 7 hours, 5 minutes
Gas prices: $5.65




Day 34 – Dease Lake BC to Meziadin Lake BC with side trip to Hyder AK

After leaving Dease Lake, we were very happy as the road improved significantly.  There were still a few gravel sections but where there was pavement it was fairly smooth.  The farther south we drove, the more dense and prettier the forest became.  The distant mountains were breathtaking with snow-capped peaks and low hanging clouds.  We arrived at the Meziadin Lake Provincial Park, which is at the junction of the road going to Hyder, AK.  After setting up camp, we made the 40 mile trip to Hyder, which is the furthest southern town in Alaska that you can drive to.  The town is located on that long finger of Alaska that stretches south along British Columbia.  The main purpose for going to Hyder was to watch the bears at Fish Creek.  The forest service has build a large viewing platform along the banks of Fish Creek where you can safely watch bears feed on the salmon in the creek.  It was raining when we arrived, but we weren’t disappointed, as there was a large grizzly bear snacking on salmon in the creek right below the viewing platform.

The drive from the Cassier Highway junction to Hyder was one of the most beautiful we have experienced on the whole trip.  Even though it was raining, the views were amazing, as there were at least two glaciers and many multi-stage water falls right along the road.  The whole area had the feel of a rain forest, as everything was green and there was moss growing on all the trees and rocks.  The border crossing back into Canada was the quickest and simplest yet.



Now where did that salmon go…


Yum… that was good….now where is the next one…


Tree roots growing out into the stream of glacier fed water




Moss growing on a dead tree


Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 307 miles
Hours on road: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Gas prices: $5.68, $5.20



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Alaska Adventure–Days 30, 31, & 32

Note that there are THREE blogs in this entry, so be sure to scroll all the way down!!

Day 30 – Homer AK to Chickaloon AK

On Sunday morning we woke to rain in Homer, and with the forecast to be much of the same for the next several days we decided to alter our plans.  The original plan was to spend a few days in Seward, AK which is east of Homer.  The main attraction in Seward was another Glacier cruise, but with the weather looking bad we decided to not do the cruise and started heading back toward Canada.  The cruise would have been very similar to the one we took in Whittier under beautiful skies, so we didn’t feel too bad about skipping one in the rain.  This is one thing we have learned about Alaska is you have to adjust your plans to accommodate the weather.  It’s a lot different than at home where you don’t have to plan around the weather.

Just as we were leaving Homer, we got a special treat of seeing two Bald Eagles on a roof top.  Such pretty birds.


New York may have had Woodstock, but Ninilchik AK has Salmonstock.  Looked like they have a huge crowd given the large number of tents pitched along the side of the road.  Too bad they didn’t have better weather but suspect everyone had fun.


After fueling up in Anchorage, we headed northeast through the Matanuska River Valley toward Tok.  The area was very pretty - even in the rain, so we suspect it is fabulous on a really clear day.  This is the Matanuska River.


We ended the day in a gravel pull off between Chickaloon and Glennallen.  One of the nice things about Alaska is they have no problem at all with an RVer spending the night in a pull off along the road side.

Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 343 miles
Hours on road: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Gas prices: $3.99, $3.95



Day 31 – Chickaloon AK to Koidern YT

We started the day in rain and it continued that way most of the day.  We stopped in Tok for the necessities…laundry, fuel, propane, and water before heading toward the border.  We had planned to stop just short of the border, but as we got close we finally outran the rain, so we decided to continue and get through the 40 miles of construction just east of the border while it was dry.  One nice thing about going through the construction after 5 pm is all the workers were gone and there were no single lanes with pilot cars to contend with.  The road was as rough and slow as it was as we came in weeks ago.  The border crossing was really easy with only a few minutes of delay. 

We stopped for the night at Lake Creek Yukon Government Campground near Koidern, YT.  The Yukon government campgrounds are very similar to our forest service campgrounds, only a little nicer.  They charge $12 a night, but that includes all the wood you want to burn.  They have so many trees here that I’m sure that they have more wood to dispose of than they know what to do with.

We noticed this “food truck” parked near a gas station in Glennallen, AK, which is a really small town in the middle of nowhere.  Earlie,r we noticed a similar truck in Tok.  Not sure how much business a food truck selling Thai food would do in Alaska…


This is a photo of Fireweed which is growing everywhere in Alaska and the Yukon.  It’s an interesting wildflower that grows and blooms all summer and is covering most of the road ditches and hill sides.  According to the locals, the blooms start near the bottom in the spring and as the summer progresses, the higher part of the plant blooms.  A sign of the impending winter is when the upper-most buds are blooming.



Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 366 miles
Hours on road: 10 hours, 5 minutes
Gas prices: $4.21, $4.76



Day 32 – Koidern YT to Teslin YT

Today we had a very nice day as we continued to make our way across the Yukon.  Between Haines Junction, YT and Whitehorse. YT we stopped to see the Canyon Creek Bridge.  This is one of the few original Alaska Highway bridges still standing.  This bridge was build in 1942 using local timbers in 18 days, in what was described as the most ambitious and important bridges built by the Army Corps of Engineers during the highway construction.





The bridge decking is simply small trees placed crossways across the main bridge beams.  Had to believe army trucks and jeeps rumbled across the bridge.  Hats off to the 18th Battalion, whose skills have stood the test of time.


We ended the day at the Teslin Lake Yukon Government Campground, just west of Teslin, YT.  This was another very nice Yukon campground.  Tomorrow we make our way toward Watson Lake, where we turn south onto the Cassiar Highway in British Columbia, which will be some new territory for us.  The last few days, we have been retracing the route we took a few weeks ago, as it’s the only way home.

Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 330 miles
Hours on road: 9 hours, 30 minutes
Gas prices: $4.96



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Alaska Adventure–Days 27, 28, & 29

Portage Lake AK to Homer AK

The drive to Homer from Portage Lake was very picturesque as the road followed the Cook Inlet. In several places we had great views of the Inlet and the mountains on the other side.  Once we got to Homer, we found a campsite on the Homer Spit, which is the thin strip of land that separates Kachemak Bay from the Pacific Ocean.  The campgrounds are nothing special but they are right near the beach.  At this time of the year the big event in Alaska is the salmon run, and we were lucky to see the start of the running of the Silver Salmon (Coho).  Just outside of the campsite is a large tidal pool that is full of salmon looking to lay their eggs.  In many places, the fishermen are almost shoulder to shoulder.  Every few seconds, huge fish jump into the air. 

A view of the Cook Inlet


The fishermen were really bringing in the fish


Close up of a salmon in a creek


Jumping Salmon.  Must be frustrating for the fishermen when a huge fish jumps right in from of them but not on their hook



A guy from Germany caught this salmon in a creek.  The red sack in his left hand is the egg sack.  This poor fish made it all the way from the ocean but didn’t get a chance to lay its eggs.


This sign was along the fishing area in Homer.  Guess they even have scammers here.


We spotted this eagle near the campground. 


Small shop along the Spit


A view from the beach looking toward Kachemak Bay and the mountains beyond



We made a visit to the Homer Farmers Market.  They sure grow some nice things here.


Part of our planning for this trip was to watch several TV shows about Alaska.  Our favorite show is called “Alaska – The Last Frontier” on Discovery channel, which is about the Kilcher Family who homesteaded in the Homer area.  With a little detective work we found that the homestead is only 10 miles east of Homer, so we decided to see what was there.  We found the homestead down a small dirt road, and to our surprise we found this sign.  Calling the number, we got invited to visit the homestead and learn about its history.  We didn’t get to meet any of the people on the show but did get to spend about 2 1/2 hours on the homestead, and got a much better understanding of how the Kilchers came to call Homer their home.  Truly an inspiring story.


Fans of the show may recognize Charlotte and Otto’s house and barn.



Todays Stats:

Miles driven: 189 miles
Hours on road: 4 hours, 14 minutes
Gas prices: $3.99