July 8 - We left Skagway about 8:30 AK time. It was very foggy at the summit. By the time we got to the CDN Border it was fairly clear. It turns out the border agent had played soccer in Sechelt so he knew where we were. It was a nice drive with only a bit of construction. We arrived in Haines Junction Yukon about 3 PST. The motel was lovely - Parkside Inn - it seems fairly new, everything works, Keurig, breakfast (yogurt, English muffin, eggs, milk, juice) in the fridge. We ate our Skagway leftovers for dinner! There is no darkness at night now. The sun is actually out until after 11pm.
July 9 - We left our comfortable lodging at Haines Junction just after 8. It was a beautiful day. Lovely lakes, snowy mountains, then rocky mountains. We thought the only wildlife we would see were the gophers then we saw a coyote. Then bonus! a young grizzly ran across the road!! So exciting. We bought a cinnamon bun for lunch at a little bakery in the middle of no where and arrived in Tok AK about 2:00. It was too early to check in to Young's Motel so we explored (took 10 minutes) then to a local bar for a beer. Checked in. The room is not bad but no A/C and no flow-through air. We used their fan and ours too! We went for dinner to Fast Eddy's (part of the motel). They had a very nice salad bar.
July 10 - We left Tok about 8:45 after breakfast at Fast Eddy's. Tok is a crossroads to either Anchorage or Fairbanks. It was a nice drive to Anchorage. The road was pretty good most of the way. There were a couple of spots under construction and we were led through by a pilot car. The road narrowed about 60 Km outside of Anchorage and we went through some beautiful country. Rounding a corner and you are amazed with the sight of Matanuska Glacier right there! We also saw a moose in a field and another brown animal with no tail that ran across in front of us. Along the way the Sirius Radio seemed to stop working. Anchorage is busy! Checked in to the Best Western Golden Lion about 3 pm. We ate dinner at the 36 Bistro in the hotel. We found out that this restaurant is independently owned and not part of Best Western. Dinner was awful! We both ordered ribs. Mine were a bit chewy but edible. Larry's were not at all. The waitress, who was quite nice, took them back and brought seafood fettuccini - the fettuccini was quite hard in places so Larry didn't eat much of it. Our waitress left for the day and we were stuck with the other one who was not very nice, actually bitchy and arguementive. She claimed the chef knows his ribs and that they were baby backs - NOT. Anyway since then we've put a bad review on Trip Advisor, sent an e-mail to Best Western and told the front desk all about it. They did end up comping our whole meal thank goodness.
July 11 - We went to the City Diner for an excellent breakfast. So much food we didn't need lunch. We went on a 1 hour trolley tour around town. Then we drove down to Girdwood (on the road to Seward) and saw some beautiful glaciers. We stopped at Beluga Point but there were no whales. The tide wasn't right. Turnagain Arm is at the end of Cook Inlet and has the second highest tidal bore in the world next to Saint John in New Brunswick. We didn't see that either! We went to Pubhouse Gastropod Restaurant for dinner. So good! King crab and filet. When Larry made the reservation he mentioned our 40th anniversary - they put red rose petals down the middle of the table!
July 12 - City Diner again for breakfast - blueberry pancakes! Then we drove back to Earthquake Park to see more that we did not see from the trolley. Earthquake Park is where, in 1964, an entire neighborhood slid into the ocean during last century's most powerful earthquake. There were 75 homes that fell 30 feet into the ground and were covered with mud and dirt and only 7 lives were lost. The earthquake was measured at a 9.2 on the Richter scale and lasted 4 minutes. We kept wandering and saw a moose by the airport. Today was laundry day - on site at the Best Western. This was very handy. We visited with Rene and Helene at their RV for an hour (we knew them from Pacific Border RV). We went to Benihana for dinner. Again mentioned the 40th anniversary - got free ice cream and a nice photo.
July 13 - We drove to Cantwell. Along the way there are supposed to be two good viewing sights for Denali as well as driving into the National Park. However there was no view of Denali at all because it was too smoky from forest fires. We stayed at Backwoods Lodge. It was an amazingly nice place. We had dinner at the Creekside Cafe. We're really discovering the high costs here in Alaska - add 30% on to every price for the exchange rate!
July 14 - Next stop is Fairbanks. We were fortunate to see a cow moose and two calves in a little pond just before the Denali turnoff. The mother and one of the calves swam to a new spot but the other decided he was going to walk around the pond. There was still no view of the huge mountain because of smoke. Very disappointing! We went to Pike's Landing Restaurant for lunch which is right beside our hotel. We arrived around 1:15 and checked in to the Princess Riverside Lodge. The lodge is right beside the Chena River and we had a gorgeous view of it from our room. We had a nice chat with Aaron then went to North Pole. There's a huge Christmas store there with a working Santa with a line-up of kids and some reindeer. It was a very hot day - 27 deg C. We had dinner on the deck at the hotel - a beautiful salad! We are here for three nights. Many busloads of cruise tour passengers arriving here daily.
July 15 - We discovered Pioneer Park today. It was too early for everything to be open so we decided to explore downtown. We had heard on the local news that there was a Rafting Regatta and were able to watch them going down the river. Pretty funny. By then it was time to go back to Pioneer Park. Very interesting. Most of the stuff is free. The little old train cost $1 each (seniors rate) and you go around the park twice. There's a small Gold Rush Town which features a lot of very old buildings moved from other areas of the city. There's also a native museum. Back at the hotel, Maureen walked the trails around the grounds. They have an amazing Chef's Garden. Dinner was back at Pioneer Park - Alaska Salmon Bake. It is an All You Can Eat BBQ salmon, prime rib and battered ling cod, salads, dessert. $34.95. We sat first with two couples from New York State. We lost those seats when we went to get dessert so we then sat with a couple from San Diego. She's a travel agent - we'll keep in touch and perhaps see them when we come back from our cruise in April 2019!
July 16 - We had breakfast at the hotel and checked out just before 11. We didn't have a very long drive so we took our time. We arrived in Tok about 2:15. Nothing's changed except a couple of puddles. We stopped at the Burnt Paw gift shop where they had a couple of sled dog puppies. No wildlife on the drive here. A word about the roads so far. Yukon were the worst and even those weren't too bad. The Alaska ones were very good. Even though signs sometimes said rough road, they all seemed to be fixed. The road west of Tok was long and straight, reminded us of Saskatchewan except there are trees. Our Alaska loop is complete!
July 17 - We left Tok about 8:30. We made a brief stop in Chicken to get some cinnamon buns - they are as big as a small roast. The road was mostly pavement to Chicken where there was major construction at Chicken requiring a pilot car. The road was packed gravel until 12 miles before border then beautiful pavement to the border. The road was gravel again (not so packed) most of the rest of the way to the ferry. The ferry is free and is about 5 minutes. It can take about 10 cars but there are lots of RVs on the road so less than that. We saw a black bear run across the road just before the ferry. The ferry crosses the Yukon River which is very fast moving. This ferry operates in the summer and in the winter there is an ice bridge. The town's kinda cute but there are a ton of people, some driving but mostly bus loads of cruise tour passengers. There is only one paved road in town - that's the highway. We are here for 3 nights at the Westmark Inn. The Sirius Radio started working again too! There was a little thunder and lightning in the afternoon. We went to Klondike Kate's for dinner.
July 18 - We walked/scooted around several historic sites. It was a very hot day. We drove up beside Bonanza Creek to Dredge #4 and it rained so hard we had to turn back and the car was caked in mud when we got back. Some more thunder and lightning as well! We had Chinese for dinner - there was so much we have enough for another meal. We went to Gertie's Dance Hall after dinner for a show. It was only a 1/2 hour but good music and high energy.
July 19 - We started at the Info Centre first because we heard that with our Canada 150 Parks Pass we could get two Golden Tickets which were good for the tour at Dredge #4 (a $20 each value). We got the tickets and headed on up. A very good tour of almost an hour. Lots of stairs so Larry couldn't do a lot of it. Dredge #4 is a wooden-hulled bucket line sluice dredge that mined placer gold on the Yukon River from 1913 until 1959. It is now located along Bonanza Creek Road 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) south of the Klondike Highway near Dawson City, where it is preserved as one of the National Historic Sites of Canada. It is the largest wooden-hulled dredge in North America.
With its 72 large buckets, the dredge excavated gravel at the rate of 22 buckets per minute, processing 18,000 cubic yards of material per day. It was in use from late April or early May until late November each season, and sometimes throughout winter. During its operational lifetime, it captured nine tons of gold. It left behind miles of tailings (piles of rock and gravel) that may or may not still have chunks of gold in them. We then drove up Dome Road. We watched some para-gliders coming down as we were going up. It's a climb up to 2911 feet with an amazing 360 deg view at the top of the Yukon River, Bonanza Creek and the valley leading to Whitehorse. The Yukon River is 3190 Km (1980 mi) long, the longest in Alaska/Yukon. We then washed the car - it was filthy from the Top of the World Highway trip and the rain yesterday. Maureen tried to do the walk along the river but it was just too hot. There's another big black cloud building up in the distance. We had dinner at the hotel tonight. We went to the Downtown Hotel where they have the "Sour Toe Drink" which is a shot with a human toe in the glass. Maureen was going to do a shot but they only serve the Sour Toe between 9 and 11 pm and we were there at 8. Someone from Quebec had stolen the human toe about a month ago but with publicity on social media they returned it. Once the toe touches your lips and your drink is done they dry it and roll it in salt. They never rinse it as it is in 40 proof alcohol or greater.
July 20 - We got away from Dawson City by 8:30 - loaded the car right out front in between buses. It was a long drive. We arrived in Whitehorse about 3:00. Checked in then went and got another car wash. We had leftovers in the room tonight!
July 21 - Today was laundry day. We had to go down to the Best Western Gold Rush Hotel to do it. During the tour of Dredge #4 our guide had talked about the Beringia Museum in Whitehorse so we went there. It was very interesting. It presented life 26,000 years ago as the Ice Age receded. Then we went through the SS Klondike, which is a National Historic Site - free with Canada 150 pass. We had an excellent dinner at Klondike Rib & Salmon with Duane (he used to play ball with Kelly), Jennifer and their two lovely little girls. It is housed in the oldest buildings in Whitehorse. It opens at 4 and has a constant lineup til it closes. We got a huge piece of bread pudding for lunch the next day.
July 22 - We had the early bird breakfast at the hotel just after 8. We arrived in Watson Lake about 1:15. We made really good time. No food stops, a couple of bathroom breaks and of course, no wildlife. It was a pretty drive with lots of beautiful rivers and lakes. The mountains have gotten big again but no snow. We were too early to check in so wandered about. Watson Lake is very little - taken up mostly by the Signpost Forest - 83,000 signs as of 2016. It's quite amazing. We didn't find Sechelt but we did find a couple of southern BC places as well as Estevan, SK. We then went to the Northern Lights Centre. We ate part of our bread pudding - it really needs to be heated - then went in for 2:00 show. It's a planetarium and there were two shows - Dynamic Earth and Aurora Lights of Wonder. By then it was ok to check in. What a lovely little motel - A Nice Motel - it definitely is. Of course no air conditioning and it quite warm again today. No matter - there is a fan in the room and we have ours. We're prepared! We had a very good dinner at Kathy's Kitchen just down the road. Larry had a halibut burger mixed with spinach and feta. Maureen had a buffalo bacon cheese burger and the little garden salad was great. Our last night in the Yukon!