Takin’ care of business

We’re getting settled here at Camp Li-Wa. It was our first full day and we spent part of it getting the lay of the land around Fairbanks. After weeks on the road where the average town had a gas station and a campground, it seems crazy to be able to shop at Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart, Fred Meyers ,and Safeway almost from the same parking lot! We checked out the local farmer’s market – lots of beautiful Alaskan crafts, home grown goodies, and wonderful baked goods.
Alaskan Adventure - Day 20
Before
Alaskan Adventure - Day 20-1
After (We went for the cranberry-orange one! Yummmmmmm…..)
While the guys were checking out the Home Depot, we ladies located a couple quilt shops in the area –
Alaskan Adventure - Day 20-2
And then we returned home to get laundry done, wash the road dirt off of the trucks and RV’s and get some group haircuts!
Alaskan Adventure - Day 20-3
Alaskan Adventure - Day 20-4

No pictures of ribbons of roads and spectacular snow capped mountains today – we are happy to be catching up with chores and exploring this area.

It is good to be still.

Trying to keep on track

(Actual date – 5/28 – and we’re just 14 miles from our destination. We’re at North Pole, Alaska – where Christmas is always in the air! Here are the posts I’ve been writing, but have been unable to actually upload. Pour yourself another cup of coffee – this could take awhile!)
5/24/09
I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to post anything, so I’ll just keep writing, and hopefully it won’t be too confusing when it comes time to post.

More about Saturday May 23 – Day 13
Let’s be honest. For a girl who doesn’t like to spend more than $10.00 on a museum ticket, taking a day long cruise from Skagway to Juneau was a little outside of my thrifty comfort zone. But everyone that we spoke to highly recommended the cruise and after all, it included not only a comfortable 2 1/2 hour cruise (filled with promised wildlife) to Juneau, our only chance to actually see Juneau, a trip to a famous glacier PLUS a blueberry muffin and apple on the way down and smoked salmon chowder and a roll on the way back (another lengthy boat ride, but a little more direct since we wouldn’t be stopping to view known seal rookeries). My more traveled companions assured me that it was really a good value, so I agreed, figuring it really was a once in a lifetime excursion. And truly it was! I know I gave you a quick rundown of the day in an earlier post – but just to rehash (and with a couple more pictures…..)
The drive down to Skagway was breathtaking. It was especially so as we neared the Alaskan border, but even as we set out (like at 6AM), the nearby lake was beautiful in the morning light.
Alaskan drive - day 13-8
And as the drive continued south
Alaskan drive - day 13-12
and we began the climb into the mountains
Alaskan drive - day 13-15
It was like we were in a winter wonderland
Alaskan Drive - Day 13

We made it across the border (it’s so much simpler when you are in a car instead of a motor home!)
Alaskan drive - day 13-18
And started down a loooonnnnnnggggg 11% grade hill (another thing so much simpler in a car than a motor home)
Alaskan Drive - Day 13-43
Until we reached Skagway – (population 834- except when there is a cruise ship in port!)
Alaskan drive - day 13-21
(it’s pretty quiet there at 7AM on a Saturday!)

Our boat departed at 8AM – and right away we had a taste of how beautiful the day would be.
Alaskan drive - day 13-22
We saw probably a dozen eagles, sea lions and harbor seals – too many to count, had dolphins swimming along side our boat as she clipped along at 30 knots, spotted at least 4 whales and enjoyed scenery that was breathtaking.
Alaskan drive - day 13-26
Alaskan drive - day 13-35
Alaskan drive - day 13-40
Alaskan drive - day 13-39

Juneau was “touristy”, though we did get to see the capital building and the governor’s home (Hi, Sarah!) during our bus tour. I didn’t know what to expect at the glacier (not having one in the neighborhood and all), but it was very interesting. I don’t know if you can see how blue the ice is, but it was quite beautiful.
Alaskan drive - day 13-36
The cruise back to Skagway as just as beautiful, though a little shorter. We had no planned wildlife stops (like the rookeries), but when anyone spotted a whale or a dolphin, we did a thorough investigation. Here we are departing from our dock outside of Juneau –
Alaskan drive - day 13-37

We didn’t arrive back home in Carcross until almost 11PM. It was a very long day and we were all tired puppies. But it is a day that we certainly won’t forget anytime soon!
More Day 13 Photos (yes, there are more!)
Sunday, May 24, 2009 – Day 14
We left our campground in time for us to get to church in Whitehorse. We had scoped out a church that had adequate parking (or parking nearby) for our three big houses, and were blessed to worship with folks at the Whitehorse Baptist Church. I think they were pretty used to having travelers visit, but I also think we were the first of the season. We soon were on our way, hoping to get as far as Kluane Lake north of Haines Junction.
The drive, as always, was beautiful (though there were some patches of road that weren’t so “beautiful”.)
Alaskan Drive - Day 14-6
We were driving along the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountain ranges, home to Mt. Logan the tallest peak in Canada. We never saw Mt. Logan, but the mountains all around us were (I’m sorry to keep using this word) spectacular.
Alaskan Drive - Day 14-10
Alaskan Drive - Day 14-11
We were all feeling quite weary after our long day on Saturday and in all honesty, I think the guys were all getting a little tired of driving, driving, driving. While we didn’t have a particular camping spot in mind, Gary was hoping to find a pull-off with a view of Lake Kluane (and that didn’t have a “no overnight parking” sign).
Here is where we ended up –
Alaskan Drive - Day 14-13
Isn’t our God good to us????
The view out our front window around 10:45
Lake Kluane camping
And then around 1:45-
Alaskan Drive - Day 15
It almost made that middle of the night trip to the john worth it!
More Day 14 Pictures
Memorial Day – Monday, 5/25 – Day 15
It was a beautiful day – starting with prayer along the shore of the beautiful Lake Kluane.
Alaskan Drive - Day 15-1
(Pardon yesterday’s bugs on the windshield.)
Alaskan Drive - Day 15-2
From there on it was pretty much push on to Tok. We made it through customs with no problem – and arrived in Tok around 2PM Alaskan time. It was a long day, with lots of bumpy road, so we’re all BEAT! But still the beauty continues!
Alaskan Drive - Day 15-3
Alaskan Drive - Day 15-4
Alaskan Drive - Day 15-9
Alaskan Drive - Day 15-13
Alaskan Drive - Day 15-12
(eewww – gravel!)
Alaskan Drive - Day 15-15

We were all pretty glad to settle into a campground and call it a day. It wasn’t our farthest day of travel (about 250 miles), but it was over 8 hours behind the wheel. This last stretch of road was particularly full of frost heaves, and boy when ol’ Lizzie hits one of those heaves – all kinds of things heave in here! I finally tied my little dashboard plant to one of the stationary fans on the dash just to keep it from continually tipping over! We were glad to arrive in Tok in one piece (more or less) and just in need of a nap!

Off to bed – sweet dreams!
Steph
More Day 15 Pictures….

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 Day 16
Today was a good day because
1. We were able to hook up with some Sower friends, Pete and Ellen, who were also traveling in Alaska. Turns out we were all in Tok at the same time, just in different campgrounds! They have joined our little caravan for a couple of days – what fun!
2. We came to the end of the Alaska Highway. All 1422 miles of it. No band was there to congratulate us on the accomplishment, but we did get (for the bargain price of $1.00) a certificate recognizing our accomplishment. Now we’ve driven 2175 miles all together (and still have about 100 to go), but somehow driving the whole length of the Alaska Highway (especially without any broken windshields or flat tires) seemed like a reason to celebrate. Fortunately the local IGA (and the closest thing we’ve seen to a real supermarket in the last 500 miles or so) had a nice ice cream stand so we were able to celebrate properly. And, it was a sunny 75 degrees. Here we are with our expanded group –
Alaskan Drive - Day 16-7
3. We found a great place to park – Rika’s Roadhouse State Historical Site. They offer dry camping for $5.00/night which was music to our ears. We settled in, had a great dinner of burgers on the grill and then sat around a campfire with folks from the other two RV’s parked there. It’s been fun to meet folks along the way, and we had seen one of the RV’s all along the way in our travels. (It’s not as if there are lots of places to turn off!) It was good to finally meet them and hear their story.
4. I knew we weren’t going anywhere on Wednesday. We were all ready for a no-driving day!

So here are just a couple of shots from our short (110) mile day.
Alaskan Drive - Day 16
Lots of long straight road –
Alaskan Drive - Day 16-2
Without too much break in the scenery.
And even though it was quite warm , there was still plenty of ice on the rivers –
Alaskan Drive - Day 16-1

No exciting wildlife sightings along the way. The only interesting thing we saw was a HUGE rabbit at the campground in the morning.
Alaskan Drive - Day 16-9
Trust me, this baby was BIG!

And of course we couldn’t resist a stop for some Yak Sausage (among other delights) at the Delta Meat and Sausage Company.
Alaskan Drive - Day 16-5
(We do kinda take up the parking lot, don’t we?)

Finally, a lovely Alaskan wildflower we spotted at the campground. I thinks it’s a Pasque Flower.
Alaskan Drive - Day 16
(It’s true, I’m still working on my macro technique!)

A good day in sooo many ways!
More Day 17 Pictures

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 Day 17

Today was a lovely quiet day. We all walked over to checkout Rika’s Roadhouse – an historic compound where travelers could stop and rest along their journey up and down the Tanana River.
Alaskan Drive - day 17
It also gave us our first view of the Alaskan Pipeline as it crosses the Tanana River.
Alaskan Drive - Day 17-1

We did a little driving around and spotted a moose. But as is often the case, this is what I managed to get a picture of –
Alaskan Drive - Day 17-2
Trust me, there’s a big il’ mama moose in there! No, look – she’s even looking at the camera!

The day started with sunshine, turned cold and windy and kicked up a huge dust storm, and then started to rain. We must be in Alaska!

And that brings us up to Today (well, yesterday by the time I got this all put together!) – Thursday, May 28 – Day 18. For the first time since we left Washington we were not the lead RV! Pete and Ellen had a campground all scoped out for our last night on the road, so we let them lead the way and we pulled up the rear.
Alaskan Drive - Day 18-1
Hello, John!!!
It was a short drive to North Pole, AK. The Visitor Center was very cute –
Alaskan Drive - Day 18-2
and very informative.
Alaskan Drive - Day 18-3


Tomorrow we head into our June project, Camp Li-Wa , just 15 miles up the road. As amazing as this trip has been (with more delights in store for us as the summer progresses), it will be very nice to settle in and get to work next week. All this playing is exhausting. 🙂

Closing in on the prize….

We’ve made it to Tok, Alaska, and are just a little over 200 miles from our final destination (Fairbanks). We’re at a campground tonight that does have internet, but they don’t allow uploading of pictures, so I’m really just letting you know that we are safe and sound back in the good ol’ US of A (and on Memorial day, no less!). I’ll be organizing pictures and writing up journal entries of all of our adventures so that as soon as I am able I’ll be ready to share the last several days of travel. Thanks for coming along so far, and don’t give up on me. I’ll have an official update soon!
Sunny and bright here – and should remain so until 11PM or so!

Spectacular!

The Fjord Express to Juneau – Day 13 – May 23, 2009
From the drive to Skagway through White Pass (where many of the Gold Rush miners crossed into Canada)
Alaskan Drive - Day 13
to the wildlife we saw
Alaskan Drive - Day 13-1
on the beautiful cruise we had down the Lynn Canal
Alaskan Drive - Day 13-3
to walking around Juneau, the capital of Alaska (did you know you can’t get to Juneau by road? How crazy is that!)
Alaskan Drive - Day 13-4
to visiting the “Magnificent Mendenhall Glacier”
Alaskan Drive - Day 13-5
to the cruise back up Lynn Canal
Alaskan Drive - Day 13-7
to the drive back up to Carcross, with the setting sun reflecting off the mountains (picture taken at 10:15)
Alaskan Drive - Day 13-6
it was an OUTSTANDING day! Thank you Fjord Express for orchestrating such a good day. Thank you God for providing such a magnificent place!

O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are!
beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
You commandeered winds as messengers,
appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
You set earth on a firm foundation
so that nothing can shake it, ever.
You blanketed earth with ocean,
covered the mountains with deep waters;
Then you roared and the water ran away—
your thunder crash put it to flight.
Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
in the places you assigned them.
You set boundaries between earth and sea;
never again will earth be flooded.
You started the springs and rivers,
sent them flowing among the hills.
All the wild animals now drink their fill,
wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
ravens make their voices heard.
You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
earth is supplied with plenty of water.
Psalm 104:1-13

PS – I’ll have LOTS more pictures and details of this beautiful day next time I post. But right now we’re hooking up and heading North. And it looks like we’re saying good-bye to internet for the next couple of days. Have a blessed Lord’s day!

Whitehorse – the capital of Yukon Territory

Today we learned a little bit more about the Yukon Territory. The difference between a Province (like British Columbia) and a Territory (like Yukon) is that since there aren’t very many people who live in a Territory the government subsides their services. So The Yukon covers over 186,000 square miles (Pennslyvania is 46,000 square miles)and is home to just over 33,000 people. Of those 33, 000 people, 24,000 of them live in Whitehorse. Of the 33,000 folks, 431 of them live in Carcross, the town where we are camping. 🙂 Needless to say, our trip to Whitehorse today was a huge change from the last 10 days of our travels. But it was fun to be in the “bustle of the big city”.

The drive to the Whitehorse took us by some interesting areas. First there was the Carcross Desert – right here in the middle the mountains is the “world’s smallest desert”.
Alaskan Drive - Day 12
Pine trees in a desert – go figure!

And not too far past the desert was Emerald Lake (once part of Spirit Lake until the highway came through.) The The colors were stunning!
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-1
Alaskan Drive - Day Twelve

Soon we were pulling into Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory.
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-3
It was an interesting mix of old and new, and since we didn’t really have an agenda, we just wandered around the town taking in the city.
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-4
This is Rosie walking through an outdoor café. We were all dressed in several layers – I guess the locals have a whole different idea of what a warm day is!
We caught the tail end of a little culture in the park –
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-6
Admired the statue dedicated to those who follow their dream
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-7
And enjoyed the many murals in the town.
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-9
(All those “old” buildings to the left of the modern building on the corner are painted on the different store fronts.)
Oh, and there’s Rosie again, catching up on some phone calls!

Here we are enjoying lunch at the Klondike Rib and Salmon, located in the oldest operating building in Whitehorse.
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-10

After we scoped out where the cheapest diesel could be found (for when we come through again on Sunday), we returned to Carcross where we walked along their “beach”
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-12
and checked out some of the other local sights (and their ice cream!).
Alaskan Drive - Day 12-11
Alaskan Drive - Day twelve-2

It was a good day. I think the guys were happy to not be driving the big rigs, we saw some more examples of God’s handiwork, and we had a taste of a “big city” Yukon Style!

And since I’m sure you’re missing an official windshield picture, here you go – taken from the backseat of the car!
Alaskan Drive - Day Twelve-1
These mountains are amazing!

Tomorrow we’re taking a day cruise from Skagway to Juneau, with a side trip to Mendenhall Glacier. I have our passports out, an extra set of batteries in my pack, and an empty 2gig memory card for my camera. Can’t wait!