DENALI

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making friends outside the visitor center

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Looking over the animal displays

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The next morning Fe and I waited at the “Wilderness Center” to board the 9:00 shuttle to Tolkat, 56 miles into the park. 

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A school bus, our driver, Cheryl,  was very personable and had been driving the Denali Road for 13 years. She couldn’t guarantee, but assured us if there was any wildlife near the road she would stop for pictures. Chery seemed to have a “second sight” locating the critters. 

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Sorry for the bad picture, but there’s a moose and calf under the tree. 

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After crossing Savage River this cute young Ranger came aboard to welcome us to the Denali Road. Love her hat!

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The bus stops for all critters!

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Cheryl spies a roadblock ahead.

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a grizz strolls right by the bus.

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And another close on her heels!

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Polychrome Pass area

 

Denali

Up and off by 7:30. After refilling water and dumping tanks (Sourdough Fuel, Airport Way, FREE) we started south on the Parks Highway for Denali, only 147 miles today! I was looking forward to a short driving day. 

The area just south of Fairbanks is unimpressive. Low, rolling with distant mountains. A few hardscrabble houses, cottages and cabins. Some with their junk all on display. (Does every Alaskan own several junk pickup trucks, cars and heavy equipment?) 

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Finally, nearer the Park, we see snow covered peaks.

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Thanks to the “Senior Access Pass” I purchased last year while paddling the Buffalo River in Arkansas we enter the park free and our campsite is half price, $11.00 PER NIGHT. 

One glitch is even though I had reserved 2 nights at Savage River Camp 12 miles up the road into the park the recent snow storm has covered all the sites and we have been relocated to Reily Creek Camp, which is at the entrance. Not quite the “wilderness experience” I was looking forward to.

After paying our campsite and shuttle fees we picked out a site in Reily. Even here, the snow covers almost everything and one loop out of three is still closed while the middle loop is open, but barely passable.  

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Snow covered second loop of campsites.

After hanging our reserved sign I decide to take a drive up to Savage River to see what’s up. This early in the season that is as far as they will allow private vehicles to go. 

We climb the first hill and find snow everywhere. 

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Back at Savage Rive we can see why they were unprepared for campers. Probably will be 2 more weeks before it’s open. 

We decide to spend the rest of the day seeing the Visitors Center and maybe driving into the town, a tourist trap. 

Fairbanks deuce day

Today we started with the University of Alaskas Museum of the North. An amazing structure sitting on a hill overlooking Fairbanks.

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Impressive architecture.

Offered are films on the Alaskan experience, a large gallery containing artifacts, animals and history. Two more galleries are committed to Alaskan art, both contemporary and classic. A third which we regretfully missed, “The Place Where You Go to Listen” links sights and sound to create a unique artistic display.Image

 Goretex be damned, I want a seal gut anorak. 

ImageKayak and Umiak for hunting seal and whales.

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Athabaskan canoe

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Warm clothes, hand hunted and handmade

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The requisite dead critters, RRRRRRROOOOWWWWWW!

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Fe and I spent all morning watching the filma and touring the first gallery. We decided to have lunch in the RV and stay the day at the Museum. There was so much to see. 

to be continued…

 

Fairbanks

 

 

 

 

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I had wanted to stay at state run Chena Wayside Camp in Fairbanks. Not full service, but less expensive that the commercial parks. Be aware, they changed the entry to Geherety St behind the string of retail that runs along Airport Way. The host said they had problems with RV’s turning off of University and since Geherety is almost a frontage road with no traffic it’s better. 

The hang was the Park didn’t have good signs and wasn’t open yet and the “In” gate was closed. After driving around the block a couple times I decided to go in the “out” side of the gate. I located the host. He said the water was frozen, the RV dump inoperative and the electricity spotty, but if I wanted to stay he would open a spot just for us. Looks like we were the first RV customers of the season 2013. (I did see two tents in the walk in sites.)

Another “Spring Adventurer” came in as I was chatting with Dave, the Host. 

A word about Chena Wayside. Though it’;s in the middle of the city you would never know it. The Park has lots of trees and the Chena River runs along one side. we didn’t experience any bugs, being so early in the season. There was still snow in the pullouts!

Dave did get us electricity and water and with the “air” TV channels available we had an enjoyable evening. 

Beaver Creek and back in the USA

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I had wanted to bookdock in a Yukon Govt Caqmp but the only open one was Squanta and it was too far from the border. The next two were still snowed in so we end3ed up at Beaver Creek, the last Canadian town before the border. I had some Canadian money to get rid of anyway. 

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The Westmark RV Park another gravel parking lot. Full service, except the water was frozen. Still full price though…

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Grouping celebrating the pioneers of the area. @ miners and 2 First Nations people…

Another cold night in Canada. Vic, at the visitor Center told us that two days earlier they had been hgit hard with the snow storm. The RV park was full of stranded travelers, A couple trucks slid off the road and one driver had to be airlifted to Anchorage. 

We were lucky to sit out that storm in Whitehorse.

The next morning it’s a short drive to the Border. 

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The US custom agent was easy compared to our welcome into Canada. He asked a few questions, made us sign our passports, (our bad) and confiscated an apple. He asked if we wanted to eat it and give him the core but we passed.

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We ate Bfast at Fast Eddys in Tok, it’s an Alaska Highway tradition. 

Topped off the tank, $4.229 a gallon

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Spied an American moose on the road. 

Except for Tok, the area into Fairbanks isn’t as spectacular as Kulane. Mountains in the distance, with rolling foothills. Could be West Virginia, except all the lakes were frozen. 

We pulled into North Pole Alaska to see what we could see. 

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Fe met the man himself!

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Kluane Lake reprise

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Kluane Lake, 78 miles from end to end, and all frozen.

It’s a big Big, BIG land. To imagine the Native People living here, following the seasons. Fishing, hunting, berrying.

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Sophie Watt, Tschone, in her warm,  gopher skin coat.

Boondocking in Whitehorse

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Boondocking in Whitehorse at the Walmart. We saw many Filipinos working there and found there is an authentic Filipino Restaurant in town!

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Asian Central, Oppan Filipino style!

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Full Pinoy menu. I had my favorite, Kare Kare, De had Sisig.

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Karaoke in the dining room, just like back home!

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Every store must have some groceries, like pancit noodles and bagoong.

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Franciana from WalMart stopped in to make sure we found the place.

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Generous portions, dinner is served.

After dinner with full stomachs we took our doggie bags back to the WalMart for an evening camping in the parking lot.