Monday, June 30, 2008

Alaska '08 day 19, back to Whitehorse

Mon June 30, 2008

We headed into Skagway to mail a bill and a postcard and buy a coffee. There were 3 cruise ships in town this morning, there were people everywhere, the shops were crowded. When the cruise ships leave all the stores close. We got some pictures of the train cars at the park at the end of town.

We drove back out to Whitehorse. The weather was clear and there was no wind on the lakes today. We got some pictures of the Yukon sign and the Carcross desert. The kids enjoyed running around the desert.

1 more night in Whitehorse, can't make Skagway to Dawson City in one day.

Tomorrow we set out for Dawson City.

- Jon

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alaska '08 day 18, Skagway AK

Sun June 29, 2008

We rode the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad to the summit and back. We had a beautiful clear, warm day. Great views, few clouds. We even saw 2 black bears and some mountain goats way off. 2 cruise ships are in today so they had lots of people riding the train today. It was a 3 hour trip to
the top of White Pass and back. I shot 70 pictures on the trip,

Like it or not the cruise ships saved Skagway and the WP&YR. All the money coming in from the cruise ships has allowed them to restore many buildings along Broadway and allowed the railway to maintain the route and buy more engines and passenger cars. The railway station is like brand new, they must have a dozen diesel engines and 100 passenger cars. It is unfortunate that most of the store are jewelery stores but at least the city buildings are restored. Skagway is nothing like I remember it. There was nothing here in '82, most of the buildings were empty and or falling down.

After the train ride the kids had finished their junior ranger books so we went and got their junior ranger badges. We stopped and got a beer and a t-shirt at the Red Onion. Alaskan IPA Beer is really good! Bought a 6 pack of Alaska IPA at the liquor store across from the WP&YR station.

After dinner we drove out to the goldrush cemetery, along the river behind the railyard. The cemetery is all in the woods on a hillside, I imagine there were no trees there in 1896. Most of the headstones are wooden and the city has no records for 40 or so of the graves. Soapy Smith and Frank Reid's graves are there, Frank Reid's headstone being one of the stone headstones.

- Jon

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Alaska '08 day 17, Skagway AK

Sat June 28, 2008

Today we drove down to Skagway. It is about 100 miles from Whitehorse and the only other way to get there is by boat. We will duck down across the border for a couple days then head back north to the Klondike at Dawson City YT.

The drive is great. After Carcross you climb into the high alpine pass. Its all rocks and stunted pines maybe 12" tall. All the mountain peaks are covered in snow. There was left over snow drifts along the road. The clouds were pushing up the pass from sea level and spilling out like a smoke stack. We got a
picture of the Alaska border sign. The train was running the steam engine through the pass when we came through and you could see it in the distance.

We were in early enough to go downtown (2 minutes from the campground) and see the National Parks Visitors Center and Klondike Museum. The park service has a couple other buildings setup on display also. The main street of Skagway (Broadway) is restored for maybe 8 blocks. They get lots of cruise ships so all the buildings are filled with stores. Lots of jewelry stores.

After dinner we drove over to Dyea. Not much to see there but it is a great drive. The road mostly hugs the cliffs all around. We saw the head of the Chilkoot trail the Klondike stampeders used. Dyea had access to the preferred trail, the Chilkoot but it was a shallow port for offloading ships. Skagway was a deepwater port but its White Pass was harder to climb. Skagway and the White Pass became the preferred routine in 1899 when they opened a railroad to the top . Once the railroad opened, Dyea became a ghost town. The park system has some markers along the Dyea drive. We drove back to the Dyea townsite. There really isn't anything there anymore but some rubble in the woods. Dyea was abandoned when the WP&YR railroad openned. After that they dismantled most of the buildings for the wood.

Tomorrow we ride the train.

- Jon

Friday, June 27, 2008

Alaska '08 day 16, Whitehorse YT

Fri June 27, 2008

Whitehorse has changed since '82. I don't remember there being anything to see in

We did a tour of the S.S. Klondike. They take you all through it and explain how they operated and what they carried. I thought this was one of the best things we have visited yet, really interesting. The paddle wheelers operated from 1860 (Dawson and Fort Selkirk were fur trading areas) to 1955 when the road was put through from the south. The roads made it much cheaper to get supplies here by truck and to take ore out. The S. S. Klondike was built in the late '20s for hauling silver out from Faro/Mayo by way of Stewart Crossing.

After supper we went to the Canada Center public pool. They had a big water slide, kiddie wading area, a swinging rope. The place was pretty full of locals, well worth it. Probably one of the highlights so far for the kids.

- Jon

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Alaska '08 day 15, Whitehorse YT

Thu June 26, 2008

Stopped at Mukluk Annie's Salmonbake on the way to Whitehorse. We all had salmon, pretty good, I think it is red salmon.

Talked to a guy from ND who was travelling alone and drove up to Prudhoe Bay just to see it. He had some interesting stories about the drive and all the wildlife he saw. Talked to another guy from Alberta on a motorcycle. Have met some really interesting people.

We got into Whitehorse about 6PM.

We drove down to Miles Canyon and took some pictures. Miles Canyon used to be a rapids before they built the Whitehorse dam. This was the last obstacle the Klondike stampeders faced after climbing the Chilkoot Pass (100 miles south) and sailing across Bennet Lake before getting into Whitehorse and catching a paddle wheeler for the Klondike.

278 miles today.

3791 miles so far.
- Jon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alaska '08 day 14, Watson Lake YT

Wed June 25, 2008

Two days on the ALCAN. There are no people between the towns other than traffic you pass along the way, towns can be 100 miles or more apart.

We made it to Watson Lake YT today. We found my brother's sign in the Watson Lake Signpost Forest that he hung when he came through about a month ago. We hung ours and tooks some pictures.
When I was here in '82 there was probably a couple thousand sings. Now there are 64,000 signs, it is huge.

3514 miles so far.
- Jon

Monday, June 23, 2008

Alaska '08 day 12, Dawson Creek BC

Mon June 23, 2008

Drove Jasper to Hinton to Grand Prairie to Dawson Creek to get to the start of the Alaska Highway (ALCAN).

2846 miles so far.

- Jon

1500 miles to go until Alaska! This had better be worth it!

- Cheryl

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Alaska '08 day 11, Jasper AB

Sun June 22, 2008

Drove to Jasper Park today. There is a high pass at the end of a narrow valley that has amazing views south. There are great views of mountains all along. Stopped at Crowfoot Glacier. We saw a black bear just down the hill from the lookout. It was really cold at Crowfoot, kids had their winter jackets on here. Rain rolled in and we skipped the lake pullouts. Saw some big horn sheep in the area with the warning for sheep on the road.

We walked up to Athabasca Glacier at Icefields overlook. It was really cold.

Last thing before Jasper we stopped at Athabasca Falls. You can look right into the falls, down through the gorge and walk an abandoned gorge. The kids liked this. Weather here was sunny and hot, over 70 degrees.

- Jon

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Alaska '08 day 10, Banff AB

Sat June 21, 2008

Banff again today; National Parks Museum and lake Minnewanka.
- Jon

Friday, June 20, 2008

Alaska '08 day 9, Banff AB

Fri June 20, 2008

We headed into Banff this morning to see the hotel, town and waterfall.

Lots of animals, we saw black bears, big horns, elk and coyote.

We aren't going to be any place special on Cheryl's birthday so we decided to do tea at the Chateau for her birthday. We got to Chateau Lake Louise by 4 PM in time for tea in the Lake View Room, really big windows on the second floor that look out over the lake. We all had high tea with scones, finger sandwiches and desserts. We got some good pictures around the lake.

- Jon

We saw 2 black bears, Dad say mom and 1 yr old cub.

- Anna

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Alaska '08 day 8, Glacier to Banff

Thu June 19, 2008

We crossed the border into Canada and entered Kootenay National Park on the way to Banff and Jasper.

- Jon

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alaska '08 day 6, ND to MT

Tue June 17, 2008

Left ND 6/16 and drove all day across Montana 2 to get to Shelby last night. Two lanes of flat straight road. This morning we finally saw the mountains!

A ranger in ND told us that Glacier's Logan Pass was closed/snowed in. There is more to see on the west side of the park and if we can't drive the Going to the Sun road to the west side I guess we'll stay on the west side (West Glacier) rather than the east side (St Marys or East Glacier).

We did some hiking and walked through Lake McDonald Lodge. Someone here said Logan Pass has a drift 80 feet deep and it won't be open by July 4.

- Jon

We went to Glacier NP. We couldn't see all of it because there was 80 feet of snow (at Logan Pass). We went to a goat lick and saw goats really really close!

- Anna

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Alaska '08 day 3, Teddy Roosevelt National Park ND

Sat June 14, 2008

Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. Great park, not many visitors.

1370 miles so far.

- Jon

I got a junior ranger at TR. I was the best j.r. that day! We saw lots of bison and wild horses! We saw a snake by the trail and a bun bun (rabbit) too. It was windy. We went out to dinner, they cooked steaks on pitch forks!

We went to north unit of TR NP. We saw sand stone that looked like tree roots. We saw mule deer. You can tell mule deer because they bounce.

- Anna

Friday, June 13, 2008

Alaska '08 day 2, Chicago to ND

Fri June 13, 2008

4 hour detour on Wisconsin I-90 to go 40 miles! Gotta roll with it.

- Jon

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alaska '08 day 1, Chicago

Thurs June 12, 2008

Stopped in Chicago to visit Bill & Mary Beth and Mark and Reed. Got there in time for movie night...

- Jon

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alaska '08 Let's Go!

Wed June 11, 2008

We headed out of town around 9:00 PM for Chicago, too many things left to do to get out earlier.

- Jon

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Alaska '08

Emmy, Anna, Cheryl and Jon are headed to Alaska for the summer of 2008.

As of today everything is about ready, we are in the midst of packing and waiting for Anna to finish off school (last day is Tues 6/10).

We will meet up with my brother Mike and his wife Jen once we cross into Alaska. Mike has a head start and is in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory as of today.

Below is a map of our route (click to enlarge). Briefly, we will head west to Montana then cross north into Canada to pick up the ALCAN Highway at Dawson Creek, British Columbia. We will travel to Whitehorse, side trip to Dawson City, then west to Alaska. Once in Alaska we will go to Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, The Kenai, Valdez. Then to Haines to catch a ferry down the inside passage to Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and finally Prince Rupert BC. We are planning to come out south via Seattle then east back home.

more to come as we get closer to departure...

- Jon