Monday, August 31, 2009

Final Re-Cap Of Our Wonderful Trip

We've had a lot of our friends tell us they'd like to go to Alaska but they can't afford it, the fuel alone would be too expensive for us. We I have to admit that fuel in Canada and Alaska was not as inexpensive as it is in some of the "lower 48" states but when you convert liters to gallons and change Canadian to U.S. Dollars, it's not quite as bad as we thought.

We first rolled out from Tarpley, Texas in mid February and didn't return to the "lower 48" until mid August, that's about six months on the road in a diesel motor home pulling a Honda CRV. The motor home has a 100 gallon tank and we never let it get much below a half of a tank before we fill up again.

A good bit of our trip in the "lower 48" we drove not over 55 miles per hour because a couple traveling with us had a car that could not be towed over 55. Once we got into Canada we lowered our speed to about 45 miles per hour due to the road condition in spots and also so that if we saw animals on the road we could stop in time and take pictures. It's not a good idea to be driving 50 or 60 and come around a curve and see a herd of Moose, Elk or maybe Bears standing in the road. They don't move too quickly and can be dangerous if they get spooked.

Here is a recap of our fuel expenses on our trip. We drove a total of 11,349 miles and used a total of 1131.25 gallons of diesel fuel. That figures out to be 10.03 miles per gallon, that's what happens when you drive at 45 to 55 miles per hour for the entire trip. The cost of the fuel was $3,411.74 which was better than we figured it would be. As far as we're concerned the trip was worth twice the price. With the cost of food, RV parks, gifts, etc. we figured the total cost of the trip to be a little over $5,000

Now that our "Trip Of A Life Time" is over and we're now back in the "Lower 48", I guess all we can do is look at the Blog and think back about the great time we had on the trip and begin to make plans to return to Canada and Alaska in 2011.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We Crossed The Alcan Highway And Survived

A few months ago we arrived at Dawson Creek, British Columbia with no real idea of what lay ahead of us. We've read some stories about the Alaska Highway and all we really knew was that from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction, Alaska was about 1500 miles of some of the worse highways man can believe.

Construction of the "Alcan" Highway, Alcan was the military acronym for the Alaska-Canada Highway, officially began on March 9, 1942. It ended 8 months and 12 days later on October 25, 1942.

All of the Alaska Highway is paved although highway improvement projects often mean motorist have to drive a few miles of gravel road. That's what they tell you but don't believe it. There are sections where the gravel road covers 30 to 35 miles and the dust from the gravel is unbelievably high. You can only safely drive 10 to 15 miles per hour. If there has been rain then the gravel roads turns soupy and you have to slow down even more.

Some of our friends that have been here before recommended that we carry extra tires, hoses, engine belts and maybe even some extra fuel. They told us that services were few and far between, but that turned out not to be true. We found that about every 50 to 60 miles we could get fuel and even repairs if needed.

We drove the Alaska Highway at about 40 to 45 miles per hour so that if we happened to come upon animals in the road we could safely stop and take pictures. Also because the roads have a lot of "frost heaves" which are like going over Large Speed Bumps and if you're going too fast you can become "airborne" in a hurry. Fortunately they are well marked with red flags before you get to them but you still need to drive over them very slow and carefully.

This may sound like the trip was a "bummer", but not indeed, we had a wonderful time and saw some of the most beautiful wild country you can imagine. We enjoyed the trip so much we're thinking very seriously about make the trip again in a couple of years. We've traveled all over the great State of Alaska and have seen some beautiful country and met some really nice people. It impossible to see all this great State in just a few months, even the people who live here will tell you they haven't seen all the wonderful sites of this State.

We've driven the Alaska Highway from east to west and now we're driving back across from west to east. Since we've been over it once, I'm quite sure we'll have no problems getting back to Dawson Creek. We'll just take our own sweet time since we're in no hurry.

We can't wait to get back up here sometime soon and see what we missed on this trip.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sight Seeing With No Place Special In Mind

Alaska is such a large state that it takes a lot of time to see everything. I wish we had started our venture at an earlier age. We have been camping in places where WiFi has not been heard of yet and the satellite system doesn't work this far up north. We're sorry we haven't been able to keep up with our journals but we'll try to do better.

We'll begin leaving Alaska tomorrow if the weather permits heading to the Canadian border. It is about 600 miles to it and since the roads are not the best in the world it might take a week or so to make it. As before, when we cross the Canadian border, we'll power down the phones. T-Mobile charges 95 cents per minute for calls from Canada to the U.S.

We expect it might take about three weeks or more to drive from the Alaska border to the U.S. border in Montana, again some of the roads are not the best in the world. When we reach the U.S. border in Montana, we'll power up the phones once again, please bear with us.

We have a few pictures which we hope you enjoy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's Time For A Little History Lesson, Page Four

Denali National Park and Preserve was established in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park-- and renamed Denali in 1980.

At approximately 6 million acres, most visitors will see only a fraction of the park from the 92 mile Park Road. The crown jewel of the park is Mount McKinley, North America's highest mountain at 20,320 feet. The Natives still call the Mountain "Denali" and that is what most everyone calls it.
The mountain is only visible about 35 percent of the time and when it is visible they refer to it a "Denali is out ".

Denali is so high that it creates it's own weather and it's always winter at the summit. It would be a crime to visit Alaska and not see Denali. It is unbelievably beautiful and you could spend hours photographing it.

There are many more town and cities I could talk about but some have ask why I am spending so much time telling about the towns and cities. I guess I'll give up on this and if someone wants to know more about some of the historic and interesting town and cities they can contact me via email.

The End

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's Time For A Little History Lesson, Page Three

Alaska is the largest state in the union in area, twice the size of Texas, but ranks 47Th in population. It's so large it has it's own time zone. With that in mind you should know that it's going to take more than one journal to cover all this great state has to offer, so please bear with me, and make sure you have a lot of pop corn.

The population is 670,053 and the Capital is Juneau, the largest city Anchorage with a population of 283,938

Juneau, the Capital of Alaska

In 1880, nearly 20 years before the great gold rushes to the Klondike and Nome, two prospectors named Joe Juneau and Dick Harris found "color" in what is now called Gold Creek, a small clear stream that runs through the center of present-day Juneau. Local history states that it was a Tlingit Chief, Kowee, who showed Joe Juneau where to find gold in Gold Creek. What the prospectors found led to the discovery of one of the largest lodes of gold quartz in the world. Juneau, then called Harrisburg, boomed into a gold rush town as claims and mines sprang up in the area.

Congress first provided civil government for Alaska in 1884. Alaska was governed by a succession of presidential appointments, first as the District of Alaska, then as the Territory of Alaska. Between 1867, when the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, and 1884, the military had jurisdiction over Alaska, except for a three year period , 1877-1879, when Alaska was put under control of the U.S. Treasury Dept. and governed by U.S. Collectors of Customs.

In 1974, Alaskans voted to move the capital from Juneau to a site closer to Anchorage. In 1976, Alaska voters selected a new capital site near Willow, but finding for the new capital move, about 2.8 billion, was defeated in November 1982.

Anchorage the State's largest city is located on the upper shores of Cook Inlet. More than 42 percent of Alaska's population live in Anchorage Within the city limits of Anchorage there are an estimated 1,000 moose, nearly 250 black bears and almost 65 brown bears. Unfortunately we were unable to visit Anchorage but it's high up on our return visit list. There is so much to see in this wonderful, beautiful state that one really needs to be able to spend about two or three months in order to see it all.


Located in the heart of Alaska's Interior, Fairbanks is approximately 1,488 driving miles from Dawson Creek, BC, the start of the Alaska Highway. Fairbanks has a population of 96,888 in what they call "Fairbanks-North Star Borough". Fairbanks is a most unusual city weather wise, it can be 90 degrees in the summer and then 60 degrees BELOW zero in the winter. When visiting Fairbanks in the summer be prepared that "the sun never really sets". You can watch the sun dip a little below the western sky and then turn around and see it pop up in the eastern sky. We had an average of 21.5 hours of sunlight during our stay in Fairbanks.

In 1901, Captain E.T. Barnette set out from St. Michael on the stern-wheeler "Lavelle Young" traveling up the Yukon River with supplies for his trading post which he proposed to set up on the Tanana Crossing, the halfway point on the Valdez-Eagle trail. But the stern-wheeler could not navigate the fast-moving shallow Chena River. The stern-wheeler's captain dropped off Barnette on the Chena River near the present site of First Avenue. A year later, Felix Pedro, an Italian prospector discovered gold about 16 miles north of Barnette's temporary trading post, and alert to possibilities, Barnette abandonded his original plan to continue on to Tanana Crossing. In September 1902, Barnette convinced the 25 or so miners in the area to use the name "Fairbanks" for the town that he expected would grow up around his trading post.

Not far from Fairbanks is the city of North Pole, Alaska. Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus and he lives and works here. We drove there and were met by the jolly ole elf himself. He and his elves were in the process of making toys and goodies for all the good boys and girls. We saw some of his rain deer but some of them were elsewhere being grommed for their winter jobs.

There is a lot to see in and around Fairbanks and one needs to spend several weeks here so as to not miss anything.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's Time For A Little History Lesson, Page Two

Yukon Territory

The population is 31.608. The Yukon Territory covers about 186,272 square miles or about the size of California. The Capital is Whitehorse with a population of 24,041. As you can see there aren't very many people in the other parts of the Territory. You can dive for hours and hours and never see a house, power poles or any sign of civilization. You do of course see quite a few animals.

The Yukon is bordered on the west by Alaska, on the north by the Beaufort Sea/Arctic Ocean, on the south by British Columbia and on the east by the Northwest Territories.

The indigenous peoples of the Yukon are referred to as First Nations. These aboriginal groups are Gwich'in, Han, Northern Tutchone, Southern Tutchone, Kaska, Tagish, Tingit and Upper Tanana. Their habitation is believed to date back about 50,000 years.

The Yukon was made a district of the Northwest Territories is 1895, and became a separate territory in June of 1898.

Some of you may remember years ago a radio program called "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and his wonder dog King". This territory was where it was all about. The North West Mounted Police, now called Royal Canadian Mounted Police are still here and they are the main law enforcement body in the Territory.

Whitehorse is the Capital of the Yukon and is a hub of a network of about 2,664 miles of all-weather roads serving the Yukon Territory. About two-thirds of the population of the Yukon live in Whitehorse. It's the only large or even big city in the entire Territory.

Whitehorse sits on the banks of the Yukon River and is right next to the Whitehorse rapids. The city got it's name from the first miners in the Territory that believed foaming rapids resembled white horses' manes and so named the river rapids.

If you're traveling across Canada into Alaska, then the City of Whitehorse is indeed a stop to be made and not just over night but for several days in order to see all the old famous sites here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's Time For A Little History Lesson

You've been able to see pictures and read a little about some of the places Jerry and I have visited on our trip across Canada into Alaska. I now thought it might be a good time to let you know a little more about the various Providences we've visited.


Population, 3,375,800, the Capital is Edmonton and the largest city is Calgary with a population of 1,197,700. The Providence covers an area of 255,303 square miles.

The Providence of Alberta is bordered to the west by British Columbia, to the south by Montana, to the east by Saskatchewan and to the north by the Northwest Territories. Among the dramatic features of this geographically fascinating area are a stretch of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Ice field along the British Columbia border.

Calgary is the home of the annual Calgary Stampede held on July 3 to 12. It's known as "The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth". The 10 day celebration of Calgary's western heritage includes a parade, daily rodeo, chuck wagon races and an evening grandstand extravaganza.

Edmonton, in addition to being the Capital of the Providence, is home to the West Edmonton Mall. It's the world's largest shopping mall and entertainment center. It covers 38 square blocks and is four stories high. It features 800 stores and 100 restaurants,2 hotels, and 9 theme park attractions. There is an enormous indoor water park, an ice skating rink, 2 18 hole miniature golf courses, the Sea Lion stage and Sea Life Caverns.

There are of course many more cities and towns in Alberta but that would make this journal too long.


Population, 4,113, 487, the Capital is Victoria and the largest city is Vancouver. The size is 364,764 square miles.

Canada's most westerly, and 3rd largest Province, British Columbia stretches 813 miles from its southern border with the United States to the northern border with Yukon Territory. It is bounded on the east by Alberta and on the west by the Pacific Ocean

British Columbia entered the Dominion of Canada on July 20, 1871 as the 6Th Province.

Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway is located in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, not to be confused with Dawson City, Yukon Territory in the north-eastern part of the Province.