Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Alaska-Canada trip -- Tundra Wilderness Tour at Denali Nat'l Park

(This entry is the last of my posts about our Alaska-Canada trip. To start reading from the beginning of our journey, go HERE" and click "Newer Entry" at the end of each post. There are 15 entries, mostly photos with a little commentary)

Early in the morning we boarded a bus for the all day trip up into the park. Private vehicles are not allowed past a certain point, to keep down the impact of traffic on the road and on the wildlife. One must make reservations far ahead for the bus tour and for hiking and backpacking.

Husband talking to our driver/guideBeginning our Denali Wilderness bus tour

There are a few rest stops along the way, and the bus driver stopped frequently for us to admire the scenery, observe wildlife, and take pictures. Also, McKinley Chalet Resort and Holland America provided us with a box lunch of sandwich, fruit, and chips, along with all the bottled water we wanted. Rest stop (much needed!)

A braided river. The river bed is larger than the actual stream of water, and its course varies according to many changing factors.

Braided riverbed with mountains

I was surprised to see a familiar looking sea bird, so far from home. This one is apparently a Mew Gull. (Click on the picture and follow the link to find out more about them.)

I believe this is a Mew Gull

Snow on the mountains!

Another shot out the window

They look so close!

Sunlight and shadows

A Dall ewe, not at all concerned about the tour bus


A small flock (band) of Dall sheep

Dall sheep, a flock of ewes

Dall ram

Dall ram, grazing

The sheep were shedding their winter coats in May and June. Being wild, they are never shorn.

My husband and I

Tommy and Nancy at Denali Park, Alaska

Look over there! A bear!

Another shot of grizzly


Alaska's state bird, the ptarmigan

Alaska's state bird, the ptarmigan

Emergency photo stop!

Emergency Photo op!

The clouds parted and the sun came out to shine on North America's highest peak, Denali, the Tall One. Also known as Mt. McKinley. What an exciting moment! The highlight of our trip!

Denali, another viewDenali, The High One!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Alaska-Canada trip -- Fairbanks to McKinley Chalet Resort

We quickly left our luggage in our room at the Fairbanks Westmark, then hurried down to meet our bus for another Alaska Salmon Bake!

Alaska Salmon BakeAlaska Salmon Bake - Outside diningAlaska Salmon Bake - Dining room (away from mosquitoes)

Outside or inside dining. We opted for inside, since the mosquitoes were hungry outside!

Cooking over an open fire

Alaska Salmon Bake - What it's all about!

The grounds were decorated with colorful wooden signs and with antique farming and mining equipment.

Alaska Salmon Bake - Prime rib also available Alaska Salmon Bake - signpostAlaska Salmon BakeAlaska Salmon Bake"Ride salmon at own risk"Alaska Salmon Bake - Bear with salmon

After a delicious meal of salmon or prime rib, baked beans, cole slaw, and blueberry cake, we walked around admiring the antiques and signs, then made our way to the Palace Theater for a very entertaining and amusing show.

Palace Theater RevuePalace Theater Revue - piano player/narrator

It consisted of several skits and songs with the same four actors and a piano player/narrator, which told the story of Fairbank's beginnings in an interesting and amusing way. Personally, I enjoyed this show much more than I did Gertie's in Dawson City, and I told them so. :-)

Next morning, we boarded the train for Denali National Park, the McKinley Explorer which is owned by Holland America and uses the Alaska Railroad track and engines. (Holland America also owns Westmark Inns and the tour coaches (buses).

Aboard the McKinley Explorer and Alaska Railroad

This is our group of eight, along with the larger group of 44.

Aboard the McKinley Explorer and Alaska Railroad

passing University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Aboard the McKinley Explorer and Alaska RailroadAboard the McKinley Explorer and Alaska Railroad

Homes for humans and for beavers

McKinley Chalet ResortMcKinley Chalet Resort

We enjoyed two nights in a two-room suite at McKinley Chalet Resort. Very cozy and comfy!

McKinley Chalet ResortMcKinley Chalet Resort

The lobby of McKinley Chalet Resort, where we gathered to wait for our buses. Also in the same building are giftshops and restaurants.

The next morning we enjoyed a portion of the well-marked walking trail, in a light drizzly rain.

Nature trailNature trail - pretty white flowerNature trailNature trail - here comes the train!

The scenery was gorgeous even though the weather was wet

Mountains and cloudsBlack spruce up closeMountains on a gray day

I think these shots were on the bus to the Park's Visitor's Center.

Next entry I will tell about our Denali Tundra Wilderness tour up in the national park.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Alaska-Canada trip -- from Delta Junction to Fairbanks

Where have I been since August 4??? Well, we took a trip to visit children and grandchildren, and been busy around the house, spending time with friends, helping people, celebrating our anniversary -- just one thing and another, and pretty soon it's been more than two weeks! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The bus stopped at a scenic overlook, and everyone got out

Getting a good shot!

Excitement! A moose down there in the valley! Moose!

This was the best I could do; my auto-focus camera insisted on focusing on the nearby leaves, completely failing to notice that there was a MOOSE down there! Silly camera!

Here it is cropped: Moose!

We also saw a pretty and fragrant wild rose (sorry, you can't smell it on my blog!) Wild roses

Summer in Alaska means road construction. They can't do it in winter when everything's frozen and snow-covered.

Summer in Alaska

We passed, but didn't stop in, North Pole, Alaska (which is not actually at the north pole). Remember, you can click on any photo and see it larger on Flickr.

Giant Santa Santa Claus House First Baptist Church St. Nicholas Catholic Church

My friend attended First Baptist Church when she lived and taught school in North Pole, and of course this must be where St. Nicholas Catholic Church is located!

Shortly before arriving in Fairbanks, we enjoyed a big lunch at Steamboat Landing, then boarded the Discovery Riverboat for an interesting trip on the Chena River.

Riverboat Discovery

The crew waved us off and welcomed us back warmly

Crew at Steamboat Landing waving to us on the Riverboat Discovery Steamboat LandingAirplane in driveway, not uncommon in Alaska!Back on the riverboat - children waving at the riverboat passengersLog home

We saw a presentation and exhibit of sled dogs at the Susan Butcher Trailbreaker Kennels, with her husband Dave Monson

Susan Butcher Trailbreaker Kennels, dogs ready to pull tractor (summer training)

Log cabin with cache on stilts to keep food safe from bears, and sled dog houses

Musher's cabin, with sled dog houses and cache

We docked at the Native American center, where we could see how the native people lived long ago, before Europeans came to Alaska. Young people from the tribe lectured and demonstrated how furs were used, how food was stored, how fish and game were hunted, etc.

Young Native American man greeting us Fish wheel, for catching and trapping fish More reindeerFoliage covered shelter and hide covered shelterModeling the beautiful fur parka Back of fur parka

Arriving in Fairbanks, we met traffic for the first time in ages!

What's this? Traffic, what's traffic?! (Fairbanks, Alaska)

The Westmark Inn, Fairbanks, a very nice hotel

Westmark Inn, Fairbanks, Alaska