Since nothing much of interest is happening around here, (with the exception of the Wind Gods trying to rip everything off our back deck and front porch ), I will take myself down memory lane in this blog. I urge you to enlarge every photo to really see it…These were taken with a regular old 35mm camera and sometimes the big old zoom lens!
Me..and Denali………………………………Den at Long Rifle Lodge, Athabascan Glacier………Stellar seals on our whale watching boat ride in Seward.
In the year 2002, Dennis and I decided to plan a driving trip to Alaska. We had no camper then. We owned a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado, short bed, NO extended cab, pick up truck. I began planning our trip in the Spring of that year. We purchased the recommended book to do a driving trip to Alaska, The 2002 Milepost. That is a great book for anyone traveling in that direction! Being a former travel agent, I got online and made us reservations all the way, leaving Sandwich August 18th and getting back on Sept. 18th. 11,000 miles in one month…and we did it! This still remains our all-time favorite trip we have EVER taken, going all the way to Prudhoe Bay and touring the oil fields by bus. This was the first time since 9/11 that they had opened up tours again, but you had to take a school bus “driving tour”. Here is a thumbnail (albeit a long one) summary of our trip…mostly in photos!
Roadside Salmon lunches…………………………Middle, the “office” at our cabin at Carlo Creek Lodge….and, third….The Great One, Denali…amazing.
Let me just give you a little background on the Alaskan Highway….
“The Alaska Highway (also known as the Alaskan Highway, Alaska-Canadian Highway, or ALCAN Highway) was constructed during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous United States to Alaska through Canada. It begins at the junction with several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon. Completed in 1942 at a length of approximately 2,700 kilometers (1,700 mi), as of 2012 it is 2,232 km (1,387 mi) long. The difference in distance is due to constant reconstruction of the highway, which has rerouted and straightened out numerous sections. The highway was opened to the public in 1948. It is legendary over many decades for being a rough, challenging drive.”
We stayed one night in Coldfoot on the way up, (we were the only small truck there, all semis except us), then one night in Deadhorse , back in Coldfoot one night on the way back, and then in Fairbanks. You’d better make sure you had extra fuel, water, food and a few extra tires for this trip…no bathroom stops. I peed on the tundra once and just a little ways down the road we saw a grizzly…sheesh!
Left, we stopped along the “Haul Road” for a pop from our cooler in the back of the truck. Notice that our silver truck was brown with mud and dust…and if you look waaaay up the road, you can see where we were headed, and the Alaskan pipeline running alongside to the right of the road. We put our luggage in the back of the truck and by the time we got back from the round trip to Deadhorse and back to Fairbanks we had to shake out all our dust covered clothes, get the oil changed and take our Silverado through the Fairbanks carwash!
I wouldn’t trade this trip for anything!! We just followed the pipeline as it stayed right next to us, every so often it dipped and dove under the river to the other side…You could see a truck coming 10 miles away by the dust cloud. We were advised by natives to give the semis a wide berth and pull off to the right shoulder if you could. Many people have come back from this trip with cracked windshields from those big trucks. They don’t call it The Haul Road for nothin’!
I now feel the need for a collage!
After we crossed the Brooks Range and went North, we saw herds of Musk Ox, Caribou, Mountain Goats… The ground foliage was absolutely “on fire”, being it was Sept 3rd, 4th and 5th, it was peak color for Alaska. In fact the place we stayed at in Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay) was closing for the Winter the day after we left.
Left, we are approaching the Brooks Range. I cannot imaging crossing that range in the Winter, but the big truckers do!…A lot of the Haul Road was gravel back then…and oh…the wildlife!
Guy on the left was posing for us….in the middle is the beautiful tundra ablaze with color..and right is one of our “luxury” hotels in the Yukon.
The Alaska pipeline dives under the river…….MacGyver using the last outhouse before we got on the Haul Road…and right is another of our first class accommodations.
We drove for miles with no cars in sight….and the Grizzly Bears were foraging for food, preparing for the looooong Winter ahead..We spotted this one along the Haul Road..He was one big bear!
I could go on and on…OK, I have just a couple more up my sleeve…WAKE UP!!!!
This sign greeted us just North of Fairbanks..but we just kept going…That sign Den is pointing to says “Bears spotted in area recently”…
OK, OK, I’m almost done! I need to tell you that my Uncle Walt was an Air Force Master Sergeant, and was stationed in Alaska during the war. In fact he helped build the Alaska Highway. The United States was fearful that the enemy would try to get to North America and come in somehow via Alaska. While he and Aunt Edy were there in 1948, they had their photo taken along the road….I wanted Den and I to re-create that photo….
…My Aunt Edy and Uncle Walt, Alaskan Hwy, taken 1948……………………….Me and MacGyver, Alaskan Hwy, taken Sept., 2002
I leave you with this quote, which pretty much says it all:
“There is on word of advice and caution to be given those intending to visit Alaska..If you are old, go- by all means, but if you are young, wait. The scenery of Alaska is much grander than anything else of it’s kind in the world, and it is not wise to dull one’s capacity for enjoyment by seeing the finest first.”
~Henry Gannett, Harrison Expedition 1899