FINALE and COMMENTS
Click for OUR MAP
07/22/07 - We arrived at Camp Diede (Daughter Helen's side yard) to spend a couple days with our Grandson Adam. The trip over HWY 80 from Reno to about Auburn was over the WORST ROAD we encountered on the entire trip. The ALCAN was nothing compared to the roughness of this stretch of highway. AND they are still working on it in places. Full employment for Caltrans.
The trip was fantastic. Enjoyed it emmensley. The decision to drive worked out well. We went with no concrete plan other than to plan everything the night before. The only reservations we made were a day in advance for Fairbanks and 2 hours before for Denali. We never had to go to another park because they were full. Found fuel and food whenever we needed it with no problems. Mastering the Canadian language was not difficult EEH! Found the people to be quite friendly and helpful across the board. The Canadian part of the trip was as good as Alaska with just as many wildlife sightings.
The driving was a pleasure. The roads are no where near as bad as I had heard. Yes, the Cassiar had several miles of gravel and some construction. The Alcan was, as usual under repair and had miles of gravel. The frost heaves were well marked with little flags (and sometimes skid marks) and really presented no problem. The food was quite expensive even in the supermarkets, especially fruit and meats.
We we fortunate to see Mt McKinley fully exposed as only 2% of the visitors are able to do. Denali was a partial disappointment as there are few animals to be seen. The official count is 92 wolves about 350 Grizzles and 3000 moose and caribou. 6 million acres. Not many and not easily seen from the roads. Did find quite a few black bears, but mainly in Canada.
The gift shops (Alaska biggest business) were full of mainly 'Made in China' stuff. They also had more stuffed bears than appear to exist in the rest of the state alive. Maybe that's why we saw only one in Denali.
The whole north western area is full of trees and mountains. Plenty of lakes, rivers and waterfalls as well as the rain to keep the tree growing and green.
I am glad we drove instead of doing a cruise. We got to see and experience so much more. I am sure the cruise ship had better food than we found, but being turned loose in a city for a few hours or a day and then back on board would have lessened the pleasure. Guess I am an independent explorer at heart. Next time I will DRIVE to the arctic circle instead of a bus tour. Whoever says the road is terrible needs to try Hwy 80 from Reno to Auburn!
So, back home and back to work around the house. Also I now need to put together a digital photo album and a DVD of the trip. I think I shot 3-4 thousand pictures and it will be a monumental task to archive and catalog them. We are already making plans for our next adventure and it will probably be longer and even more fun.
Click the Camera for Pictures