I am going to try something different this month, dating each day so our readers are able to follow the date. Also, we want to thank everyone who has been sending us messages regarding our site. We are always happy to hear from you, if we don’t respond right away, please understand, we have some periods when we are not able to get back to you.
June 1 – We got up early and after getting dressed and having breakfast, we packed our bags and headed to Seattle. We drove to Bellingham and boarded a ferry for the 60-minute trip across Puget Sound. It was a pretty day and we enjoyed watching the scenery.
After our arrival in Seattle, we drove to the Pioneer Square area and toured the Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Seattle was point where most of the stampeders boarded ships heading for the gold fields.
We then headed downtown and purchased our tickets for the Space Needle. After a very fast elevator ride, we were on the observation deck of the landmark. It was quite a view! We enjoyed walking around and looking at the various landmarks noted on the information plaques.
After a fast elevator ride down, we drove to our hotel near the airport and checked in. We then went to dinner and came back to our room to go to bed early, getting ourselves rested for the busy couple of days coming up.
June 2- We got up at 4:30 and after dressing, hopped the airport shuttle to catch a 6:30AM flight. We were heading to Dallas to attend Lacey’s graduation. Our flight took us to Houston, where we changed planes for the 45-minute flight to Dallas.
After picking up a rental car, we drove north on I-35. We stopped in Denton at the mall where Millie got her hair cut, then we drove to our hotel and checked in. It was really hot and the A/C in the room did little to cool it off. We drove up to Camping World to make a couple of purchases, and then went to dinner.
After returning to the hotel to shower and change, we drove to the campus of North Texas State University for the graduation. Lacey was graduating from Marcus High School. It was a great family affair; Debbie, Russell, Chad and Rikki were there from Katy, TX. Lacey’s mom, Gina, her grandmother Bea and Amanda were there from Corpus Christi, TX and Lacey’s boyfriend, Chad from Chattanooga, TN. The ceremony was very nice and lasted about 2 hours.
Following the ceremony, we all returned to Robert’s for cake and ice cream and Lacey opened her gifts. Several of her friends from school dropped by and we all visited until about midnight. After lots of hugs and goodbyes, we headed back our hotel.
June 3 – After getting up and packing, we drove to breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. We then headed to the DFW airport and got our rental car checked in. We took our plane to Houston, then onto Seattle, getting back in there about 5:30. We grabbed our bags, picked up our truck and headed for the ferry. As luck would have it, the ferry was ready to leave when we got there and they held it until we paid our fare and boarded. The 60-minute ride to Bellingham was relaxing and we stopped on the way back to the RV park for a quick dinner.
Missy and Ming were really glad to have us back. We were glad to be back and sleep in our own bed that night. It was a hectic three days, but very important to us to attend Lacey’s graduation.
June 4 – Today is the day! We are now heading across the Canadian border and on the first leg of our Alaskan trip. We drove to Port Townsend where we were loaded onto a ferry for the 30-minute ride to Whidbey Island; there we picked up route 20 to I-5 and then north to Sumas, WA where we stopped at the Canadian Border station.
We answered the Canadian officials questions, showed them our passports and the kitties health certificates. We were then directed to park in an area and go inside the offices where we were asked some questions by the immigration officer and another officer searched our rig. After 45 minutes, it was determined that we had not contraband and we were sent on our way.
We got on Canada Highway 1 and headed east to Chilliwack before stopping for the night.
June 5 - After a good nights sleep, we proceeded to the Visitors Center before heading back to the highway. The center was well stocked with literature and pamphlets on Canadian attractions and excellent books on RV parks. Millie loaded up with material (she loves reading this stuff), and then we were again on Highway 1 heading north.
The first part of the drive was through the Fraser River valley. The mountains were on both sides of the highway and many beautiful waterfalls cascading off the sides awed us. Passing through the town of Yale, we entered the Fraser River canyon, where we drove through 7 tunnels. We stopped for lunch in Lytton, known as the hot spot of BC, recording a record high temp of 111. Dick also made a couple of phone calls and then we were on the road again.
After passing through Spences Bridge, we began to see fields covered with black shade cloth. This area is dry and hot in the summer. Being protected by the shade cloth is Ginseng. The world supply of North American ginseng is grown here. The plants take 4 years to mature.
We stopped for the night between Cache Creek and Clinton. It was a small park next to a small very pretty, clear lake. After dinner, while Dick puttered with his computers, Millie took a walk along the lake and visited with some of our fellow travelers. It seemed that we were all heading to Alaska.
After setting up, we drove to the Wal-mart for some shopping and to the Safeway for groceries.
June 7 - Another beautiful day. After breakfast we got in the truck and headed to the gold rush town of Barkerville. This town site, 51 miles east of town on highway 26 is a provincial historical town. No vehicles are allowed in the town, you park in a large lot and then enter through the Reception Center. Barkerville was a gold rush town in 1862. It was basically a ghost town when the government took it over as a park in 1958. It has been restored and costumed interpreters conduct tours. We enjoyed looking inside all the buildings. We had lunch at a restaurant there and some huge ice cream cones at the soda parlor. We particularly enjoyed the demonstration of the giant wheel used to provide water to run the lift which carried buckets underground for placer mining.
On the way back to Quesnel later in the afternoon, we saw our first black bear. He was beside the road, in a ditch, eating some sort of plants. We sat beside him, watching and taking pictures and he never seemed to notice we were there. He was a pretty large bear, larger than most we have seen.
After getting back to town, we gathered up the laundry and went in search of a Laundromat. We got the laundry done and put away, then off to bed. It had been a long day and we were tired.
June 8 – Another beautiful day. It was warm and clear when we left Quesnel, heading for Prince George. There, we turned west onto Canada Highway 16, known as the Yellowhead Highway. This highway follows the valleys of the Nechako, Bulkley and Skeena rivers. Our stop for the night was Smithers, BC. The park we chose was nice, on the banks of the river and even had its own 18-hole golf course. We talked with some of our fellow travelers, including a couple from Dallas and a couple we had met in the park in Quesnel.
June 9 – As usual, a beautiful day and we left the park heading west towards Kitawanga. We stopped in Hazelton to tour the ‘Ksan Historical Village and museum. It is a reconstruction of the traditional Gitskan Village, located at the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers. We paid our entrance fee and walked thru the grounds and toured the museum. The problem was, there were no signs, etc to interpret what you were seeing. If you wanted to know, or wanted to see inside the buildings, which were all locked, you had to pay an additional fee. We left there feeling as though it wasn’t worth the 4.5 mile detour we had made. Shortly we turned onto BC highway 37, known as the Cassiar Highway. Although the Mile Post lists this road as 80% paved, we think it probably is 70% or less. The first section was paved and was as good as the highways we had been traveling on since entering Canada. When we reached Highway 37A, we turned west and made the 40 mile drive to Stewart, BC. It was a beautiful drive with high mountains on both sides and many waterfalls and glaciers to see. It was almost too much to take in.
We got set up in a park in Stewart and experienced our first large mosquito population. We came prepared, so we got out the Deet and sprayed ourselves down. We then drove down the road through Stewart and across the border to Hyder, ALASKA! Hyder is the southernmost point in Alaska that can be accessed by road. As you can see, there is not much there, with a population of 60 or so. We drove to the boat dock on the Portland Canal and then back to our RV for dinner and sleep. (Why did we go there? Because it was there!)
June 10 – We can’t believe the weather! Everyone had warned us about the rainy season being in June and July, but so far we haven’t seen any rain. We said goodbye to Stewart and started back to the Cassiar, enjoying the beautiful scenery again. We stopped at Bear Glacier. The glacier was a beautiful aqua color. It ends at a small lake and calves ice into the lake.
Back on the Cassiar, it wasn’t long until we encountered our first unpaved road. We slowed our speed and watched carefully when trucks came towards us. There was a lot of logging and mining traffic on this section of the road. We crossed several wood decked bridges. We stopped for lunch at Bell II lodge, a beautiful new resort. As we had lunch, we watched the mosquitoes swarm on the window screens.
We were surprised to see how dirty our rig was so far and we still had more gravel road to go. One consolation, everyone else we saw looked the same way! We have been passing many beautiful, clear, blue lakes. We can see why folks head here for fishing.
After most of the day on gravel road, we were happy to arrive in Dease Lake, where we planned on spending the night. The park we stayed in had an RV wash and before going to our site, we pulled over and got to work on our rig. As it was only cold creek water and not even any soap, we weren’t able to do a really great job, but did get most of the dust and calcium chloride off. We went to bed around 11 with the sun still up. It is starting to get daylight very early and stay that way very late.
June 11 – Back out on the Cassiar and before long we were dirty again. Oh well, we are enjoying the scenery and the truck traffic has lessened.
We stopped at Jade City for a tour of the Cassiar Mountain Jade store. They have a large selection of jade items for sell, plus a collection of mining items and raw jade to see. The population of Jade City is 10. The Cassiar Mountain area supplies 75% of the world jade supply and the jade in this area is cut from the Princess Jade Mine, one of the largest jade claims in the world. The stone doesn’t look like much until it is polished and then it comes to life.
We saw two more black bears, but they were not inclined to posing for pictures. We also crossed over the border from BC to the Yukon Territory. In the afternoon we came to the end of the Cassiar where it intersects with the Alaska Highway. We had planned on having lunch at a café there, but found it to be closed, so we grabbed a snack and headed west on the Alaska Highway.
At Teslin, we crossed the longest water span on the Alaska Highway. One of the experiences of the Alaska Highway that we were told not to miss is a stop at Mukluk Annies. This unique establishment offers free RV parking if you have dinner there. They serve Salmon, Ribs, Steaks and Pork Chops cooked over a wood fire right in the dining room. We had dinner, but decided to head on to Whitehorse as we were really tired and didn’t want to bookdock, power was available, but only 110.
We arrived in Whitehorse later than we wished, tired and wanting to hit the bed. Our first stop was Hi Country RV park, where we were told they had no spaces and directed further down the highway to another park. There we were able to obtain a space and after getting set up we were ready for a good nights sleep. One problem, it is still daylight at 11:30 and the sun is up by 3:30 AM. We had purchased a roll of the material that windshield screens are made of to make covers for the bedroom windows and finally decided that this was the time to get it done. It looks tacky from the outside, but it makes the bedroom dark and we can sleep now. (This is another one of the things you see everyone else doing, some using aluminum foil to cover the windows with.)
June 12 – After breakfast, Dick walked down to the pay phone (we have no cell phone service in Canada) and called Phil-Mar RV repair to see about an appointment to get our oven looked at, it still isn’t working. They said they could see us tomorrow at 8:30 AM. He also called and made an appointment at the Ford dealership for an oil change, they couldn’t do that until Saturday. Then we went to the Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. Afterwards, we went to a tire store and replaced the 4 rear wheels on the truck. Dick thought they were looking a little worn and was afraid they would not make it to Fairbanks. We then drove around town and picked up groceries at the only market we could find. It was quite an experience, lots of unfamiliar brands and all labels in English and French.
June 13 – It was up early and off to Phil-Mar RV Service. They got started on us as soon as they opened at 8:30. We went inside to the waiting room and Millie enjoyed a very good cup of coffee. We spent the time visiting with one of the owners, who has lived in the area a long time and had a lot of knowledge of local sights. It was a very enjoyable time and we were repaired and on our way before we knew it.
Dick had called Hi Country on Thursday and was able to obtain a space for us starting today. After leaving the Phil-Mar we stopped at a car and rv wash and worked on our rig. It took us nearly 2 hours, but we got it reasonably clean. It was very cold and we still are amazed that we both didn’t come down with colds. We checked into the park and got set up. We drove into Whitehorse, parked and toured the historic Main Street.
June 14 – Dick got up early and went to the Ford dealer to have the oil in the truck changed. Millie slept in a little, then got up and had a leisurely morning until Dick returned. In the afternoon we drove to the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center and enjoyed seeing the displays and fossils of Wooly Mammoth, giant bears, and other animals from this era. This center is very well done and we highly recommend it. We then crossed the street and toured the Yukon Transportation Museum. It contains exhibits on methods of transportation in the North. They have a large exhibit on the bush pilots of the North that was very interesting and also a large exhibit on the Alaska Highway with many vehicles used to construct the highway. A very interesting film on dog sledding was available and also an exhibit on the Chilkoot Trail. The only problem with this museum is that many of the exhibits are still under construction, but what was finished was well presented.
June 15 – Father’s Day. Millie did Bacon, Eggs and Biscuits for Dick’s breakfast, then put a roast in the crockpot for dinner. Afterwards, we drove to town and toured the stern-wheeler, SS Klondike. It now sits beside the Yukon River where it was the largest vessel to make the trip between Whitehorse and Dawson Creek. It is really an amazing sight to see. This boat could carry over 300 tons of cargo. She plied the river until 1955, when she was retired.
We then drove over the bridge and into a section of town called Riverdale where we went to see the Whitehorse Rapids Fishway. As luck would have it, the center was closed, so we returned home to spend the rest of the day relaxing.
June 16 – Today we decided to go back to the Fishway, as the sign in the window said it was open Monday thru Friday. The Yukon Energy Corp. dammed the Yukon River to produce electrical power for the area and as the streams further upriver are spawning areas for Chinook salmon and other fish, they installed a fish ladder. This ladder is said to be the longest wooden fish ladder in the world. We were early for the run, which occurs mid July to Mid August, so we were unable to see any fish taking the climb, but enjoyed looking at the ladder and seeing the exhibits.
We then drove north of town and turned onto the Klondike highway where we traveled to the Yukon Game Farm Wildlife Preserve near Takhini Hot Springs. We drove through the gate and up to the office. We were told that they were not conducting tours that day, but that we could pay a fee and drive through ourselves. We saw the collection of animals, including bison, musk-ox, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. We enjoyed seeing the animals, especially the moose, as they seem to be eluding us on the trip so far. We see many signs indicating moose areas, but have only seen one and he was in a hurry.
June 17 – We decided that today was the day to take a boat ride up the Yukon River. We drove a short distance from the park to the dock where the MV Schwatka offers daily cruises. Dick purchased our tickets for the trip and as it did not leave until 2:00, we decided to do some grocery shopping in Riverdale, where we had found a market when we went to the fishladder. We came home and put the groceries away, had a late lunch and then went back to the dock at the appointed time. The cruise was enjoyable upstream and we were told about many points of interest along the way. Lake Schwatka is a beautiful green color and very clean and clear. We passed over what had been Whitehorse Rapids before the dam was built. Miles Canyon was a very dangerous area that had to be passed to get into Whitehorse and on to the Klondike Gold Fields by the stampeders who came up the Chilkoot Pass. This area is now part of the lake. An hour into the cruise, the boat turned around and headed back down the lake. Then after a bit, the captain announced that he was experiencing engine problems and would be putting in to shore a short distance down and that a bus would be sent to pick up the passengers and return us to town. After putting in and getting the boat tied up, we waited about 20 minutes or so until the bus came. A van from the cruise company brought a portable gangplank, got it tied on and we were taken off the boat and loaded on the bus, where we were returned to the parking lot at the dock. So much for the boat ride!
June 18 – We woke up to rain and decided it would be a good day to just stay home and be lazy. It rained off and on all day. Not heavy, just steady. This is a semi-arid area and they have had less moisture than normal this year, so we were glad they were getting some much-needed rain. We just hung out at home, Dick puttered on his computer and Millie worked on some cross-stitch and read. We went into town and had pizza for dinner, then back home for the balance of the evening. The sun broke out around 8:00 and when Millie finally went to bed at 1:30 it was still daylight.
June 19 – It was overcast when we got up this morning. After breakfast and things were cleaned up, we decided it would be a good day to spend inside, so we headed to town and the museums.
Our first stop was the Old Log Church Museum. The church was built in 1900 for the Church of England. The museum is devoted to the missions of the North and the history of the mission to the Inuit and First Nation People. We enjoyed seeing the exhibits and artifacts there.
We then went to the MacBride Museum. They have a very large collection of Yukon gold and very good exhibits of the gold rush era. They have a mineral exhibit of minerals found in the area and an exhibit that contains specimens of animals from this area. We also saw an excellent film on the poet Robert Service, who wrote “The Cremation of Sam Magee” and other poetry while living in the Yukon, first in Whitehorse and then in Dawson City. The outside exhibits were closed as they were working in that area, but we didn’t mind, as we came outside it began to rain again.
We have enjoyed our stay in Whitehorse. The town is not large and almost in a time warp. They have a Wal-Mart, KFC, Pizza Hut, A&W, and Tim Horton’s which all seem to be new construction. Whitehorse is the seat of government for the Yukon Territory, replacing Dawson City in 1953. The government headquarters are a very plain modern style building, in contrast to the ornate parliament building we saw in Victoria. The Yukon Territory has a population of about 32,000 and 22,000 or so of that number lives in Whitehorse. We found the people here to be very friendly and helpful. This won’t be our last visit here; we will be coming back through when we leave Skagway and again on our way back south in the fall.
June 20 – It rained overnight, but we were able to get packed up and on our way without getting wet. We headed south on the Klondike Highway towards Skagway. As it was overcast and raining at times, we didn’t do much stopping along the way. We went past the Canadian Customs station, which is 12 miles from the border on the summit at White Pass. As we climbed the highway to the pass, the rain and fog became heavier, until at the top of the pass it was almost impossible to see the roadway. We descended the pass and stopped at the U. S. Customs station, 4 miles from the border. The reason these stations are so far apart is that the weather is so severe at the summit. We made the long grade down and suddenly, there was Skagway.
After getting parked at Garden City RV Park, we drove into downtown. Our first stop was the train depot, where we picked up our tickets for tomorrows train trip. We then wandered up the board sidewalks, looking at the historical buildings and checking out some place to eat. After lunch, we walked back down to the train depot, where the National Historical Park has their headquarters, checked out the schedule for ranger programs and films and toured the museum. We also made our reservations for a trip to Juneau later in the week.
June 21 – One of the things that brought us to Alaska was the opportunity to take a trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad and today we did just that. When we made our reservations, we found that Saturday is the only day the steam locomotive is used and as we are big fans of steam, we chose to take this trip.
We arrived at the station at 7:30 and boarded the train about 7:50. About 8:10 we left the station and headed out of Skagway for White Pass and Lake Bennett. The scenery was incredible and the commentator on the train, a retired teacher, was just fantastic, giving us a lot of history of the railroad and the gold rush. This narrow gauge railroad was completed in record time, less than 2 years, but by the time it reached Lake Bennett, where the stampeders built boats to float down the Yukon, the rush was over.
We reached the ghost town of Bennett and as we pulled into the depot area, a Canadian Park Ranger was standing at the platform. Suddenly we saw him start running to the other end of the depot. Standing in the middle of the tracks, enjoying the dandelions was a very large black bear! (Yes, the bear in the photo is not black, they can range anywhere from black to nearly blonde.) We were allowed off the train to watch him, as the rangers figured he would not charge such a large group of people. He was finally chased off with an air horn.
After we enjoyed our box lunches, those of us who wished were taken on a tour of the area that was once the bustling town of Bennett. The only building left standing is the Presbyterian Church. There are a lot of artifacts still around though, tin cans, glass bottles, pans, stove parts, etc. This town is a Canadian National Park. The Chilkoot trail which ended there is also a combined U. S. and Canadian National Park.
After lunch and the tour, we reboarded the train and made the trip back to Skagway. Several bears were spotted by the engineer, however the noise of the locomotive scared them off and we didn’t see them. The sun did come out for a while and we had some wonderful views from the train.
June 22 – We spent a leisurely morning, the drove to downtown Skagway. We went to the National Park Visitors Center and saw a film on the Chilkoot Trail and the gold rush. We then took a walking tour with one of the members of the park staff. A large part of Skagway is now part of the National Park and a number of the buildings are owned by the park, restored and leased to businesses. The tour was great and we enjoyed seeing the buildings and hearing the stories about them. One of the things we learned was that when the railroad was first built, the tracks ran right up the middle of the main street of town.
After we fixed dinner, we drove to Dyea (Di ee) where we attended a great ranger presentation on the Brown and Grizzly bears of Alaska. (Same bear, different name, depending on which side of the costal mountains they live on.) We caught our first glimpse of a Bald Eagle on the drive out there. Dyea was the site of a town during the rush, and the Chilkoot Trail began there.
June 23 – We were up and dressed early, then headed to the docks for our trip on the Fjord Express to Juneau. We were greeted at the dock by the owner of the boat, Glen and by 8:00 we were off. Almost immediately, Glen began pointing out wildlife to us. We saw several of the magnificent Bald Eagles. These birds are plentiful here and we learned very quickly to spot them. After a stop at Haines to pick up more passengers, we headed down the Lynn Canal. The canal is really the longest fjord in North American, carved by a glacier. In some areas it is nearly 2 miles wide and 2000’ deep. The water is a beautiful green. Glen pulled near the shore at a rookery for Stellar Sea Lions and we all had a wonderful time watching these great animals. They were also very noisy. We also saw our first whales. Glen said they were Humpbacks, judging from the height of the blow. It was exciting to see them dive, with their great tales coming up out of the water.
We arrived at the dock near Juneau shortly before noon and picked up by a tour bus and driven the 15 miles into the city. Juneau is the capital city of Alaska and is accessible only by water or air. The farthest you can drive away from the city is 45 miles. Jenna (our driver) dropped us off in the downtown area and we walked to a nearby restaurant to have lunch. After our lunch, we walked up the hill to take a tour of the Capitol building. Alaska’s capitol building is very plain and has not grounds or dome. The reason being, the building was originally a federal building until Alaska became a state. The trim around the ceiling in the lobby depicts the main industries of the state.
After our capitol tour, we walked back down the hill, stopped for ice cream and then went to the appointed spot to be picked up by our bus. We had cell phone service here, so while waiting, we made a few calls to let family know we were well and enjoying ourselves.
Jenna picked us back up and we drove through the city and out to the Mendenhall Glacier. This great glacier is a National Park and you can walk the trails almost up to the face. It is nearly a mile across at the base. A beautiful waterfall is along the side and a lake is at the base. Due to the time allotted us, we were not able to walk all the way out to the face, but did walk on some of the trails, although by this time rain was falling.
We returned to the bus and Jenna gave us a brief overview of the area as we drove back to the dock where Glen and his wife Allison were waiting to ferry us back to Skagway. As we were leaving the harbor, one of the other boats called Glen on his radio and told him there was a pod of Orcas ahead and Glen steered the boat to the area. Shortly we could see the dorsal fins of these beautiful mammals. Glen pulled us into position among them and idled the engines. We were able to watch about 8-10 of them and you could hear them breathing. There was one very large male, a number of females and some calves. It was worth the whole trip just to get to see them!
We also saw gulls, some birds related to Puffins (can’t remember the name) and Porpoises. It was a long day, we docked at Skagway around 8:30, but we really enjoyed it.
June 24 – Raining today. After breakfast, Millie went down to check out a fabric store in town and Dick went to the office to download email and make a couple of calls. Our TV and Internet Satellite Receivers don’t work here, so we are having to use a modem hook-up to get email. We were pretty sure this would be the case this far north, so we weren’t concerned. It is rather nice not to have these things, we have watched some DVDs listened to CDs and read. Millie has also worked on her cross-stitch.
We went downtown for a while and stopped by the ice cream store.
June 25 – Raining again today. We had breakfast, and then did laundry. After getting the laundry put away, we drove downtown where we saw another film at the National Park Visitors Center and walked around for a while. After dinner, we headed back downtown to see the “Days of ‘98” show at the Eagles Lodge Hall. This funny show has been presented for over 70 seasons. It was a great evening and we enjoyed it.
June 26 – We decided to drive back up the Klondike Highway, going back over White Pass and stopping along the way to enjoy the sights along the way without having to worry about towing the 5th wheel. We started our trip by stopping at the Gold Rush Cemetery at the edge of town. Two of the most famous citizens of Skagway are buried there. Frank Reid and Jefferson “Soapy” Smith. Soapy Smith was a scam artist who came to Skagway to take advantage of the miners. He ruled the town with a gang of thugs. Some of the people finally got tired of this and they held a meeting to talk about what to do. Frank Reid was appointed to guard the door and keep Soapy out. Soapy got wind of the meeting and confronted Reid at the door. A fight ensued and both men shot. Soapy was killed instantly and Reid was shot in the groin and died 12 days later. Reid is buried in the cemetery and has a large marble obelisk marking his grave; Smith was buried outside the cemetery proper with only a wooden headstone. We also hiked to Reid Falls, which is just past the cemetery.
As we were getting back in the truck, we heard sirens and were passed by fire trucks and emergency personnel out on the highway. We were wondering if there had been an accident on the highway, as the fire trucks were slow going up the mountain and they were in our sight all the way. A short distance from the summit, we were stopped and told the road would be closed for about an hour. We pulled over to wait and when we got out, several people around us were looking up on the side of the mountain ahead. There was a small plane upside down near the top of the ridge. While we watched, a helicopter landed on a ledge there and we could see the emergency crew up there. Sadly, the couple in the plane was killed.
When the highway was re-opened, we continued over the pass (no pictures, it was fogged in). After descending out of the clouds, we noticed some vehicles pulled over ahead of us and as we approached, we were treated with the sight of 2 black bears. They were right beside the road and we stopped and watched them feed. One of the bears was brown and had large patches of fur missing. It also seemed to be thinner than the black one.
We drove past the area called “Tormented Valley” which is a glacial alpine area. It is one of the strangest, barren areas we have ever seen, dotted with many small lakes and stunted trees.
We stopped at the little community of Carcross and had lunch there, then drove on to the Carcross Desert. This sandy area is known as the world’s smallest desert. We then passed Emerald Lake and on to the cutoff for Annie Lake. According to our guidebook, Annie Lake is a great place to see Caribou, Dall Sheep, Moose and other wildlife. Well, we drove the 11 miles out to the lake and didn’t see a thing! It was an interesting drive though, 9 miles of gravel road.
We drove back to Skagway and had dinner.
June 27 – As we have been waiting for our mail to catch up with us and it isn’t here yet, we decided to stay until Sunday. Strangely, the post office here is open on Sunday and gets a mail delivery.
Today is a nice day, with the sun shining for a change. A trip to the Visitors Center and we decided to go to Dyea for a guided walk with a ranger later in the day. We asked the ranger at the desk about the bears we had seen the day before, in particular the brown one and she told us they were shedding and that was the reason it looked so bad. This is the first one we have seen in this condition. We did some shopping in town; Millie hit the bookstore, and then home for lunch. We drove over to Dyea at the appointed time and met at the Dyea parking area with Polly who led our group on a walk through the old Dyea town site. There are no buildings left there, most of them were dismantled and moved elsewhere when the rush came to an end. There are artifacts and one false front from a real estate office. The woods are reclaiming the area and it is hard to imagine that just a little over 100 years ago there was a small city flourishing there.
After dinner we walked downtown and back. It was a pleasant evening, however, shortly after midnight it we heard rain on the roof again.
June 28 – Woke up to clouds low on the mountains and rain off and on. Dick did some things on his computer and Millie read. We walked downtown around 11:00 and stopped for lunch. We then strolled down to the Visitor’s Center to see what programs were being presented today. The only one we hadn’t seen was not until 3:00, so we headed to the City Museum, in the old McCabe College building. On the way up the street, Millie stopped at a quilt shop look around and Dick sat outside on a bench and people watched. It was very quiet downtown and most of the shops were closed. Skagway has somewhere between 21-24 cruise ships stop there in a week and Saturday is the day there are no ships in the harbor, so the shops close.
We toured the museum, then back down to the Visitor’s Center for a great program. It was on daily life in Skagway during the rush, presented by a great lady in period dress. We then walked back home and made dinner.
June 29 – We got up early and started packing up. It was beginning to rain. We hitched up and it began raining hard as we left Skagway. We drove over White Pass in heavy rain, but somewhat less fog than we had encountered previously. Arriving in Whitehorse at McKenzie RV Park, we unhitched and set up in the rain. After changing clothes, we drove to town and had a late lunch/early dinner. Then made a trip to Wal-Mart and the grocery store. It quit raining while we were eating, but started again as we came out of the grocery store. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.
As we are unsure of what our Internet access will be once we leave here, we are going to upload this journal tonight. I will include tomorrow in with the July journal. Sorry we didn’t get it up earlier, this is the first time we have been able to us our satellite in a couple of weeks. Be sure to look at the pictures section, there will be more pictures than what is linked to here. See you next month!