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National Parks Tour 2011

North America » United States » New York » New York » Brooklyn September 18th 2013

I got downstairs a bit before my 8 am pickup, which was a good thing, the driver was already there. One other couple from my tour was also on the bus, and then we stopped off at another hotel for a pick up. Quick check in at Alaska air kiosk and not too bad a line for the bag drop. A bit of a long line at TSA check, and apparently people up here haven't gotten the liquids memo, one of the agents had to keep reminding people that things weren't allowed. Wandered around the terminal a bit and ran into another couple from my tour (they had a slightly later flight). Flight down was good, absolutely gorgeous views of the mountains as we took off. Last 45 minutes of the flight was way bumpy. It ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Valdez September 14th 2013

Another early day for us (6:45 pick up), but not as early as for our poor bus driver who had to go from Valdez to Anchorage and then on to Whittier to pick us up from the boat ride. When I saw that this trip had a "cruise" on Prince William Sound, I figured it was a couple of hours in the Sound and back to Valdez. Nope, it's a 6.5 hour cruise from Valdez to Whittier. Since there were only 28 of us (27 tourists and one tour guide who got to play tourist today), the Stan Stephens cruise people put us on the smaller boat, which was just perfect for us. We were joined by one other couple, who turned out to be the captain's parents and were very nice. I think this cruise ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Tok September 12th 2013

Driving, driving, driving.... Okay, I admit that I took this trip because there were no internal flights, but boy, did I NOT realize how much driving there was on it. But again, long day, but not a bad day. Left Whitehorse around 8 am for Tok. We went through Tok on our way from Fairbanks to Dawson City, so I wan't expecting much at the end of the day. Our first stop was at a historic wooden bridge that was pretty picturesque, but I didn't try and walk across it. Next we stopped at the Haines Junction Cultural Center, which is the gateway to Kluane National Park and Reserve. It had some very nice First Nation stuff as well as a really cool relief map of Alaska on the floor. We crossed back from Canada to ... read more

North America » Canada » Yukon » Whitehorse September 12th 2013

First off, I need to put in a correction to something I said in my blog post about being stuck on the highway. I thought the nice couple in the camper went back to Eagle and told people we were stuck, but apparently, they found the construction camp and that's why the folks who showed up were the ones with the keys to the heavy machinery. Our first stop today was at the Beringia Center. Beringia is the name of the land mass formed between Siberia and Alaska during the last glacial period. They have a nice woolly mammoth skeleton, as well as a scimitar cat skeleton and a megasloth. They showed us a film about the center, and how the First Nation people of the area have helped in fossil collecting. Our second stop of ... read more

North America » Canada » Yukon » Whitehorse September 10th 2013

Today was another long bus day, but fortunately, it was a fairly quiet one. Dinner last night was maple garlic salmon. They put a lot of roasted garlic on it, i scrapped it off and mixed it into my mashed potatoes. Show at Gertie's was good, but not great. A lot of dancing, and that was a bit boring for my taste. I'm on the computer at the hotel, and it seems to be set to French, so I can't find the question mark.... And i have to keep remembering where the apostrophe is.... We left the hotel a bit before 9 this morning, to go over to the cultural center to watch a 15 minute film they made. They opened up early just for us. That was nice of them. As I said, today was ... read more

North America » Canada » Yukon » Dawson City September 9th 2013

Our announced time for leaving this morning was 9 am. As I left my room, I ran into Terry (the gentleman from Ontario), who told me that we'd moved back to 10 am because there were still problems with the bus and Sherry was trying to get another coach. When we met up at 10 am, she said that she'd gotten a different bus, but it wouldn't start, so no go, regroup at 1 pm. The town is laid out on a grid, with Front Street along the river, then 2nd Ave, 3rd Ave, etc... The cross streets are named streets. So I wandered along 3rd and 2nd Avenues, then down to Front Street and the trail on the dike along the river. Walked to the Visitor's Center and asked if the ferry took pedestrian passengers. ... read more

North America » Canada » Yukon » Dawson City September 8th 2013

Well, long and adventurous day today. Left hotel at 7 am in the grey and gloom again. Drove through North Pole, Alaska, where even the Mickey D's has a candy cane striped pole holding up the Golden Arches. First stop of the day was at Rika's roadhouse, which is a cute place but according to our tour guide will be closing at the end of the season because it's not as popular a stop off place as it used to be. Got a nice view of an interesting suspension bridge, not a car or people bridge, but rather a bridge of the pipeline. Lunch was at Fast Eddy's restaurant at Tok. If the weather had been nicer, I would have skipped lunch and wandered around (I still have plenty of granola bars), but since it was ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Fairbanks September 7th 2013

Left the hotel at 8 this morning heading over to the “Riverboat Discovery”. Turns out that’s both the name of the tour and the boat. Huge 4 deck sternwheel steamer boat. It goes up the Chena River to where it meets the Tanana River. On a clear day, it’s probably quite beautiful, but today was grey and foggy and a bit depressing. Some really incredible houses along the riverside. As the boat goes along the river, it stops for a bit near the home of Susan Butcher and her husband, who were/are dog racers. Susan is one of the few women to win the Iditarod. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years ago, so her husband runs the kennel now and does some runs to raise money for charity. You also see a fishwheel and get ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Denali September 7th 2013

First thing this morning was the “Husky Homestead” tour. It’s a tourist attraction run by Jeff King, who is a four time (I think) Iditarod champion. When you get off the bus, you get a puppy to hold and they are so cute… Then you meet Jeff and he introduces himself and some of the staff. One of the other staff members talks about breeding and raising the dogs while Jeff harnesses a team and takes them off for a run. When they get back you move inside and Jeff talks about running the race itself. I’m not sure how I feel about dog racing. I know that dogs love to run, and are bred to run, but it seems that making the dogs run 1000 miles in the ice and snow for fun isn’t quite ... read more

North America » United States » Alaska » Denali National Park September 6th 2013

Last night was our “welcome” dinner even though it was our second night. It was at the Murie Learning Center. Dinner itself was a buffet, with Tuscan chicken, veggie lasagna, bowtie pasta with shrimp and salad. Dessert was tiramisu which was interesting because it was frozen. After dinner we had a talk by a naturalist, which was interesting, but a bit long winded. Another early morning today, bus for the Park left at 7 am. Converted school bus, so a bit uncomfortable, but it was equipped with a camera controlled by the driver, and some screens, so when we spotted animals in the distance, he zoomed in and we were able to see them. This place was GORGEOUS. My pictures will never do it justice. The foliage is changing color, so the meadows are a mix ... read more

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