Feisty Old Woman, Ketchikan, Totem Poles

Feisty Old Woman, Ketchikan, Totem Poles

This Feisty Old Woman dreamed for many years to see real totem poles. Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of these carved beauties. Totem poles were not worshiped as some early missionaries once thought. Totems tell a story about a particular person, clan, myth, or legend. In a world where we struggle to find meaning, the totem guides us through various symbols to know what the carver wants us to know, yet leaves some things open for personal interpretation. The meaning is clear but we can apply the interpretation to best aid us in our own lives.

Totem Bight State Historic Site

Totem Bight State Historic Site is located 10 miles from Ketchikan on the N. Tongass Hwy. It’s worth the drive.  The Tlingit and Haida Native peoples both have totem poles representing their stories at Totem Bight State Historic Site. The information in quotes and the photo of the symbolic characters are from the tourist brochure I received upon entry into the Site. You can find more information on the website: dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/totembgh.htm

View from Totem Bight State Historical Park

Totem Pole Restoration

Totem pole restoration began due to the early migration in the 1900’s of many of the First Nation people. They moved to the European settler’s communities so they could find work. Many villages and totems were deserted and the totem poles eroded over the years.

“In 1938, the U.S. Forest Service began a program aimed at salvaging and reconstructing these large cedar monuments. By using Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) funds to hire skilled carvers from among the older Natives, two things took place: young artisans learned the art of carving totem poles and totems which had been left in the woods to go back into the earth were either repaired or duplicated.”

The artist were meticulous in duplicating the totems, even the tools were hand made to give each carving the authenticity of the original works of art.

Totem Pole Symbols

Totem pole symbols help us to “read” what the carver wants tell us. Here is a photo of inside the brochure:

I carried the brochure with me as I walked the trail trying to recognize what each totem was trying to tell me. I admit to not always being able to tell if the beak was long and straight like a Raven, or curved like an Eagle. Of course there are many more symbols than listed in the brochure, but it was still very helpful. Here’s another helpful photo for information:

Totem Bight Clan House

The Totem Bight Clan House was built to represent the type of clan house built in the early 1900’s. I was lucky enough to be sitting inside the structure when a tour guide came in and told us all the story of the community house. It would have housed 30 to 50 people. (Even with us solo visitors and the tour group, the house felt spacious.) With body heat and a large central fireplace, it kept everyone warm when the cold winds blew and snow built up outside the walls. The smooth planked platform, built along the edges, were where people slept at night. The planks were removable to store objects underneath.

Raven Carving

The raven totem being carved was on display along with the tools used to craft the piece. There is no particular time limit to carving a totem pole. One feature may be added months after the last one, and some are never completely finished. Each artist also has their own time and style in carving their work of art. Some modern artist use electric devices to help speed the work, some adhere to the ancient tools of their ancestors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Did It!

“She did it,” said this totem to his mother, trying to blame his misdeed on his sister. I have no idea what this totem means but it made me think of my brother when we were growing up.

 

 

 

Saxman Clan House

Saxman Clan House is located at the First Nation Park of the same name. I was able to visit with a First Nation man who was born and raised in Saxman. As we talked an Eagle watched us from a nearby tree, as Ravens flew overhead. I had never seen a Raven in person before. Coming from Texas, I had seen many crows and thought them a large bird, but Ravens can be up to 4.4 lbs! It doesn’t sound like much but birds are all hollow bones and feathers which weigh practically nothing, so a bird at that weight is the size of an infant. They flew over the clan house as if to protect it.

Entry Totem

This entry totem would normally be placed in front of a clan house. You would enter through the opening that I am standing in front of.

 

 

 

 

Rock Oysterman Pole

The Rock Oysterman Pole is a memorial pole that tells the story of a young man who lost his life. He was fishing for octopus when his hand was enclosed by a giant oyster and he could not free himself. The incoming tide sealed his fate. This was the only totem I saw where the human was represented independently of the actual totem pole.

My Favorite Totem

My interpretation of my favorite totem is that there are three friends who, joined together, can face any trial or tribulation life throws their way. Detail in artistry abounds in both parks I went to.

 

 

 

Creepy Cruise Ship

Viewing totem poles helped balance the creepiness of the giant cruise ship that towered above the town.

Walking Tour, Creek Street

I took a walking tour that took me to Creek Street where brothels were built one right after another. For over fifty years, from 1900 to 1953, these establishments lined both sides of the Ketchikan creek.

Dolly’s House is a museum now. I didn’t pay to go inside, but I found this sign humorous.

 

 

 

Since I camped outside the city limits, finding a parking space could be tricky. I found that getting to town before all the stores opened was a surefire way of finding a parking spot. There’s plenty to see before “opening hours’ when your wallet starts jumping around in excitement to get out and spread some money around. 

Walking Tour, Salmon Run

Walking along the tour brings you to a very old salmon run that is now bordered by city buildings. People still catch fish here and a salmon gate has been built.

 

Walking tours or hikes will take you to beautiful places in Ketchikan.

 

 

 

 

Signal Creek Campground

By the end of the day my Subaru found its way back to Signal Creek Campground. It was only $5.00 a night because it was so primitive. The toilets were little more than rustic outhouses, and you have to pump your own water. Nestled within the Tongass National Forest the scenery was stunning.

 

It felt a bit magical walking from the campground to Ward Lake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t notice the visually impairment of the shadow in this shot but there is a lovely wooden bridge over Ward Creek in the distance. You can see it better if you click on it.

If you do make it to Ketchikan and camp in any of the campgrounds, I would highly recommend getting there during the daylight hours. Navigating at night is CREEPY! It’s the darkest place I’ve ever been to!

From Ketchikan, I caught the ferry to Prince Rupert, BC, Canada. I left a piece of my heart in Alaska, but I know the Ravens will take good care of it.

Thus ends my “Feisty Old Woman Goes North To Alaska” adventure.

Here’s the cost breakdown I promised at the beginning of this series;

Gasoline $ 932.62
Food (I like to eat out.)    954.20
Lodging, Campsite, RV Parking 1,205.64
Souvenirs    402.12
Cash    600.00
Park Fees    110.00
 Total   $4,205.58

 


Feisty Old Woman, Inside Passage Route

Inside Passage Route, Alaska Marine Highway

The Inside Passage Route, (known as the Alaska Marine Highway) was the third route I used for my “Feisty Old Woman goes North to Alaska from Texas” adventure  This is what most people think of when traveling to Alaska is mentioned. When I expressed my desire to drive to Alaska someone remarked, “You can’t drive to Alaska!” Please do not tell the Canadians. http://www.northtoalaska.com/Maps-and-Routes/Inside-Passage-Route.aspx

Hello, Highway Here I Come

Getting back on the Highway and driving to Haines, Alaska made more sense to my budget than taking a ferry from Homer. Hello, Highway here I come for another ten-hour drive back to Tok where I picked up ANOTHER rock in my windshield. I slept in my car and drove to Haines the next day. If you don’t like collecting rocks and want to take the ferry:  http://dot.alaska.gov/amhs/

Haines

Haines, Alaska is not as large a city as Homer, but the views are stunning. Haines is very close to the Glacier Bay National Park and is located on North American’s longest Fjord, the Lynn Canal (not a man-made structure but a natural inlet.) I had a full day to explore the area and made full use of my time there. At 4 o’clock my Subaru found its way to the ferry landing without much help from a very sleepy, not-at-all-feisty, but rather grumpy old woman. I was looking forward to NOT driving.

This is a photo I took from my table at a local restaurant. Because the locals view this every single day, I consider them to be pretty lucky folk.

 

Ferry

I got my windshield “tag” and parked my car in line.  Managing to snag a cup of coffee from the ferry terminal, the morning began to unfold before me. Alaska has a delightful habit of topping the last most-beautiful-thing-you’ve-ever-seen with something even more stunning. I’d never seen a Fjord before. The Alaska Marine Highway ferry system takes you through an enchanted land filled with wonder and magic.

If you have a set schedule then it is recommended that you make a reservation on a ferry. I had no reservations for anything too far in advance. I do have a good phone service and could get online to book hotel rooms, Airbnb, or campsites, but ferry service was not a worrisome problem to me.

Marine Highway Time

Time was my friend. If that ferry sliding south through the icy waters of the Alaska Marine Highway was full, I could stay an extra day and take the next one. What? You say the next ferry doesn’t leave for another three days. No worries. I will just sleep in my car, hike around and experience the “beingness” of a Fjord.

In the photo on the right you can see Haines nestled in the palm of mountains, glaciers and a Fjord.

The Ferry To Juneau

The four-hour ferry ride to Juneau, the capital city of Alaska, was incredible. Porpoises raced alongside us and distant whales sprayed plumes of water high into the air. The views of Alaska’s many glaciers were brought closer with the binoculars I carried with me, but my phone just didn’t have the zoom power it needed for great shots. Once we landed in Juneau-Auke Bay Ferry port I immediately went inside the terminal building and got my ticket to Ketchikan Ferry Terminal-Ketchikan and Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal-Prince Rupert British Columbia. I had three full days to spend in Juneau.

Alaska Hotel & Bar

Treating my feisty self to a room at the historic Alaska Hotel & Bar was money well spent. Sleeping in my car for most of the trip helped my budget stretch for an occasional hotel stay.  Here is a blurb straight from their website:

“The Alaskan Hotel is the best-preserved and oldest operating hotel in Southeast Alaska. The Alaskan Hotel was built in 1913 by four men in six months time. The hotel was built in the late Victorian “Queen Anne” style, as can be seen by the transom windows and string course out front. The Alaskan is by far the most economical and centrally-located hotel in Juneau. Our historic turn-of-the-century bar is a local center of activity all year round. The Alaskan Hotel is the winner of the local paper’s reader’s choice award for “Best Live Music”. ” http://www.thealaskanhotel.com/

If you stand in the lobby of the Alaskan Hotel, or in a quiet hallway, you can hear ghostly echoes of men’s spurs as they jingle their way to their rooms. After a long day of mining, or fishing, a soft bed with clean sheets captured their weary bones for much- needed rest.

The Red Dog Saloon

Once you park your car 47 miles up the mountain, walk back to the hotel, check-in, and freshen-up, you are ready to hit the town. The Red Dog Saloon is a “must see” in Juneau, Alaska and I readily agree with that recommendation. Here is a blurb directly from their website:

“Originating during the heyday of Juneau’s glorious mining era, this world famous saloon has provided hospitality and fellowship to weary travelers and local patrons alike. Early day proprietors, Earl and Thelma (Pederson) Forsythe provided dancing and long time entertainer “Ragtime Hattie” played the piano in her white gloves and silver dollar halter top. During territorial days, during his tenure of over twenty years as owner, Gordie Kanouse would meet tour boats with his mule that wore a sign saying ‘follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon’.” http://test.reddogsaloon.com/about-us/

The best thing is not the live music, which is great, or the fun decorations hanging from every square inch of space, but the food is REALLY good.

First Nation, Native People

The Canadians call the indigenous peoples that lived there before ships arrived from England, “First Nation People”. I like this term. It recognizes that they were here “first”. We don’t use that wordage here in the USA. I am terribly guilty of still using the term from my childhood, “Native America Indians” which causes one of my son’s eyes to start twitching due to my lack of political correctness. I do try not to offend anyone, but breaking old habits is hard.

I learned a lot visiting the “Sealaska Heritage” museum which uses the expression “Native People” on their website, so I guess either term is acceptable. The exhibit at the time showed how much the First Nation Tlingit people suffered after the US Military shelled Angoon on Oct. 26, 1882, and destroyed their livelihood. Many people starved to death. When the video ended there were tears in my eyes and I wondered, once again, if the world would ever know peace.

There’s no guarantee that they will still have the same exhibit when you go, but the Sealaska Heritage is a great place to visit no matter what’s on exhibit. http://www.sealaskaheritage.org/

Tourist Destinations

Taking one of the walking tours I learned much about the city and enjoyed learning about the early Russian connections.

There weren’t Russians living in Juneau at the time this church was built, however, there were many local Tlingit people who had relatives in nearby Sitka. Those relations had been baptized during the Russian period (1741-1867) and were allowed to worship in their own language. United States government restrictions advised other churches to avoid preaching in any other language besides English. So the Tlingit people of Juneau were drawn to the Russian Orthodox faith and built their own church.

I have yet to find a church where I feel completely “at home” but I do enjoy learning and visiting churches. If you would like to know more about this faith community here ya go: https://stnicholasjuneau.org/

Auke Bay

The ferry left for Ketchikan at 4 am but you could board soon after midnight. Instead of paying for another night at the hotel, I drove to Auke Bay and spent some time walking around visiting very old trees that remembered when the Paleoindian people walked from Beringia into what is now Alaska, and on toward more southern points in the Americas.

Auke Bay makes for a lovely walk.

Auke Bay Village

I drove back into Auke Bay Village and hung out in a little bar that had great food, free internet, and men almost as old as trees. They remembered the time when the ferry system was just a few men with old boats. The history of the Alaska Marine Highway can be read here: http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/history.shtml

Juneau has many wonderful tourist destinations, and you will surely find something to add to your “must see” list when visiting Juneau.


Feisty Old Woman, Homer, Alaska

Old Body, Feisty Attitude

I may be a feisty old woman, but I get to choose which of those adjectives applies to any given life situation. Mornings are when the “old” shows up, and makes its voice heard loud and clear, so leaving Denali was a slow careful process.  A 64 year old body with osteoarthritis needs encouragement just to get up and moving. Once my feisty attitude overcomes my chronological age, the daily adventure can begin. Driving South on Alaska Highway-1 the scenery did not disappoint.

Airbnb, Hostels, Servas

Myra’s bed and breakfast (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/6661014) was not expecting me until the next afternoon, so I had plenty of time enjoying the 458 miles of scenery between Denali National Park and Homer. If you like to engage with locals and get inside tips on places to go and things to see, then staying at Airbnb’s, hostels, or with Servas host is a good way to travel. You can usually book online the day before. Usually just searching for hostels in where-ever-you-are-going-to-be will get results. Here’s the Airbnb website: https://www.airbnb.com/ and here’s the Servas website: https://www.servas.org/ which I was a member of for years.

RV Parks in Alaska

As mentioned in the first three installments of this series, RV Parks are very easy to find. Alaska was no exception. I stopped in Sterling at an RV Park located right off the highway. It had a wonderful private shower with very hot water. Laundry facilities were located in the same building. People have been traveling since the dawn of time. There will always be someplace that offers a room, a meal, a drink, and, if you’re lucky, a travelers story to laugh at, or learn something from.

Homer Alaska

Arriving in Homer before check-in time gave me the opportunity to drive around a bit. This city, located on the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula is easy to navigate. Homer has had its ups-and-downs since the 1890’s when coal was discovered, but it holds steady now at a little over 5,000 people. Homer Pennock, a gold-mining promoter, tried to make gold mining profitable. The town took his name, but never did profit from gold mining.

Homer Tourist Center

The Homer Tourist Center is well staffed with friendly and knowledgeable folks. I picked up a guide and got directions to St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church. You can download the guide here…www.visithomer.org.

Travelers can find a plethora of information at the Tourist Center on restaurants, bars, shopping, art museums and plenty of outdoor activities. Here’s a photo of a definite eye catching shop in the central part of town:

St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church

The service focused on loving and respecting the LGBT community, which is something I wholeheartedly agree with. There are approximately 16 different churches to provide spiritual sustenance for many different denominations, or you could just walk outside and worship Mother Nature.

 

 

The People in Homer, whether or not they are sitting in church, have a wonderful view of five different glaciers, numerous bays, coves and Lagoons. I really enjoyed walking along Kachemak Bay and looking at drift wood.

Large rocks have been left on the beach by Wizards that once roamed the land. Yes, it’s true. Alaska is filled with magic.

 Whales

Twice I paid for a “Whale Watching” trip. Once when I was in Friday Harbor, Washington and once when I was visiting my son when he lived in Los Angeles. I did not see whales. When I was in Homer, Alaska not only did I see whales, but I went Salmon fishing, saw Puffins sporting their bright orange feet and beak, giggled at Otters frolicking in the ice cold water, and was lucky enough to be there for a local parade. Here’s my video of finally getting to see a whale…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4baz3f5qLU&feature=youtu.be

If you are planning on a trip to Alaska, I would strongly suggest a visit to Homer. If you’ve downloaded the Visitors guide, you will have several pages listing resources for your convenience.

GO!… BE FEISTY!…HAVE FUN!


Feisty Old Woman, Denali National Park, Alaska

Driving to Denali National Park

Driving from Whitehorse to Denali National Park via Fairbanks is over 12 hours. That’s longer than this Feisty Gramma wants to drive in one day. From Whitehorse to the U.S Customs and Border Protection-Alcan Port of Entry it’s a little over 5 hours. Stopping at Destruction Bay, and several other breathtaking views, it’s rewarding to experience the “beingness” of nature, or swat gnats, whichever floats your boat.

Trying to keep my eyelids  open long enough to reach Tok was impossible even though it was only 25 more miles.  As a result Northway Junction  was where I camped.  Intending to get a new windshield in Fairbanks the highway saw my car before the sun did, but we both know how that turned out.

I made it to Denali National Park before the Visitor Center closed.

If you know exactly when you are going to be at the park, I would recommend making reservations. However, if you want to meander around Canada like I did, and have NO IDEA when you are going to be anywhere, then you will have to camp at one of the other campsites near to the park. Had my budget been larger, I would have stayed at one of the wonderful hotels that cost around $200.00 a night. Having a limited budget, my trusty Zuzu-baru found its way to the “Grizzly Bear” RV Campground.

This campground also had a hotel, but I was perfectly happy sleeping in my car. My site was a short walking distance from the store/bathroom/laundry/showers and I was in bad need of a shower!

Getting Coin Clean

Putting my clean clothes and toiletries in a small bag, I went to the showers, undressed and realized the shower was coin operated. I put my dirty clothes back on my smelly body and went back to the car.

No American coins.

“Well, sheeeyut,” as they say in East Texas.

I walked to the store and got some coins and then made my way back to the shower hoping one would still be available.  I felt very foolish to be so underprepared. In my defense, I must say, that I hadn’t had to pay for a shower in a long time. From that point on I kept coins with me at all times.

All clean and smelling good, I walked across the street, sat in the lobby of the expensive hotel and used their internet. Ah, the tricks of the road.

Bear Warning!

The next day I went back to Denali National Park. Buying my ticket at the Denali Park Store for the shuttle bus out to Eielson Visitor Center, I noticed a posted BEAR WARNING! Apparently, two hikers did the very thing all of us are warned NOT to do. They ran when they saw a bear. The bear chased after them. One of the hikers threw his daypack at the bear, which promptly stopped and ate the contents.

After researching online about bears, hiking, safety and how not to be stupid, my backpack was fitted with bells. I had two stick flair pom-poms sticking out of the pack visible enough to stop traffic on LBJ Freeway in Dallas. I would either scare the shit out of a bear or irritate him enough to chase me with murderous intent. After reading the bear warning, I decided, for safety sake, to just hike along the roads.

Right.

The bears use the roads too.

This photo was downloaded from the Denali National Park website (listed below.)

 

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

In Alaska the saying goes like this, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, except a bear, a bear will kill you.”

The truth is, the whole time I was in Denali I only saw a bear once. She had her cubs with her and, YES, they were walking through heavy foliage growing alongside a ROAD. We all pulled our cars over and stopped with cameras ready. I never did get a good photo, but I did see the mom and both her cubs. It was incredible.

No matter how feisty this old woman is, I am not brave enough to hike solo for long distances with Snickers-craving-hungry bears roaming around. My hiking was limited to popular trails where other hikers were present.

Denali National Park Shuttle Bus

The shuttle bus out to Eielson Visitor Center gave plenty opportunities for that. It was only $34.00 and the ride was truly breathtaking.

Here is the non-narrated Shuttle Bus schedule from the website.

Destination/Service Adult (16 and older) Children (15 and under)
Toklat River (Mile 53) $26.50 free
Eielson Visitor Center (Mile 66) $34.00 free
Wonder Lake (Mile 85) $46.75 free
Kantishna (Mile 92) $51.00 free
Camper Bus (Variable) $34.00 free

 

If you want more information about the different tours, here’s the Denali website that’s chocked full of helpful information. Denali National Park…https://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm

The Shuttle Bus driver stops at the most stunning vistas and gives all the riders a chance to get out, take pictures and stretch their legs. Below is a picture I took of the road in the distance. You can see it cutting across the hill on the right side of the photo. The road is very narrow. There are some parts that are quite scary fun.

Eielson Visitor Center

On the trip to the Eielson Visitor Center, we saw bears in the distance, Dall’s sheep close enough to actually see the horns, red squirrels, and a herd of Caribou.  The landscape was stunning. Below is a picture of one of the Braided glacier rivers.

View of Denali Mountain Peak-NOT

There is one stop the bus driver makes where all your hopes are stoked. “This is a great place to see the top of Denali,” the driver tells you.

We sprung out of the vehicle and glared into the distance only to learn that a mere 10% of visitors are lucky enough to see the top of the mountain. The rest of us poor suckers have to make do with imagining what the elusive peak looks like. At the visitors center, when you stand in front of the large “viewing window” you notice two lines painted on the glass. These lines show where the mountain peak would be if you weren’t one of the 90%. Of course, you can always hire a plane to fly you through the clouds. If you can afford that I will gladly let you pay for my next trip and blog it all down for you! I’m very generous like that.

Great.

Why did I not found out this little tidbit of information before I drove 4,000 miles?

Honestly, I would have made the drive anyway. The scenery was magnificent.

The photo below of could be Mount Foraker. Yours truly forgot to note the name after taking the picture.

Lots of HIKING!

Once you’ve accepted that you’re in the common can’t-see-the-mountain-peak tribe of people, you can go for a hike originating right there at the visitor center. There were so many people there, that I felt safe from any bear attack.

Don’t worry about hiking so long you miss your bus because any passenger on the shuttle buses can get off at any point.  From the Denali website:

“If you get off your initial bus, you can flag down any other non-narrated bus going in your desired direction – i.e., farther into the park, or back towards the entrance. Re-boarding is on a seat-available basis, so you may wait anywhere from five minutes to an hour or more for a bus with ample seating. You’ll recognize them at a distance, as non-narrated buses are green, whereas narrated tour buses are tan.”    

At first I was still a little bit disappointed that Denali had hidden its face behind the clouds, but there was so much to enjoy in the park that my displeasure was quickly erased.

Denali National Park Sled Dogs and Museum

The next day I went to visit the Sled Dogs. Animals are as curative as nature, in my humble opinion.

I visited all the dogs and the sled museum. Watching the Rangers attach the dogs to a sled was fascinating. They took a quick circle around the area culminating in front of bleachers where really tall people got in the way of my picture taking efforts! This is when all good bloggers take advantage of Wikipedia. It’s such a wonderful site. I always contribute whenever they have their yearly drive.

Here’s the info about the photo; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACorrie_Mile_9_Landscape_-_Jacob_W._Frank_(8636566476).jpg

Here’s another one of my own photos taken from one of the many stops the bus takes.

 

 

I enjoyed every minute of my stay at Denali National Park.


Feisty Old Woman Goes North To Alaska, Part 2

North To Alaska – Gold Rush Route

This feisty old woman picked up the “Gold Rush Route” in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada by taking Interstate Highway 16 North. Since 1896 fortune seekers flocked west to try their luck at panning for gold during the Klondike Gold Rush. This route was put to good use. As you zip north in your trusty vehicle towards Yukon Territory try to imagine traveling along the same route in a covered wagon, or on horseback. If you had a well-conditioned horse and treated it kindly, you would have been able to travel 30 to 40 miles a day. It would take you over a month to get from Prince George to Whitehorse. I took four days. Two days were spent in Topley at a very cute, very cheap little motel. Those days were needed to remind my body that it was, in fact, a human not a machine and it is not normal to move forward at high speed every day even if you are Feisty Old Woman.

Safe Driving

If you are a novice at long distance traveling and you want to stay safe, then I will give you a word of warning: If you get out of your car and feel like you are still moving forward and having slight dizziness, then it’s time for a break. Vertigo or dizziness is a serious condition and will impair your judgment while driving.  I am fortunate that a break every four hours is sufficient for me to get back on the road on a daily basis, but after so many days, my body needs to STOP MOVING.

Fortunately the ‘Gold Rush Route” offers wild and wondrous landscapes to enjoy. Here’s the link again…http://www.northtoalaska.com/Maps-and-Routes/Gold-Rush-Route.aspx  The website has a map or you can read all the wonderful side trips available. I don’t put a great deal of detail about where I stopped, stayed or played because your trip should be YOURS!

Experiencing Beingness

I do make recommendations, however. On my drive from Whitehorse to Fairbanks I stopped here:

Kluane Lake, Destruction Bay, Yukon, Canada from Wikipedia because my picture sucked: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kluane_Lake

There are so many things to do and see on the Gold Rush Route that you might forget one of the most wonderful things about traveling, and that is experiencing the “beingness” of a place.

 

Stop moving.

Stop doing.

Sit down.

Be still.

Close your eyes.

Breathe deeply.

Sharpen your sense of hearing and smell.

I can hear a Diamondback rattler sliding across the ground from 6 feet away, and a lizard scratching its way across a boulder. I’m not trying to brag, but I’ve just been doing this a long time. We deaden our senses trying to dull the effects of city noise, pollution and general craziness of busy living. Get out of the city! Nature is calling your name.

Ecotherapy is healing. If you doubt this Old Woman with Spidey senses then just Google it and you will doubt me no longer. The more we learn about the natural world the more “present” we can be in our daily lives.

We become more aware.

We are awake.

But I digress. Where was I? Ahhh, yes, my Zuzu-baru was driving toward Whitehorse along the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy.

Have Your Own Adventure

I’m not one to tell you exactly where to go and what you should see and do. This website was created to inspire people to get out and have their OWN adventures. That’s why I put so many links in my posts for you to get an idea of what’s available. Only you know what you like and dislike. I will say that I don’t think you can choose badly when it comes to driving up to Alaska! It’s beautiful country everywhere you look.

 

After being on the road for several hours, the little town of Iskut, BC offered me a place to rest my tired not-so-feisty bones. The road twisted downhill through tall trees followed by a very barky dog. I had no idea the Hotel and RV Park was located on Kluachon Lake. For 20 dollars I had a view of paradise.

Car Maintenance

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon and former gold-rush town. I treated myself to a hotel while staying there. This was the place where a great discovery was made! Ninety percent of Canada’s bug population was trapped on the air filter of my car. Some of those dead critters were large enough to audition for the next “Men in Black” movie except for, you know, they were all dead.

Car maintenance is something you do not want to neglect while on the road. There was never any problem getting gasoline but full-service stations were only found in the larger towns and cities. Let’s return to the topic of gasoline. ALWAYS fill up whenever you have the chance. There are gas stations placed very strategically along the Alaskan Highway. When you are just about “empty” there will be a gas station, but there will NOT be another one thirty miles down the road! ALWAYS fill up your tank whenever you get the chance.

Do I need to repeat that a third time?

No?

Okay.

When I wasn’t at the service station, the city of Whitehorse was explored. Nestled on the banks of the Yukon River, it was one of my favorite places. If you love water sports, this is the place to be. I was fortunate enough to meet several folks from all over the world who had flown to Whitehorse for the “Yukon River Quest” event. You can find out more information here: https://www.yukonriverquest.com/

Feisty Old Pioneers

Talk about FEISTY! This early Whitehorse pioneer was not only feisty, but tough, persevering, and enterprising. He went from being a wrangler for a former gunslinger (Jack Dalton) to a successful Whitehorse entrepreneur. He married a First Nation woman and together, with their children, ran a prosperous freight company.

I like that Canada uses the title, “First Nation” for the people that were there FIRST.

 

For some wonderful aerial views of Whitehorse, and more information about the Yukon, check out this website: http://www.yukoninfo.com/photo-gallery/yukon-territory/whitehorse/aerials/

Lessons On The Road

The Yukon River was easy to walk to from the car repair shop.

The Zuzu-baru was in spiffy condition by the time I left Whitehorse. Of course, it didn’t stay that way after hitting several sections of gravel roads on the Alaskan Highway.

In Fairbanks, I was advised to wait to get a new windshield because…ya know…I still had to drive back to Texas. Apparently, the route I was using to get home would also have sections of evil gravel intent on embedding itself into my windshield. We learn such wonderful lessons on the road.

Groan.

Car mechanics are full of useful information. Did you know that during the winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, you can spit and it will freeze before it hits the ground?

“Gosh, no” I replied. “I didn’t know that. I’ll have to try that sometimes (during the three days of winter we get in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.)

Do you know that women are genetically unable to spit?

See what fun things you can learn on my website!

Stay tuned for “Feisty Old Woman in Alaska.”