We were awake at 7.30 for a cup of tea and then had breakfast outside. We got some fuel and some propane, and also cleaned the Bam at the self-service Car Wash. We took the Tok Cut-off road and stopped at Eagle Trail Recreation Site where we had a pleasant mile-long walk before having coffee sitting outside on a wooden 'sleeper'. We were using our new "Milepost" book. We had lunch at Porcupine Creek Recreation Site where there was snow beside a stream. We sat outside, but there were mossies! We continued with views to the Wrangell Mountains - and had several "Scenic" stops. We drove on to Gakona Junction and turned south on to the Richardson Highway. We visited the Visitors Centre overlooking the confluence at the Copper River with the Gakona river, with Mount Sanford in the distance.
Tuesday 2nd July. 94 Miles.
We had breakfast outside. We continued on the Richardson Highway and viewed "Pump Station No. 12" of the Alaskan pipeline. We had coffee with a view to Worthington Glacier and then stopped at the glacier and walked to it.
We woke late. There was a grey start to the day. We left after breakfast and drove via Old Valdez into Valdez to the library and sent an e-mail. We had coffee afterwards and then walked up to a lookout. We got some fuel and then left Valdez at midday and retraced our route over the Thompson Pass, stopping at different viewpoints. There was very thick cloud on top, then the weather became much clearer and the afternoon was warm and windy. We had lunch by Worthington Lake. We stopped to view the pipeline at a different site.
Thursday 4th July. Happy second birthday Felix! - American Independence Day 118 miles.
It rained most of the night, and was a very grey morning, but it brightened up later. We woke quite late, and left after breakfast and drove a couple of miles to the Glenn Highway Junction. We stopped by the Visitors Centre, which we had visited on Monday and phoned Emma. We drove on through Glennallen and parked and watched the 4th July parade. We got lots of sweets and a frisbee thrown from the floats of the parade.
Friday 5th July. 114 miles.
It was a grey morning, but sunny later. We had breakfast then left and continued on the Glenn Highway. We stopped to view the Matanuska River just before Palmer, and then visited the Musk Ox Farm. We had a delightful guide called Eva, formerly from Latvia.
Saturday 6th July. 31 miles.
I woke up early with cystitis. A chap was running his car engine, but I then slept until 8.45. I went for a shower and a woman turned mine on by mistake after I'd finished and was nearly dressed! We had breakfast then drove to Fred Meyer. Adrian bought some sandals and a lot of wine then got some fuel. We drove on to Walmart and I took in my films. It was very busy in there. We then drove via an RV place to the Saturday Markets. We walked around the markets and then went on to the Visitors Centre to take a photo by a signpost to London and Whitby.
Sunday 7th July 67 miles
I woke early with bad cystitis. We drove to Anchorage Hospital and I saw Dr Sims about my cystitis. Everyone was very nice, but it was horrendously expensive ($260, and later $35 for the prescription, and this doesn't include the doctors fee!) We had to pay it, as they couldn't fax England, so we hope that the insurance company pays up. We drove to Fred Meyer to collect the prescription and had lunch while we were waiting. We also took back yesterday’s bacon which was very fatty. We left Anchorage at 2 o'clock on the Seward Highway and stopped at the Kenai Peninsular Visitors Centre beside the sea/mud flats and railway, making us think of Exmouth. We visited the Centre and got an Alaska sticker. We continued on the road beside Turnagain Arm. It was very beautiful, but there was a lot of traffic. We stopped several times to enjoy the view - at Beluga Point we saw Dall Sheep high up on the hillside, and at Bird Point we looked at lots of information boards.
We drove up to Girdwood - where there was a big Forest Faire going on, but it was really busy so we returned and continued to Twenty Mile River.
Monday 8th July. 20 miles.
We got up soon after 7 o'clock after a good night's sleep. We had breakfast then drove along the road to Whittier through lovely scenery of mountains with snow on either side, the river and glaciers. We stopped to view the Portage Lake (but the glacier is only visible by boat as it is receding) and then proceeded to the tunnel. After paying the toll ($12) we were able to drive straight through. It is a single-track railway tunnel, doubling as a road tunnel. We stopped briefly at the other end and then continued one mile further to Whittier - it was a one-and-a-half hour wait until the boat left at 11 o'clock so I wrote a few postcards and we had a drink.
We then had a brilliant day on Prince William Sound and saw lots more glaciers. I took a photo of Cascade and Berry Glaciers and then of Berry and Cox Glaciers. We saw and photographed hundreds of kittiwakes by a waterfall.
We were given a large cookie on the homeward run. Back at Whittier, just after 5 o'clock, we had a short walk around, but there was very little there, just a few cafes and gift shops and one very large "condominium block". We drove back to the tunnel and were able to drive through just after 6 o'clock. We drove back up Whittier Road towards the Seward Highway. We stopped to view Portage Lake, with ice floes and glaciers.
Tuesday 9th July. 102 miles.
We woke late - 8.45 - after a good sleep, to a grey morning. We had breakfast then left his lovely spot and drove back a couple of miles to the Junction and then continued on the Seward Highway. It was pretty scenery through Turnagain Pass. We had coffee by Jerome Lake, where there were some yellow water lilies. Just before Seward we took the Exit Glacier Road for eight and-a-half miles to Exit Glacier, part of Kenai Fjords National Park. We had lunch, and then a pleasant walk for two hours up to and around the end of the Glacier and then back by different route.
Wednesday 10th July. 132 miles.
It was a beautiful morning. We had breakfast sitting in the front seats with our wonderful view. We left just after 9 o'clock and headed back on the Seward Highway. We stopped to view Lilypad Lake and then for coffee at the junction with the Sterling Highway at Tern Lake.
Thursday 11th July. 130 miles.
It turned into another beautiful day. We continued north to Captain Cook Recreation Area - several miles - and had breakfast overlooking Stormy Lake.
Friday 12th July. 150 miles.
We woke to a part cloudy morning, but it turned hot and sunny. We had breakfast sitting in the cab and then left and drove off the sand spit - we passed a launderette so stopped and did the washing. We shopped in Eagles (Safeway) and then returned to put the washing in the drier. We drove up East Hill Road and along Skyline Drive and stopped for coffee with a lovely view across Homer Spit and Kachemak Bay (with some noisy lorries).
Saturday 13th July. 139 miles.
I slept until 8.30. It was a fine day, which turned hot and sunny. We had breakfast, then left and stopped by the bridge at Cooper Landing and then continued to the Seward Highway Junction at Tern Lake. We had coffee at Summit Lake, sitting against the crash barrier. We stopped several times to view, and once saw two bald eagles. We turned off on to the Hope Highway for 18 miles. It was a pretty road, and fairly quiet. We drove around Porcupine Campsite, but this was full and then around Hope - an old mining town - but there was nowhere to stop. We drove back towards the Seward Highway and had lunch just before we reached it, sitting outside, but there were flies and mossies. We stopped at the junction and walked to the old bridge and saw four large salmon spawning!
Sunday 14th July. 92 miles.
There were some rowdy people during the night, and then we woke late. We left Anchorage on the Glenn Highway. We decided not to go to Eklutna Lake, which was mostly a dirt road, but we did walk to Thunderbird Falls, which was one mile each way. We stopped for lunch beside the Knik River, but Adrian had noticed a light come on about the engine. We took the Parks Highway west - and turned off towards Knik, where we got a bit lost, but miraculously found ourselves at the Iditarod Dog Trail Headquarters, which is where we were heading for. We had a look around here and watched a video about the race, and then had a short "dog sled" ride.
Monday 15th July. 109 Miles.
It was a grey start and then a lovely day. We left after breakfast and drove (through more roadworks) to Willow. Adrian made phone calls regarding the Bam engine and I wrote some postcards. We had to drive back 30 miles (through the roadworks again) to Wasilla to have the fuel pipe hose fixed. We arrived at the repairers at about 1 o'clock and I made up some sandwiches, which we ate in the visitors lounge. We had to wait until 3.30 for the van to be finished. We had nothing with us to do, so read the newspaper and some magazines. We now left and drove back through Wasilla (and the roadworks once again). We stopped beside the Kashwitna River and then proceeded to Talkeetna, which was 14 miles off the road. Adrian got some money at the junction. We went into a flight place and booked a flight around Mount McKinley for tonight. I cooked supper of spaghetti in the Bam, in the car park in front of the flight office. From there we left on a small plane (with three others, plus the pilot) for a 1½-hour tour of the Mount McKinley area. We saw several bears and one moose. We got back at 9.30 and stayed the night in the car park.
Tuesday 16th July. 193 miles.
We were woken by a noisy train at 7am, so got up and left at 7.20. We drove through the "Historic" village of Talkeetna and then back to a viewpoint of Mount McKinley for breakfast, sitting in the cab. We returned to the Parks Highway and continued towards Denali - with many good views of Mount McKinley and the other mountains. It was a beautiful day. We drove through Denali State Park and viewed and photographed Mount McKinley from Princess Drive and from Denali Viewpoint South.
Wednesday 17th July. 21 miles (plus 8 hours in the bus)
We set the alarm for 7.00 am and got up and breakfasted then drove back into Denali National Park for our eight hour bus trip. It was a beautiful morning and we had an excellent day - cloudy in the late afternoon with a heavy hail shower, otherwise good. It was a much more enjoyable day than we had imagined, although there was one group of "thick" Americans (from New York). We met again a very nice couple from Oregon who were on the boat from Prince Rupert with us (but we don't really remember!). At the first stop, Teklanika River, we saw mountain sheep high up. Also on the trip we glimpsed one bear, and we saw lots of caribou - one group later on the skyline in the distance. We had an excellent guide/driver called Terry with a very dry sense of humour. At the second stop, Polychrome there were lovely views and lots of flowers.
Thursday 18th July. 121 miles
It was a fine morning but we breakfasted inside as an RV had come in behind us late last night and was now running its generator, also the sun went in. We left at 10 o'clock and drove 10 miles south to Cantwell, and then on the Denali Highway, which was unsurfaced after two miles and often very rough.
Friday 19th July. 108 Miles.
We were awake with mossies buzzing in the night and then slept until 9.00 am. It was a lovely day. We had breakfast outside then left at 10.10. We very soon reached the surfaced section and drove on towards the junction with the Richardson Highway. I took a photo by Round Tangle Lake and then we stopped for coffee by Seven Mile Lake with Summit Lake and the Gulkana Glacier beyond.
Saturday 20th July. 94 Miles.
Neither of us had slept well, and then we awoke to rain! We had breakfast inside and then drove back half a mile to the launderette. We put the washing in. At the library opposite we sent an e-mail and then we collected our washing. We drove a few miles to Big Delta, the confluence of the Delta River and the Tanana River. This was the site of Big Delta State Historic Park and Rika's Road House. We had a very nice visit here. There were lots of old / restored log cabins, a lovely garden, and a very pleasant gift shop in one of the buildings. I bought a book and toy for Ruby and two packs of Alaskan cards. Later we chatted to the young "manager" called Hatfield (surname).
Sunday 21st July. 98 miles.
We woke to sunshine and blue sky. We had breakfast then shopped in Carr's and also got some booze. We drove into Fairbanks to Alaskaland and spend about three hours there (free) - it was like an open-air museum with a gold mining town of log cabins, which were delightful. There were many little museums, plus one larger museum and an Indian museum. There was also the Sternwheeler ‘Nenana’ and an original railway carriage. We had a ride on a little steam train (after buying tickets mistakenly for a diesel train).
Monday 22nd July. 230 miles.
We woke to fine morning, but the sun didn't get to us, so we had breakfast inside and then left and drove back along Chena Springs Road, enjoying the lovely scenery, and passing several more moose. The road was often bumpy. At Fairbanks we took the Steese Highway for five miles to Fox, where we got some fuel and then we went on the Elliott Highway through wilderness forested hilly country for 73 miles to the junction with the Dalton Highway. We thought that only the first 30 miles were paved, but roadworks started at mile 28 - we had to wait for the pilot car- but then we found that more of the road was paved -hooray! We had coffee on an old bit of highway near the Tatalina River Bridge. It was already hot. There was a second lot of road works before the Junction - we spoke to a lady "flagger". We set off on the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle - which was unsurfaced, but not too bad. We stopped by Hess Creek, where I got a lot of mossie bites. We had had lunch inside just before. We stopped at the Yukon River, which was really large.
Tuesday 23rd July. 202 miles.
I awoke soon after 3 am and then Adrian woke up and we heard rain! We decided to get up and leave, so started heading back from the Arctic Circle at 3.50 am. We stopped at the Yukon River at about 5.15am and dozed a bit until about 7 o'clock and then had breakfast. We made a quick dash to view the Yukon River (mossies). Adrian got some fuel (expensive), and then we continued on the Dalton Highway. We drove on to the Elliott Highway and had coffee beside the road at Livengood. We had to drive back through the roadworks - 2 waits for pilot cars. We spoke to our nice lady flagger again. We stopped at Joy (Road House) and Adrian bought an Arctic Circle T-shirt. We had lunch looking out to fireweed and forest.
We stopped at the Eldorado Gold Mine at 2.55, just in time to go on the 3 o'clock tour on a little train. The train was full, but they waited for us. I found it very touristy and crowded. We panned for gold and each bought a T-shirt afterwards.
Wednesday 24th July. 29 miles.
It was sunny when we woke up, but then clouded over so we had breakfast inside. Adrian rang Trail-lite because he found last night that the air-conditioning wasn't working, but he didn't have any luck. We did the emptying and filling and then left at 10.30 and drove to the Botanic Gardens at the University. These were small, but pretty.
Thursday 25th July. 152 miles.
It rained all night and in the morning, and then it was sunshine and showers. After breakfast Adrian phoned Trail-Lite and also Dallas storage - both were successful. We wrote cards and posted them at North Pole Post Office and I took a photo of the pretty red, white and blue flowers outside.
Monday 1st July 174 Miles
We continued towards Valdez and stopped for the night at Squirrel Creek Recreation Site. We had a fire and cooked corn on the cob, potatoes and some excellent pork. We had a walk around the site.
The confluence of the Copper River and the Gakona river
The scenery all around was lovely - very green. There were a lot of good information boards here. We had lunch a bit further on looking at 27 Mile Glacier and then continued over Thompson Pass, which was green and lovely.
There was a lot of snow and lots of glaciers. We drove down and through Keystone Canyon, passing the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horsetail Falls. There were some lovely wild flowers. At Valdez we stopped at Crooked Creek salmon spawning area, but we were too early to see salmon here. We drove on into Valdez and went to the Visitors Centre and then to the library where we read our e-mails and then on to the launderette. We shopped at Safeway then got some money and some booze before driving to Glacier campsite. We used our little barbie for the first time (corn on the cob and pork and then bananas). We also had a fire with the last of our wood. It was our 100th night in the Bam, so we celebrated with a bottle of bubbly. It was cold, we had a short walk around.
27 Mile Glacier
Cheers to our first 100 nights in the Bam
We had seen a forest fire and fire engines. We turned off on the Copper Centre loop and Adrian bought some firewood. We stopped at a rest area with a view to the Wrangell Mountains just south of Glennallen. We had a short walk around on an old bit of road. I cooked prawn omelette for supper. It came on to rain. I started doing the diary on the computer.
Adrian by the Prudhoe Bay to Valdez pipeline
We continued on the Glenn Highway through attractive scenery. We stopped several times to look at the view of Nelchina Glacier and at Eureka Summit (3322 ft) for lunch.
High as a flag on the 4th July, Glennallen
We had a walk into the "Bush" near Gunsight Mountain. We stopped by another Sheep Mountain (no sheep again) and then several times to view the Matanuska Glacier.
At the State Site we had a one mile walk towards the glacier. We stopped near King Mountain just after Chickaloon. We ate feta salad and then barbecued chicken on the little barbie and ate this with prawn pasta. We had a short walk to the rushing Matanuska River. It was a fine evening.
We drove on into Palmer and bought a nice loaf and donuts, but couldn't get the photos done or have a swim (the pool was closed for the long weekend). We left on the Old Glenn Highway, and had lunch by the river after a walk around and across the bridge. At Knik River we drove 10 miles up the Knik River Road, but there were no good views of the glacier. We stopped by the river on our return.
We then drove back to the Glenn Highway and on into Anchorage. We located the Visitors Centre and got some more leaflets! There were amazing flowers again. We visited the small "Resolution Park" with a statue of Captain Cook.
We drove around and finally stopped at Centennial Park campsite, but no fires were allowed because of vandalism. We looked through the leaflets. I cooked prawn, rice and peas and we ate outside. We walked around the site - there were lots of bashed up vehicles and "seen better days" people! It was still light when we went to bed at 11 o'clock.
The Bam beside the Knik River
Adrian by Captain Cook, Anchorage
We called in at 2 tour places. We went back to Walmart for my photos and then on to Home Depot and Adrian bought some gloves. We took the photos back to Walmart as they had several marks on them but were otherwise good. Again it was very busy in there. We drove on to the Botanical Gardens, which were quite pleasant, and we had a nice 2 kilometre walk along the trail, but there were lots of mosquitoes!
Anchorage Saturday Market
How far are Whitby and London?
It was warm and sunny now. We drove back to Walmart car park but the queue was too long to collect the photos. Adrian collected them later, but the place was in chaos! I bought some photo albums. I cooked chicken, chips and peas then sorted through the photos.
Lovely meconopsis in Anchorage Botanical Gardens
Turnagain Arm from Bird Point
We passed Old Portage town site, which had been flattened in the 1964 Earthquake. We stopped at the junction with Whittier Road then returned one mile to the Visitors Centre and booked a boat trip for tomorrow from Whittier, and then came back to the layby. The scenery all around was stunning with mountains, snow, glaciers and the blue sky. Adrian cooked salmon outside and I made tomato tacos. We had a short walk around - the sky was still blue at 11pm.
Whittier/Portage Glacier Access Road Junction
Twenty Mile River
We were served a very tasty halibut lunch and had free coffee/ tea/ lemonade. The captain and three staff were really pleasant and it was a nice commentary. We weren't able to see the salmon hatchery, as there were too many fishing boats around because the chum salmon had just arrived and there were purse seine fishing boats everywhere. We were able to watch these at close hand, which was great.
Cascade and Berry Glaciers
Berry and Cox Glaciers
Kittiwakes around a waterfall
The sun shone for most of the time, and it was often warm, but sometimes cold and windy! We stopped for a long time by Surprise/Stairstep Glacier, which was not so blue as Tracy Arm, but there was lots of "calving". We saw dozens of seals, but best of all we watched sea otters which were delightful!
Seine fishing boats with their catch of salmon
Seals and sea otters around Surprise Glacier
We drove around Williwaw campground, but it was full so we continued and found a track to a delightful spot beside the Portage River. Adrian cooked pork on the barbie, and then lit a fire. We sat out until almost 11pm.
Beside Portage River
We drove back along the road and then into Seward, which is in a lovely situation at the end of a long fjord. We parked by the front and walked around. We inquired at the library but there was no Internet access until 7 o'clock so we came back and then posted a few cards and went to the Visitors Centre and rang up and booked a raft trip for tomorrow. We had a short shop in a shop which is now Safeway and then got some water and dumped and then headed for the front again (RV parking $12). We returned to the library and sent one or two emails, then I cooked a chicken and rice dish with some nice French beans, and we sat in the cab to eat with our wonderful view. Later we saw a sea otter.
The Bam in our wonderful waterfront position at Seward
We followed the Sterling Highway to Cooper Landing, stopping briefly by Daves Creek. After lunch we had a two hour "float" down the Kenai River with a pleasant "guide" Shannon and a couple from Iowa - Karen and Ken. We saw a kingfisher and millions of caddis flies but no other wildlife.
Just afterwards in the pick-up vehicle we saw a moose as we returned to Cooper Landing. We drove back now in the Bam and saw the moose again, but it was just leaving. We had a cup of tea at Jim's Landing (where the raft had landed). It was very warm and sunny. We drove on through Sterling to Soldotna. We got some fuel at Fred Meyers. We didn't stop here for the night - but perhaps should have done! We tried the Centennial campsite, but it was almost full and very busy. We took the Kalifornski Beach Road and turned off 4½ miles and then one mile of rough road to another site, but we didn't stop here either. It was very busy everywhere, and there was nowhere to pull off and stop - we continued until 7.30, when we were able to stop on a waste bit of ground beside the road, exhausted - at Nikiski. We had a beer and some crisps, and later prawns (in shells), french beans, mushrooms and chips.
A float down the Kenai River
We now travelled back down the Kenai Spur Road, stopping for a view of the inlet at Nikiski, and then had a superb swim at lovely Nikiski Swimming Pool. We had coffee afterwards in a little park, and then headed for Kenai. We viewed the inlet from several points (Spruce Road, Beluga Lookout, Bluff View). We also viewed some old buildings and a Russian Orthodox Church and chapel.
We now took the Kalifornski Beach Road and stopped for lunch at a picnic table overlooking the Kenai Flats and Kenai River. The Kalifornski Beach Road was very uninteresting, with no views. We joined the Sterling Highway again and headed south, past Kasilov and Ninilchik. We looked out at the Ninilchik River overlook with a view over the Inlet and later we stopped with a view to Mount Iliamna.
We drove past Anchor Point and stopped at a viewpoint to Homer Spit and beyond and then continued down to Homer. We got some water and did the dumping - we had to wait ages. We followed the road to Homer Spit and drove right to the end. We saw a sea otter and then found a place to camp and saw another sea otter.
Russian Orthodox Chapel
Lots of people fishing at the mouth of the Kenai River
Adrian lit a fire on the beach. We cooked pork, potatoes, squash, pepper and mushrooms. Beaut! We sat out until after 10 o'clock, and then walked along the beach, where we saw two bald eagles. It was a beautiful sky at sunset, just before 11 o'clock.
Views from Homer Spit
Spot the two bald eagles in the centre of the photo
Barbie on Homer Beach
Sunset at 11.00pm!
We returned to collect the washing and then left Homer just after midday. We took the Old Sterling Highway to Anchor Point - the most westerly Highway Point in North America.
Looking down to Homer Spit
Looking across Lake Beluga to Homer
We then had lunch at a picnic table in Halibut Park (adjacent) with blue geraniums and chocolate lilies nearby. We walked down to and across the beach and had a paddle. We came back to the Sterling Highway and bought some firewood then continued north to Soldotna through Ninilchik (we viewed Deep Creek) and Kasilov. We got fuel at Fred Meyer's in Soldotna, then drove through Sterling (there was nothing much there). We had a cup of tea at the turn-off to Skilak Lake Road but decided not to follow it, as it was gravel. We continued past Russian River (the site was full) to Cooper Creek Campsite (just before our raft launch). We had a fire and sat out until 10.30. We walked around and came in at 10.45.
We continued through Turnagain Pass where there were pretty flowers to Whittier Road junction. We visited "Big Game Alaska" and saw moose, caribou, elk, sitka deer, black bear cubs, an owl and a grizzly bear. There were lots of coaches and people!
A moose in ‘Big Game Alaska’
We continued north to Beluga Point to watch a bore come up the river. We waited for an hour, but there was no bore so we continued to Anchorage - Walmart (South) Car-park. I took in my film and then cooked spaghetti Bolognese.
We returned to the Parks Highway at Wasilla and shopped in Shoprite. We turned off to the Big Lake Campsites, but realised too late that camping here was closed because of cuts in finance. (we had heard the discussion about this on the radio recently). We returned to the Parks Highway and through a small place called Houston (another one) where there were lots of shacks selling fireworks. We then had a long stretch of half finished roadworks, before turning off to Nancy Lake to camp. There were no other people here (the boat ramp was closed!). We had a short walk to the lake - but it wasn't really accessible - and then we had a cup of tea sitting outside in the hazy sunshine. Later we had a fire and cooked chicken, potatoes, corn on the cob, and mushrooms. We walked up afterwards and bought some firewood from the camp host and had to carry it back! It was a warm evening.
The Iditarod dog sled run
Views from our flight around Denali (Mt. McKinley)
At Troublesome Creek we went on a one kilometre walk to the Chulitna River.
We stopped at Denali Viewpoint North and then beside the road with views of the mountains for lunch of feta salad, which we ate inside after viewing Hurricane Gulch bridge. We continued to Denali National Park through Cantwell. We drove to the Visitors Centre and booked on an eight hour bus trip into Denali for tomorrow (the only way you can see Denali) but the campsite was full so we booked into a site one mile north of the park. We did the dumping, got water, and later fuel. We bought a few things in the shop and then drove the 15 miles you are allowed, into the park. We didn't see any wildlife but stopped briefly at the Savage River and then drove back. We visited the shop in Denali, but it was very expensive and I only bought some pork chops. We drove back to the site. We used the little barbecue to cook on and ate outside and then walked around the nearby tourist shops. We came back and chatted to the chap next door to us who was from Texas.
Denali Rainbow RV Park.
Views of Denali (Mt McKinley) from the Princess Drive
View of Denali (Mt McKinley) from the Chulitna River
The scenery became more wonderful the further we went, and the flowers more prolific. The far end of our trip was Eielson Visitor Centre, where we ate our sandwiches. There were wonderful views from here and Mount McKinley "emerged" above the cloud.
Views of Denali National Park from Polychrome
We had a short walk here and then began the return journey, stopping twice - once by the Toklat River, where the caribou we had seen on the way was still in the water.
Around Eielson Visitors Centre - Mt Mckinley just emerging above clouds in centre of bottom photo
We stopped again at Teklanika River. We arrived back just before 5 o'clock and then drove in the Bam out of the park and soon afterwards saw an adult and baby moose near the road! We stopped for the night in a pleasant lay-by beside the Nenana River. Adrian cooked bacon and eggs outside. It was a lovely warm evening.
Caribou in the Toklat River
Adrian cooking supper beside the Nenana River
The scenery was splendid - we had a good last glimpse of Mount McKinley. We had coffee early by Joe Lake, which was beautiful and peaceful. We sat outside on some stones of a "fireplace".
The Bam on the rough Denali Highway
We drove into Brushkana campground, but there were lots of mossies so we didn't walk the trail. We had lunch soon afterwards in the Bam with nice views to a glacier, but the weather became cloudy and later we had rain for a while. This cleared again, but visibility was not always good. We stopped several times for views - it was lovely and quiet, and there was very little traffic. We followed the Nenana River at first, and later crossed the Susitna River on a bridge that looked broken from the other side. The road was often built on an esker [the ridge formed by sand and gravel of a former glacier stream channel].
Joe Lake and the Tundra landscape
We had a cup of tea by Clearwater Creek. We crossed the McLaren River and then ascended McLaren Summit (4086 ft). I took a photo near here of the tundra landscape and we saw a moose in the distance - the only wildlife we saw apart from ptarmigan (we think) and ground squirrels and swallows. We continued to Rock Creek and found a nice little informal campsite beside the stream. Adrian lit a fire. There were mossies but we still sat out until 10 o'clock. We cooked some good pork chops and potatoes and courgette. There were a lot of swallows here and a couple of seagulls and a pair of pretty little birds.
The Denali Highway built along an esker
Our fire beside Rock Creek
We stopped at Gulkana River Bridge and watched four spawning sockeye salmon.
Round Tangle Lake
View to Gulkana Glacier
We now joined the Richardson Highway at Paxson and drove north. We stopped by Summit Lake for lunch outside. We drove through Isabel Pass and viewed the pipeline and then went through an area of road works (messy) so no video! We stopped to view Black Rapids Glacier then drove around Donnelly Creek Campground, which was empty, and filled a water bottle from the pump. We stopped to view the pipeline again, and then just afterwards at a lovely viewpoint to Mounts Deborah, Hess and Hayes. At Delta Junction, where the Alaska Highway ends, we stopped at the Visitors Centre. We got someone to take a photo of us by the Alaska Highway sign.
Impressive spawning salmon turned red
We tried the library, but it was closed. We shopped in IGA and then stopped at Delta State Campground in the hot sunshine. We had a fire and cooked potatoes, a bobbly squash and red snapper and prawns. It was a very warm evening. We sat out until 10 o'clock.
At the end of the Alaska Highway
We left after 1.00 pm and continued north for a few miles, and then pulled in off the road near a little pond for lunch. Just as we rejoined the road we saw a moose. A few miles further on we stopped by Birch Lake and saw another moose in the water by the water lilies. We watched for a long time. Great! We saw another moose gambolling along soon afterwards.
We now continued north past Eielson Airbase to North Pole. We stopped at the Visitors Centre (I bought a pencil) and then drove through the small town, down Santa Claus Lane, to a free overnight parking area. There was a car-wash here, and Adrian cleaned the back of the Bam (which was filthy!) We drove to nearby Santa Claus House in St Nicholas Drive and looked around.
We drove towards Chena Lake Recreation Area, but decided that it was too far so we returned to our overnight spot. The weather had turned hot and sunny after lunch. I cooked minced beef tortillas and we sat outside until 10 o'clock.
Santa Claus House
We had lunch in the park afterwards by the Nenana, but the place was now very busy. We left here, and did the dumping nearby and got some fresh water, and then some fuel on the outskirts of Fairbanks before heading for Chena Hot Springs. We also got some propane. We stopped to view a mother and baby moose on the way to the Hot Springs. When we got to the hot springs I made a cup of tea, but the water tasted bad, although it was OK when cold. We visited the Hot Springs ($10 each) - there was one large outdoor pool surrounded by rocks, but it was too hot to get in to! We had a short sunbathe and a swim in the indoor pool but this was crowded. There were also 2 small hot tubs inside and a large one outside. It was all a bit busy, and the changing facilities were inadequate. There were beautiful flowers outside - one display in the ruin of a vintage car! We drove back to a lovely spot beside the North Fork of the Chena River. Adrian lit a fire. The sun was hot. We had seen more moose. We cooked baked potatoes and corn on the cob and had prawns and cheese. It was very warm until the sun went down. We came in at 10 o'clock.
Mother and baby moose
Campfire by the Chena River
The weather was very warm. We viewed the river, and then stopped by the BLM kiosk before continuing north. We stopped just after mile 90 and took a photo / video of the pipeline beyond (this was just before Dall Creek).
Adrian by the Yukon River
The scenery now became low scrub tundra. We stopped at Finger Rock and walked a pleasant short trail with good views and spoke to a couple with a tour van. We continued across the Kanuti River and then discovered that the road was surfaced almost to the Arctic Circle (mile 115). We stopped by the sign and took video and a photo. There were a lot of mosquitoes.
By the Alaska pipeline again
We camped in an "unmaintained" campsite just beyond, but were disappointed that there were no views past the scrubby trees. We attempted to walk out at 10.30, but there were too many mossies. It was still light at midnight.
We cross the Arctic Circle
The roadhouse at Joy
We got back at about 5 o'clock and then drove in the Bam to Fairbanks. We located the Tanana Valley Campground and had a site with electricity in the sunshine ($15 and no Good Sam reduction that we had seen in the leaflet). We had email access from the lady's caravan. Adrian phoned and booked a riverboat trip for tomorrow, and then we lit a fire although it was really hot. We cooked gammon, baked potatoes and butternut squash and then had a short walk around but we both felt pretty knocked out from our early start! It was a lovely warm evening. A hot air balloon went over just above us. We came in for an early night!
We drove to the riverboat landing for our trip. We had a really pleasant 3½ hour trip on the Chena and Tenana Rivers. It was a very large boat with hundreds of people, mostly all on tours, but everything was very nicely done. We stopped at several "sites" along the shore - a small plane took off and landed for us; we saw a lady called Dixie Alexander prepare salmon in just a few seconds; we saw dog musher Jessie and her dogs. We stopped at a "mock up" Indian village and saw Dixie again doing beadwork; Jessie and the dogs (and also Dixie's young niece) "mushing" and various Indian homes plus a birch bark canoe and some reindeer. Altogether a really good trip.
Amazingly large cabbages at the Botanic Gardens
We arrived back at about 5.30 and headed for Fred Meyer's and got some fuel and then did some shopping. We left there at 7.30 and arrived at North Pole, at our freebie site at 8 o'clock. I cooked Steelhead trout and chips and Adrian cooked cauliflower outside.
The plane which took off and landed for us
Dixie preparing salmon
And doing beadwork
Preparing skins and a coat made by Dixie
We continued south on the Richardson Highway. We stopped at Birch Lake - no moose this time - but we saw a mother and baby moose later and two more, separately, on the Alaska Highway. We had lunch overlooking the Tanana River and then stopped at Big Delta by the "Fur Shack" (and saw the fur bikini!) and we also viewed the pipeline suspension bridge over the Tanana River here. We continued to Delta Junction, through a heavy shower, but took the loop around Jack Warren Road and Clearwater Road to the Alaska Highway. We had a cup of tea by Gerstle River, a long bridge like the "Silver Link” bridge in Australia. We stopped for the night by Bear Creek. Adrian checked the tyres. I cooked chicken and cauliflower and I made a "bannock"!