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Smokey Mountain National Park, Newfound Gap

Number of Visitors

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mt. McKinley, a no show (Talkeetna, AK)


We entered Denali NP Sunday (June, 24) trying to get a campsite inside the park.  We originally made reservations for July 9 for 4 days, not knowing exactly when we would be going to Denali.   So we tried to get a campsite, but it would be one day at one campsite and another in a different one.  We decided to to boondock outside of the park for the night and then decide.  We camped in a large gravel area about 5 miles north of the park along with about 15 other RVers.

Boon docking outside Denali NP-2

The next day we went to the visitor’s center, camper in tow, made arrangement to take an 8 hour Wilderness and Tundra tour the next day and we went to a dog sled tour.   Denali NP is the only NP that has  working dog sled teams that patrol the park.  These dogs are raised and bred for strength and endurance to patrol the park. Unlike dogs that are bred for speed for racing.

The next day we boarded a bus for the 8 hour, 66 mile, bus ride.  The bus driver also is a knowledgeable naturalist and speaker. Unfortunately it rained and was low hanging clouds the whole trip. 

Denali National Park (59 of 107)Denali National Park (68 of 107)Denali National Park (71 of 107)

The highlight of the trip was a great sighting of a brown bear and two cubs which just walked right in front of the bus.

The end of the day we tried to go back to the gravel campsite but they closed it.  We had to go down the road to a commercial camp site where we stayed for the next 3 days. 

We never did get to see Mt McKinley.  It is visible only about 20% of the time. 

The next day we took an ATV tour.  Ann and I took a side by side ATV.  We both really enjoyed it and saw some great views.


We took off down the road today heading for Anchorage.  We took a side trip to Talkeetna, a small town which is used by climbers (that’s you, Dustin) to climb Mt. McKinley.  We are boondocking a few mile outside Talkeetna. In the morning we will go explore the town. 

Right now I am writing this blog, Ann is busy in her iPad and I can hear the rain hitting the roof.  We have heat, good food, hot water, internet, and each other.  Life is good.

Oh yes, a cold bottle of Chardonnay doesn’t hurt.

Life is good on the Roan Road…

Sunday, June 24, 2012

We make it to Alaska (Fairbanks, AK)


We left Whitehorse Monday morning.  Traveling in and out of rain.  Good roads and bad.  Most paved and marked where the bad parts were.  Some parts gavel and muddy.  All along the highway there are many rest areas.  No one will bother you if you stop overnight.  So around 5 PM we pulled into a rest area, backed in to one corner and setup camp.  I started the generator to run the microwave so we could make a dinner we had frozen before we left.  In the morning we had breakfast and pulled out. 

We crossed the border into the Alaska, that’s back in the USA where speed is in MPH and fuel is in Gallons, what a relief!  When we crossed into the USA we got busted!!  They confiscated the Tomatoes we had.  We had to turnover the 1 and a half tomatoes  from the refrigerator.  Bummer, We could have sold them on the tomato black market and made a fortune.

Road from Watson Lake to Whitehorse (1 of 1)-2

About 12 noon we entered Tok, the first town back in USA.  There is nothing of any value to see except souvenir shops, gas stations and restaurants.  We fueled up because the fuel is cheaper in the USA and pushed on.

Whitehorse-Tok (18 of 18)Whitehorse-Tok (7 of 18)-2

Work is always being done on the road   -  If you click on the second  picture above you can see red flags beside the road.

We are now in a nice RV park in Fairbanks, relaxing and doing the tourist thing.  It is hot.  The last two days have been in the 80s.  Yesterday we took care of some errands.  Went to the supermarket,  and had the oil changed in the truck.  Here in Alaska they have Fred Meyer which is a Wal-Mart wana bee.   We were not impressed.  We also went to a Safeway supermarket, that we liked.

Yesterday was the summer solace.  There 21.5 hours of day light.  Each day after that it gets about 1 min less of day light.  So when we go to bed the sun is still shining in the window, not even below the horizon.

Below is a picture of the camper with its space age coating, better known as Alaska Mud.

Road from Watson Lake to Whitehorse (1 of 1)

There is no car of truck in Alaska that does not have bugs all over the front grill, mud on the back and sides and a cracked windshield.

Went on two tours: the Number 8 Dredge and the Riverboat Discovery.

Number 8 Dredge.

Gold Dredge 8 (2 of 46) 

You can also see part of the Alaskan Pipeline.

The dredge was used to extract gold that was not worth mining during the Gold Rush.  It cost 15 million to build and setup. That is 1920 dollars.  After blasting the top layer of dirt and rock off with high pressure water, the Dredge would come and extract the remaining gold.

The tour was very commercialized, with a lot of tour buses coming from the tour ships, but still interesting.

Gold Dredge 8 (2 of 46)

Ann and I got to pan for gold, and we found some!  This is Ann’s stash.

Gold Dredge 8 (30 of 46)

We put mine and Ann’s stash together and made a locket.

Gold Dredge 8 (35 of 46)

The real gold mine is in the gift shop.

Riverboat Discovery.

The Riverboat Discovery is run by the same people that run the Dredge 8.  Very commercialized but well done.  You are taken up the Chena River, shown a Float Plane takeoff and land. Look at all the beautiful houses along the river.  Shown how they train sled dogs, and went through an Indian village.

Riverboat Discovery SS (1 of 7)

Now these houses with a camper, boat and plane is something I could get used to.

Riverboat Discovery SS (2 of 7)Riverboat Discovery SS (3 of 7)Riverboat Discovery SS (4 of 7)

Of course, the winter is something I could not get used to.

The dog sled training. They use a ATV, without the engine, as a sled.

Riverboat Discovery SS (5 of 7)

Next stop, an Indian village.  Where you get off the boat and you can walk around.

Riverboat Discovery SS (6 of 7)Riverboat Discovery SS (7 of 7)

Tomorrow we leave for Denali and parts south.  Our reservation is for July 9, but we will see if we can get in early. 

We will be boondocking the next few days, so I am not sure when the next blog will be. Rest assured, we will be back on line.

Life is good on the Roan Road…