Thursday, May 13, 2010

Whitehorse to Tok to Fairbanks

Hallelujah!!! Back in the United States of America!!!! I have never been so glad to see the stars and strips than I was yesterday afternoon!!!! We arrived in Tok around 7:30 our time (we are 4 hours behind you guys on the east coast). Dan and I were beat - don't let anyone tell you they have driven the Alaskan Highway unless they have done the stretch of the road from
Whitehorse Yukon Territory to Tok. The road up to Haines Junction was a good road - two lane, but no problems. Then we get to Haines Junction and turn up to go into Tok. The road was not good, but it wasn't that bad. Then we get to Destruction Bay, Yukon Territory. The Milepost says the community was named for a storm that came through when they were constructing the highway and it destroyed materials and buildings. Well, don't let them fool you - I think it was named that for the destruction it does to your unit when you are pulling up to Alaska. The road went to H **** in a hurry. HUGE holes in the road and places where it just seemed like the whole road just disappeared - Frost Heaves! If someone tells you to slow down when you see frost heaves - listen to them!!!! They will tear your unit to pieces. We made a stop to fix lunch and when I opened the door and looked toward the back of the unit I couldn't believe what I saw - the recliners were practically on their sides - the end table was upside down - all the stuff in the overhead cabinets in the back was on the floor - the desk chair was turned over. It was a MESS! I had to crawl over the kitchen cabinets to get to the back and try and straightened some stuff out. I was able to get the chairs back upright and the end table upright. I left my desk chair on it's side and I got all the books and stuff from the overhead cabinets picked up and stacked on the floor.
At this point Dan talked about turning around and going back to Haines Juction and then just going on down to Haines and forget about the interior. He even turned around and started back. We got about 6 miles down the road and he said "I can't do it - I have to go on to Tok". So, we found a place to turn around and on to Tok we came.
By the time we got in - as I said earlier- we were both bushed (I think from nerves!) - but Dan wanted to wash the unit and the truck. All the dirt had been driving him crazy!!! So, for $20.00 he was able to use a pressure washer (sorta) and wash the top layer of dirt off - the truck and unit are still dirty, but at least now you can tell what color they are suppose to be.
We get into the campground and get set up - I walk in and try to set things to rights inside when I see glass everywhere. I finally trace it down to the cabinet where I have my candles (Yankee Candles at that) and three of the glass jars are shattered! We have to find the little shop vac and clean up all the glass before I can let the pups in the unit. Then I get the chairs out where they are suppose to be and then we see the drawer on the sofa is broken. Well, by the time we get all this stuff fixed it is almost 9 and we still haven't eaten - so we drive down to a restaurant right down the street and have dinner (actually, it was good food and really nice decor). We get back to the unit about 10 our time and I try to sign on to blog (suppose to have WiFi). Well, I can't get on and I'm too tired to worry about it so I go to bed.
This morning we got up and went into Tok to see if we could find the girl that had hired us to do the campground outside Tok - the one that was 60 miles outside of town and no hook-ups much less telephone or Internet. Well, she wasn't in the office so we came back to the unit and got hooked up and started out for Fairbanks.
Right outside of town this is what we saw -------------------------------

Yep, another bear - I don't know if you can tell from this picture but he just crossed the road right in front of us. Dan actually stopped the truck this time and honked the horn and whistled trying to get the bears attention so it would look at me while I was taking the pictures. The dogs started barking at it when I rolled the window down - but this bear didn't even pay the any attention to any of this. He was just intent on grazing on the side of the road. So I took a few pictures and then we were off down the road again.
Now, we also saw about a half dozen moose today - but they were all off in the woods or in an area where I couldn't get any pictures. Plus, the closer we got to Fairbanks the more traffic we ran into. Fairbanks is a pretty big town (for Alaska). It has an Army base and an Air Force base - so you know there are things around. (Dan was upset - there is no Outback) However, while there might be all kinds of things around guess what - campgrounds are NOT opened here yet - we went to one that Dan wanted to go to and it was closed. I called a couple of others and finally found one that was open - just NO water or sewer (the ground isn't thawed out enough yet)! Anyway, we are the only people here, but we do have electricity (only 15 amps though) so we are having to run the propane heat instead of electric and not much else. So, we get set up (and by the way, we have telephone service again!) and I come in to turn on the computer and I keep getting this error message on my computer where the air card would not connect. So, I call customer support for Verizon where a really nice sweet girl (who was in Atlanta!) helped me and got the air card up and running again! Now, I don't have all the pictures I wanted to post on here tonight (like ones of the Alaskan Pipeline, or the 4 foot thick ice on the rivers, or the picture of the Denny's that is the furthest north - which is where we ate dinner tonight). It took about an hour just to down load the few pictures I have on here tonight - Hopefully, when we get set up in Juneau we will have better service/reception.

I did want to post this picture of another group of caribou we saw yesterday --------
thought you might enjoy seeing it.

This is a picture of the turnoff to the campground where we were originally suppose to go - don't tell Dan, but I am SOOOOOOO glad that we didn't stay with this job. I mean, not only was it 60 miles into Tok (which isn't a big town to begin with) there was absolutely NOTHING around this campground. I mean, I think Dan and I would have been the only people there all summer and it was 1.2 miles off the highway down a little dirt road. I was really surprised that we could even get the camper back to the campground. Of course, Dan thought he would have loved it if we had done it BUT I am certainly glad that we didn't! To be very honest, I would have been miserable!!!!!!!!
Anyway, I think it is much better that we are going to be in Juneau. Dan and I have to decide what we are going to do now, since nothing is opened up this far north - we don't know if Denali is opened or not, or if we will be able to find any other campgrounds opened. I guess I'll make a few phone calls tomorrow and see what we can find. If we go to Denali I don't think I will have Internet so if you don't hear from me tomorrow you'll know why.
In the meantime, I hope you are having a good week - all you working people, tomorrow is your last day this week! Dana, I hope things are going okay - please keep us updated on what the doctors tell you. Melissa, we will be back in touch - Dan and I have to do some talking! Crystal, thanks for calling your sister and letting her know that we were okay. Cara, glad to see that things are going well, will have your Dad call soon. Everyone else, it was so good to see the comments on the last blog. Glad to know that you are still there and reading - I'm so excited about the amount of wildlife we are seeing - it's wonderful!!!!
I'm going to sign off for tonight - it's 10 o'clock and the sun isn't anywhere close to setting! Something to get used to!!!
Take care and I'll talk to you tomorrow (I hope!)


  1. We've heard before about the frost heaves and the havoc they cause. Just keep reminding yourself this is an adventure! We're all counting on you.

  2. During the summer traffic is slowed by the road construction because that's the only time of year they can do it. Enjoyed your recap of your trip up. Hope you stay out of trouble. LOL

  3. Sounds like a LOT of work. . . Be careful around the bears . . especially the big brown bears as you get nearer the coast. This time of year they have been out of hibernation only a few weeks, but they haven't been able to get any protein yet -- their forage is just plants and roots and stuff -- even bushes -- they eat a lot of skunk cabbage (skunk cabbage gets four foot high in the SE Alaska rain forests) and heather..

    They badly want protein to start to fatten up for the next year and in the meantime they can get REAL GROUCHY. Once the salmon runs start and the berries ripen they'll mellow out a bit.

    . . . and remember that more people are hurt by MOOSE than by bears.

    You guys are absolutely fearless and must have anti-freeze for blood -- just checked the weather almanac for Denali:

    Normal (PATW) 46 °F 33 °F
    Record (PATW) 64 °F (1999) 20 °F (1984)

    Are you gonna take a ferry back to Seattle?

    good luck and stay warm. . . .

  4. We have enjoyed visualizing your experiences. Brings back memories - most of them were good. We have not been in Alaska with water/freeze problems. Hopefully that will not last long for you. Neil enjoyed talking with you yesterday. Hope you find Denali a beautiful spot to visit. It is nice to be able to see the mountain as you drive towards the park. Often it is too cloudy to see the top. Your bear pictures are really neat (and the other animals also). You will be able to have a wonderful photo/animal exhibit when sharing your trip to classrooms in the future. Look forward to hearing the next entries of your trip.

  5. Heh Lawn Ranger - thanks for the comments - No, we will take the ferry to Skagway in September and then drive back down through Canada again (long drive, but it will be fine). Can't wait to see the "big brown bears" but I will certainly keep my distance!


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