My First Trip to Alaskaby: wiperhunter2
Day 1 - Friday, June 14
We got a late start because we were up late the night before getting things ready to go. We finally left at 12:30pm.
We made it to Helena, Mt. around 8:00pm. Because it was raining we looked for a motel first. Having no luck we thought we should get something to eat. By this time it is around 11:00pm.
After eating it had stopped raining, so we decided to go and camp out. All the camping areas were full so we just pulled off the side of the road and set up camp. It was better than sleeping in the car.
We made it to Dutton Mt. before stopping for gas. Before going across the border we went to a small grocery store and got food. We crossed the border and headed to Calgary. After stopping for lunch and gas and seeing the site of the 1988 Olympics we headed for our final stop for the day, Banff National Park.
That night we stayed at Lake Louise camp ground. What a view! A glacier fed lake with a German chateau on the shore line.
We had been on flat land with rolling hills until we reached Banff. Now the mountains seemed to go straight up. For the next 100 miles we saw 100 glaciers but that happens on day three. We thought the 10 dollar fee to go through the park was too much, but we found out just how wrong we were.
As we were driving through the park and looking at the different glaciers, we finally started seeing the animals.
First we saw three Rocky Mtn. Big Horn Sheep, they were just lying on the side of the road relaxing. Wow, what a sight. But that was just the start.
Next we saw two Rocky Mtn. Goats feeding on the side of the road. What a sight. Around the next corner we saw a caribou in the middle of a river. Next we see a black tail deer. That night in the camp ground Roxane saw a fox.
I got up early and went for a walk and saw a family of ducks by the lake. Later, when we got on the road we saw a beaver and another blacktail deer and Chris saw a caribou. All this happened in the first hour.
During the day we saw five moose, two more deer, two more caribou and our first bear, a black bear cub, about one year old. Wow, that was exciting.
Before stopping for the night, we saw our first stone sheep, five I believe and then another black bear, about two years old. This last bear we saw less than a mile from where we camped.
When I got up the next morning and went for my walk I was still thinking of the bear we had seen the night before. But all I saw was two rabbits. We were in the Yukon now and it was a long way between stops. It was like a desert, but with trees. At one of our first stops we talked with a man that had just come down from Alaska, he told us he had come through a snow storm of more than six inches.
It was raining as we drove on, we expected it to turn to snow at any time. Luckily it never turned to snow, but we saw it on the side of the road. We saw more moose and caribou. Two of the caribou were running down the center of the road until we got to them, then they went to our right. Both had antlers and were close, at least several hundred pounds, the biggest that we saw on the trip. That night we made it to Whitehorse, and camped outside the town at a campground with a hot springs resort, we were almost there now.
We saw few animals this day, if any, but we saw a lot of the big construction equipment, some almost three stories tall. A lot of this last section of road was good but some was very ruff. We were paying 71.9 cents a liter for gas.
We finally made it to the border after traveling almost 3,000 miles. After asking several questions the border guard said "Do you think this little car(91 Geo Metro) can made it to Anchorage," we laughed at that because of how far we had already come. As we entered Alaska we started noticing the roads were better but they had real bad ground swells, which was caused by the permafrost. It felt like we were on a roller coaster ride. The first good size city we came to was Tok, we spent the night there, in our first motel room since we left home. It was great! We paid 72 dollars for the room, we thought that was a lot, but found out later, that it was cheap.
We went to a grocery store and were amazed because the prices were cheaper than we thought they would be, real cheap compared to Canada.
We were on our way to Anchorage but wanted to stop on the way so Chris could fish. As we were leaving we looked up and saw two Bull Moose cross the road. We started looking for another place to fish but did not find one for quite a while. When we did, there were a lot of other people fishing there to. So while Chris was fishing I watched and talked with a few people. I found out that they were catching King salmon and watched as a few were brought in. The fish weighted between 20 and 30 lbs, and they looked huge. We left and headed on toward Anchorage and more great scenery.
Except for the mountains in the distance we saw nothing but trees and rivers until we got almost to Anchorage. First we could see the inlet water to the ocean, then the silt clogged river going to it. At last we could see up the river and there we saw a glacier. We could see all the way from the glacier to the ocean. Before long we were in Anchorage and looking for a motel, boy that was tough. We found some for 65 dollars, but they were full for another week. We found motels that were not full but cost 120 dollars a night.
After doing some shopping and eating we decided to head out of town toward the town of Seward. It was ten or eleven at night when we found a camp ground. Were almost there now!
We finally make it to Seward! First we looked around town and checked on the prices for a fishing charter and a wildlife tour. We decide that the fishing charter was too much ($175 ea.) but we could afford the wildlife tour ($50 ea.). We left from port and the first thing we see is a mature bald eagle, it must have had a seven foot wing span. We went up front and talked with the captain and soon we were seeing puffins, which are parrot like sea birds. Next we saw sea lions and while we were there the word came over the radio that there had been a whale sighting. We headed to the area where the whale had been sighted. Another boat was already there and we saw the whale blowing air through it's blow hole, that was all we could see. After the other ship left we started seeing more of the whale. It came partly out of the water two or three times and flipped its tail at us several times. On the way back we stopped by Keyhole rock, a formation of rock in the shape of a keyhole. When we headed back to shore we saw a sea otter swimming on its back.
As we were leaving Seward we stopped by Exit glacier and I got on the glacier. It had been a long day and as we left the town we had a lot of memories, and pictures to take home with us. We started looking for our next camp site and looking forward to our next day in Alaska.
We went back through Anchorage on our way to Valdez but had to stop and do laundry and shop before we left the big town. We also had dinner before leaving so we did not made it very far this day. We did try stopping outside Palmer to see the musk ox farm, but it had already closed. After finding a place to camp for the night Chris and I went down to the river. It was still very light but it was past 1:00 am in the morning so we went back to camp to sleep, and to dream about tomorrow.
We made it to Valdez by 12:00 and were hoping to get a fishing charter, but we were too late. We decided to book a charter for the next day but we were asked to wait until the weather report came in. When the weather report came in, it said that a storm was coming in and the seas would be too rough to go out. The man told us to come back the next day to find out how the weather would look then. We looked around and found a nice bed and breakfast in town and then Chris and I went fishing from shore. Chris caught a lot of fish, mainly cod.
The next day we got up and went to the dock. The weather was bad but we stayed out and fished from shore. Before the day was over Chris had caught over one hundred cod and herring. We decided to stay one more night at the bed and breakfast so we could get a early start the next day, on our way home.
We started back home, but before we left Alaska we stopped at a bridge to fish, I caught two Arctic Graying, then we were on the road again. After leaving Alaska we decided to make a side trip back into Alaska to Haines. There were rivers in Haines that had salmon running in them so we thought we would try for the salmon one more time.
We found the stream we were looking for and watched as a guy caught several nice Coho or silver salmon. We had been told that the fish were so thick that you could walk across the stream on them, but of course this was not true. So I watched as Chris fished, the first fish he caught was a Dolly Varden, which is an arctic char. It was about 12 in. long, the next fish was also a Varden, but this one was bigger, 17 in. Chris had a nice salmon on for a minute but lost it when the fish broke his line. Most of the salmon being caught were between 5 & 8 lbs. Chris fished until it was midnight and then we decided it was time to get some sleep. We sleep in the car until we had to be in line for the ferry. The ferry went from Haines to Skagway Alaska.
We found out that we could take showers on the ship, and then we tried to get some sleep before we got to Skagway. When we reached Skagway we watched as a huge cruise ship docked and took pictures of it with smaller boats and kayaks to show the comparison in size. We went into town and had breakfast, took more pictures then headed up the mountain toward the town of Whitehorse, which is in the Yukon.
What a climb out of Skagway and what a view! Once we reached Whitehorse we were back on the main road and into trouble. First we have two cars pass us, not at the same time, but both through up rocks which cracked our window. Then at the end of the day we get a flat tire, but we did not discover it until the next day. Lucky for us we just found a place to camp, not knowing about the tire going flat. The Lord was with us, because not only did we find a place to camp before the tire went flat, but we also were only a few miles from a town. We thought the Lord was surely watching over us.
We went into town the next morning and found a place that could repair the tire. Up until now we had received no problems or hassles about using US. currency, (except for the amount of the exchange). But when we went to pay for the tire we did not have enough Canada currency, so we gave him US Dollars and he called it "funny money." I asked him if he would rather have a travelers check. He replied that our money was ok but was unsure of how to make an exchange between US and Canada currency. We worked it out with him and were on our way.
What a difference it makes between driving the two main roads to Alaska, one is new and modern and the other is back woods and ruff, now we have been on both.
But being backwoods also has its advantages, we saw another bear, and as it turned out, our last bear. We stopped by a little gas station and dinner. We all got a sandwich and a bowl of soup.
This was our last chance to make one last detour into Alaska. Because we were only eight miles from the border we thought about it, but decided that we should keep going. We made it to Prince Rupert and spent the night in a nice camp ground by a lake.
When we got up the next morning we found out that there was even a shower we could use, down by the lake. After showering we got back on the road again. As we traveled the scenery started to change, from thick pines to more open country. We were still in areas that had pine trees but they were becoming farther apart. We went through a town that advertised that they held the biggest western rodeo in Canada or stampede as they called it. We found a nice place to camp not far outside of town. This was to be our last night of camping in Canada.
We were going down in elevation and it was getting hotter by the minute. We were following a river for the last twenty miles that did nothing but wind back and forth down the canyon, but finally we were down to the border. Finally back to the U.S.A. and as the day came to an end, we found a place to stay at a Motel 6, a real bed to sleep on.
We were right outside the city of Seattle, Wa. and our next stop was five hours away, Port Angeles Wa. The last time we had been in Port Angles was 14 years early right before Chris was born.
We arrived right before dark and after looking at the docks and finding ISAAC HOOK and the boat rental, we headed for the nearest camp ground.
We got up early the next morning to try and go fishing one more time before we headed for home. We went out to ISAAC HOOK and while we waited for the place to open I went for a walk. The time for them to open came and went, but no one showed up. We went back to the docks in town and found a place to get some breakfast. We talked with the waitress and found out that the owner of the restaurant also owned the boat rental place on Isaac hook. We talked to the owner and found out that his son managed the boat rental. He also told us that it should be open with in a few minutes. After eating we left for Isaac hook one more time, and this time it was open. We talked with the owner's son for a while and found out that we could not rent a boat because of record low tides, the boats were even out of the water, because of the low tides. After talking for a while we left for home.
We drove all the way to Pendleton Oregon before the day was over. This would be our last night on the road so when we stopped we had a good meal and stayed in a motel one last time.
We still had a long ways to go but this was our last day. We spent most of the day driving, but we made it home before dark. With the watchful eye of our LORD we had made the long trip, seen his awe-some creation and enjoyed a great adventure together. It was great to be home! We will never forget the experiences as long as we live.
Added: Tue Sep 02 2008
Last Modified: Fri May 15 2009