Monday, September 24, 2012


The first thing we saw when we left Muncho Lake on Saturday morning was this:

The rest of the day looked mostly like this:
and this:
Then we arrived in Dawson Creek, the beginning of the Alaska Highway if you are driving north and west; the end of the highway if you are driving east and south.
Sunday's first photo was also wildlife, but this guy was in a hurry and didn't pose for me!
The day was mostly mountains and trees, just like it's been most days!
Then today my first photo was this!  Yup, three days in a row!
This elk had no problem posing for me.  But unfortunately he is the only one we saw today.  Often there are herds of scores of the around Jasper.
It was a sunny, but hazy day, and the mountains looked blurred and eery.  
We stopped at a few overlooks that were clear and sunny, however.
And this is the famous Lake Louise.  It's pretty, but again, it was hazy and not in top form.
The flower beds were lovely at the Chateau though.
I would have liked to have spent a couple of hours sitting there in the gardens, looking at the flowers and mountains, and sipping an Americano.

We are now in Calgary.  Tomorrow the USA!  It was a good day, after I recovered from yet another bout of seafood poisoning.  We opted to eat breakfast at the little restaurant next to the hotel we stayed in last night in Jasper.  The special was eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes and toast.  Okay, no toast please, eggs over easy.  Pretty simple, uh?  No seafood there.  Wrong!  If the breakfast potatoes aren't pan fried, but are deep fried in the same oil that calamari has been fried in, the potatoes may be contaminated!  I ate a couple of pieces before it dawned on me that they weren't pan fried, and I called the waitress over.  She confirmed that they were fried in oil that shellfish had been fried in.  Well, thanks a lot!  I didn't get as sick as the halibut incident, but I got extremely dizzy, tingly, and itchy throat.  Took about 3 hours to feel normal again.  So I guess the moral of the story is:  Don't eat out!  And if you do, ask, ask, ask about every morsel of food!  In defense of Jasper however, I had an awesome piece of lasagna last night.  It was gluten free noodles, spinach, sweet potatoes, and goat cheese with a tasty red sauce.  Nummy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Without phone or internet connections, I have lost track of where we were and when we were there!  This was our adventure on Thursday, I believe.  And be forewarned.  It's a long one!

This was a most interesting day.  After a lovely breakfast at the B&B in Tok. we set off towards the east.  A couple of hours down the road, I remarked on the bright blue sky and the unusual white fluffy clouds.  We enjoyed the bright sunny day, the new snow on the mountain tops, the golden leaves on the trees, and the bright blue sky and the white clouds.  About the time we stopped for lunch, I noticed the space ships.  Remember we were in a very remote area, and I started envisioning Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind!
 The clouds were in the eastern sky, and came out of the north.
Many, many miles later they were still traveling with us, right ahead of the car.
I have never been so fascinated by clouds in my life!  I took approximately 60 photos, and all are beautiful!  With the bright blue sky and the beautiful clouds, how could I miss?
Just when I thought they might be breaking up, a new batch seemed to arrive.
 We traveled with the clouds for over two hundred miles over four hours.
Shortly before we arrived in Whitehorse, I think this one landed on this mountain! 
And then began the adventure.

We arrived in Whitehorse about suppertime, and began what turned into a 2 hour search for our night's stay, which he thought he had reservations for, but obviously he didn't.  First of all, he didn't know the name of the place.  Second, he couldn't find internet access to look on his laptop or check email for the confirmation he knew he had, which would have included the name and address of the place.  When he finally got online at a Starbucks, there was no confirmation waiting in his email.  He checked his bank account, and there was no charge for a B&B in Whitehorse listed in the transactions.  So that didn't help at all.  He dug through his scraps of paper where he had jotted down numbers and he found a number that I matched up with a number on an advertisement in the Alaska Milepost.  We got an address and drove to the place.  No, she was closed for the season and would not have sent him a confirmation.  (Today when we finally got access, he found an email from her stating that information.  Only 3 days too late!) 

So we started driving around, looking for a hotel/motel/B&B, anything.  All were either full or closed for the season.  Now it was 70 degrees that day, the highway was full of travelers, and they were closed???  Anyway, at the last motel, the kind person at the desk started making phone calls for us because we can't use our phones in Canada without incurring huge charges.  After several calls, she finally located a room for the night.  About 10 miles back down the road the way we had come from, out in the bush.  An "Adventure" B&B.  UH?  Yup, an adventure B&B.  A sled dog dude ranch. 

Well, it was take this or sleep in the same seat that we'd been sitting in for 421.3 miles, so we took it, grabbed a bit of supper that was now over 2 hours late, and turned around and headed back in the direction we had come from, toward the setting sun.
 And we turned off to the right, just as we had been instructed to do, unto a dark, narrow dirt road that led off into the bush.  (I took this picture the next morning because it was too dark the night of the adventure.)
On and on we drove, seeing nothing but little white signs that had sayings like:  Unless you are the lead dog, your view is always the same.  And:  Slow - old dogs may be resting on the road.  And:  Slow - dog sled crossing.  After about 10 minutes on this road that was not much more than a dog sled trail itself, I spied a yard light around the bend.  Around the corner were a couple of small cabins tucked back into the trees, and around the last curve were scores of little wooden houses, each with a name on it, and each with a chain connected to it.  At the end of each chain, and standing by the little house, sleeping inside it, or sitting on the roof, were 127 husky sled dogs, many howling into the night like their wolf ancestors.

The outside of the big cabin wasn't much to look at, nor was the inside.  We were shown our room, and the shared bathroom down the hall, and I read the rules printed on a sheet of paper and posted in the room.

We have no electricity provided for us out here in the bush,
so we run generators to produce our own.
Please use as little light as possible.
And in the bathroom:
Please conserve water.  Do not take daily showers.
Please conserve TP as we have a touchy septic system  Use the 1/2 flush
button when ever possible.

I slept fitfully, and awakened often.  Once I removed my ear plugs (yup, I sleep with ear plugs!) and listened to the mournful howling of the dog pack, and envisioned myself out on a trail with my sled, alone in the wilderness except for my dogs.  And then I looked up at the dark night sky, ablaze with millions of stars.  The magnificence of that Yukon night sky will be forever sketched on my mind and heart!  A lump rose in my throat as I spied the same big dipper that I see in the Minnesota sky, except up here I felt I could almost reach out and touch it!  I stood at the window for quite a long time, drinking in the awesome scene and thanking our God who created it all with a word.

In the morning at breakfast, we spoke with a young man who is working there for 6 months.  He is from Denmark, and he loves the Yukon.  He told us about 5 German men who are coming in October to spend 3 months working on the ranch with the dogs and sleds, and learning about dog sledding.  We spoke with 2 couples about our age or a bit older, who were from California.  One of the gentlemen was a German who was born and raised in Argentina.   Another couple, French accents, told of their adventures in Newfoundland and Europe.  And I remembered that when we had pulled in the night before, a bus/van, loaded with a dozen young folks from Japan, was pulling out, heading for the airport, I imagine.

The dog sled adventure ranch is run by a retired Yukon Quest dog sled racer.  Some say the Quest is tougher than the Iditarod dog sled race.  Such a place would never have been my first, second, or tenth choice of places to stay.  But it was clean, warm, comfortable, and quiet.  And no, it did not smell.  The grounds were very clean.  The staff was pleasant, the fellow travelers were interesting and internationally and culturally diversified.

It was truly an adventure.  One that was unplanned, and one that could never be repeated.  And I am a better educated person for it.

The rest of the day was anticlimactic after that night's stay. 
Oh, we saw a lot of bison.  A LOT of bison.
We saw three grizzly bear right along the edge of the road, and not caring that cars stopped to take their pictures.
 Did I say we saw lots of bison?  Probably a couple hundred all together in maybe three different herds.
This guy held up traffic as he crossed a narrow bridge.  We slowly followed him across, and chuckled at the trucks, wide load trailer hauling trucks, that had to wait on the other side.
We ended our day at a beautiful log lodge (read expensive) in Muncho Lake.  We had a lovely balcony off our room, and if we stood on tiptoe we could just make out the lake beyond the cabins and trees below.  And the motel furnished lovely crystal wine glasses for us!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


My friend Mary mentioned that the students at our church seminary were always threatened with being sent to Tok, Alaska.  We have heard those stories, and every time, 8 times now, whenever we go through Tok,  we talk about Professor Petersen telling the students this.  So I thought I'd show you what your town would look like if you would have been sent to Tok.
First of all, every town needs a general store.
Open and thriving!
You need RV repair places along the Alaska Highway.  These guys once came out 40 miles to fix our broken down RV by the side of the road.  It cost us!
On our first trip in 1992, we ate a fabulous meal of salmon, halibut and moose brats at this place.  Closed.
Closed despite the open sign!
The town has a few churches, motels, restaurants, an Alaska State Troopers office, and of course the Fish and Game department.  Oh, it also has Tyvek.  Lots of Tyvek.  All of Alaska seems to have a lot of Tyvek.


We just talked to a woman at a gift store here in Tok, and she said she has lived here since 1959 and has never seen wind like they had two nights ago.  And, she went on to say, high winds are expected again tonight.  She said she drove to Delta Junction yesterday and there were 2,000 trees down.  The trees were off the highway today, but we sure did see evidence of the wind.
Ernie did stop so I could shoot some of these photos, but obviously the next one was taken through the glare on the windshield.  Sorry.
Beauty and destruction in the same scene.
Some spots were just a tangled mess.
Many folks were out cutting up the trees, getting their winter's supply of firewood.
This woman didn't say if there were any injuries to anyone, but she did say that the native village not far from here was wiped out.  She said there are 72 homes in the village, and every one of them was damaged.  And she said there was not a tree left standing.  Unbelievable wind.  And more expected tonight.

Speaking of storms, I received a text from our son in Seldovia, and he said they were in the midst of a huge storm, they had no power, and the creeks were rising rapidly.  Interesting past week here in Alaska!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


We were in Wasilla last night.  The temps were mild, 45 when we left this morning.  But it was raining, and we figured we'd not see much today.
And here is our view of Denali.  Do you see her?  Isn't she lovely?  What?  You can't see her?  Well, neither did we.  But believe me, she is in the center of the photo on a clear day.
And then we ran into this!  The first snow we've seen this year.  September 18.
But the snow soon stopped, and I spotted the beautiful tundra plants along the road and yelled for Ernie to stop!  Actually, I yelled stop several times today.
I have no idea what these plants are all called, but they were beautiful.
So delicate and tender looking.
Their beauty tugged at my heart.
And I carefully stepped through the ditch, not wanting to crush a single one of them.
They were beyond lovely.
And then came this:
Of course we knew there would be no sight of Denali herself.  And the bus tours into the park have ended for the season, so that was not a possibility for us today.
But we did go into the visitors center and we watched a film on the park and saw the relief map of the mountain.  The glacier on the right of center is the Ruth Glacier.  Son Chris and Amy spent many days camping and skiing there a few years back, so it was fun to see it in relation to the mountain.
Oh, I wish the sun had been out today!  The hillsides would have been blinding. 
All the way to Fairbanks we drove through the yellow forest.  It was beautiful, even in the dreary, cloudy day.
Another place I yelled STOP!
The views were unbelievable.
Did you know there was a city named North Pole?  There is,  Just out of Fairbanks, and right before Eilson AFB, our stop for the evening.

We drove through rain, snow, wind, clouds, and some of the most beautiful scenery I've seen.  Pictures cannot do it justice, you'll just have to believe me.

Tomorrow night is Tok.  We're on the way home.