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25 March 2015

Yukon and Alaska Bound Part 39. Back in Dawson City, Yukon


Dawson City, Yukon



Remember the Golden Rule.... Whoever has the Gold makes the rules.


In Dawson City's goldfields, about 100 families are still placier mining for gold. Gold mining is a dirty job. Old machines are for ever breaking down, and spare parts are hard to get. Time is of the essence, when the creeks freeze, the gold washing is done for the year.


Placier gold mining is messing up the whole landscape around Dawson. Gravel trailings look like lying elephants along the valley bottoms, but no harsh chemicals are used for this method of mining, not like in hardrock gold- and silver mining. 

Goldbottom original store
Goldbottom original store
Goldminer's outfit
Goldminer's outfit

The citizens of Dawson voted to keep the tailings exposed, looking like gravel pits, rather than to remedy by adding silt and let the vegetation grow back. This unusual landscape has become the symbol and trade mark of Dawson City.


Hansuli and Lisbeth with a Mammoth tooth at Goldbottom Mine
Hansuli and Lisbeth with a Mammoth tooth at Goldbottom Mine

Panning for Gold
Panning for Gold

The evening of the 3rd of August, we just had a BBQ supper at the campers after a leisurely day visiting the sites in town and doing laundry. Dieter, a cyclist we had met on Top of the World Highway on his bike dropped in for a glass of wine and some food. This crazy Swiss guy from Thun cycled Alaska and the Yukon all by himself.


Lisbeth and Hansuli with views from the Midnight Dome above Dawson
Lisbeth and Hansuli with views from the Midnight Dome above Dawson

On August 4th, we took another gold mining tour to the  Goldbottom Mine on Hunker Creek. Martin, our Arcadian guide from Moncton, New Brunswick had a few sayings: "What happens in the Yukon stays in the Yukon", and "Yukon men are men, and so are the women!". Martin was a very good guide. We all learned more about gold mining, and we all tried to pan some gold in the creek..


Annemarie and Christian at Diamond tooth Gerties
Annemarie and Christian at Diamond tooth Gerties

That evening, we all went to Diamond Tooth Gerties. This is the local dance and gambling hall. The show was pretty good. The dancing girls were doing the Can-can. Gertie sang and knew how to work the crowd. I am sure just like in the good old days.


Girls Dancing At Diamond Tooth Gerties
At Diamond Tooth Gerties


Gambling was in full swing at the tables and at the One-armed Jacks. Anders even won $ 11.00. We all had a good time.

St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew's Church
The Dawson City People are a special breed. They come from all over the world. In the gold rush time  the newcomers were called Chechako or Neophytes, and only became a Sourdough by staying and surviving in Dawson at least one winter. Even today, there is a pride and adventure aura about the Dawson citizens. 

Dawson is a interesting little town to walk around in and to enjoy the quaint stores, museum, old buildings, and its unique people. For more pictures check out our album.

Dawson City
Dawson City


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22 March 2015

Yukon and Alaska Bound Part 38. Top of the World Highway, Chicken Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon


Top of the world Highway


The Views from the the Top Of The World Highway is incredible.
The Views from the the Top Of The World Highway is incredible.
Top of the world highway.
Top of the world highway.

The road is narrow and slippery.
The road is narrow and slippery.

The road is narrow and slippery.
The road is narrow and slippery.

Driving is a bit tense at times. But all is good.
Driving is a bit tense at times. But all is good.
At 3 am last night it rained cats and dogs. we both looked up the weather report for the coming day and it does not look good.



Our plan was to go over the Top of the Word the coming morning in good weather..... Well, things does not always turn out the way one hopes.



At 7 am Liz went to tell the other two groups to go back to sleep; it's to rainy. We will hold off a few hours.



By 10 am it had lifted a bit and the forecast for the following day was even worse. We break camp and get on the road.



The first stretch was steep and mushy wet road. The road is narrow adn follows the ridge of the hills.



The views are, well, like on "top of the world" looking over and down on layers and layers of hills and valleys.



There are some active mines along the creeks and remote valleys. The gravel road became quite slippery at times, however we maneuvered the truck and trailer over the steep inclines and hills down.



We made several stops to relax and take pictures of the incredible views. We really would like to do this part again in fall and in nice weather. One more thing for the bucket list.



We eventually arrive at the Canadian and Yukon border.



One of the border guards was from Quadra Island, which is an Island we have to cross to get to our place on Cortes Island. Small world.



Top of the World Highway

Annemarie, Christian, Hansuli, Lisbeth, Liz and Anders
Annemarie, Christian, Hansuli, Lisbeth, Liz and Anders

Ferry across the Yukon River
Ferry across the Yukon River
Nice to be back in Canada again, feels good to come home. After a few more hours of driving we eventually come to the ferry crossing over the Yukon River and arrive at our campground in Dawson City.



This time we stay right in town at Gold Rush Campground. They have full hookups with 30 amp. Some site are a bit tight but good over all.



This a great campground to stay at while exploring Dawson City. You can walk to everything from here.



More pictures from this part of our trip here.








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Yukon and Alaska Bound Part 37. Denali to Fairbanks and Quartz Lake


Drive From Denali to Fairbanks to Quartz Lake


Wonderful landscape as we drive north from Denali, Alaska
Drive from Denali to Quartz Lake, Alaska. This is north of Denali.
Road Construction north of Denali and south of Fairbanks.
Road Construction north of Denali and south of Fairbanks.

Road Construction. One way traffic with pilot cars.
Road Construction. One way traffic with pilot cars.


It is the 31st of July 2014 and we were breaking camp and leaving Denali National Park behind.




The first part of the road toward Fairbanks was under construction, so there were quite a few waits along the way.




Once in Fairbanks we stopped in at Safeway and stocked up on some more supplies. We all felt it was time to move on, so we did not spend any more time in Fairbanks. Have to leave some for next time.




East of Fairbanks we made a quick stop in North Pole and visited Santa's village. It was fun, and the store had tons of decorations to choose from.





Lizbeth and Hansuli at Quartz Lake, Alaska
Lisbeth and Hansuli at Quartz Lake, Alaska

Christian and Annemarie at Quartz Lake, Alaska
Christian and Annemarie at Quartz Lake, Alaska
We stopped and set up camp at Quartz Lake State Recreation Area. This a a very nice park and the campground is great. We were the only campers in the park.



We had a wonderful evening with good food and wine. Before bed time, we went down to the dock and watched a moose foraging in the shallows across the lake. Here are some more pictures from Denali to Quartz Lake.





Quartz Lake to Chicken Alaska


The next morning the 1st of August we continued our trip south east on #2 Hwy with the rain clouds chasing us from the west.


We make a stop at the Sausage Factory or Delta Meat and Sausage Co. They are at Mile 1413 Delta Junction. Wow, they sure have some good sausages. Love the reindeer summer sausage. We filled our freezer up!

RV Pit-stop along the trail from Quartz Lake to Chicken Alaska.
Pit-stop along the trail from Quartz Lake to Chicken Alaska.
Liz taking in the sights at one of the dry river beds.
Liz taking in the sights at the Tanana River

Road with mountains in the back drop.
Alaska at its best.

An almost dry river bed.
An almost dry river bed.

Pit-stop on our way to Chicken Alaska.
Pit-stop on our way to Chicken Alaska.

Chicken Alaska
Chicken Alaska

Celebrating the Swiss National Holiday
Celebrating the Swiss National Holiday
Soon we were passing the village of Tok and intersection HWY 1 south. We continued on number two HWY till we came to the intersection of number five highway also called the Top Of the World Highway.



Our destination is a village called Chicken. The distance from Tok to Chicken is approximately 130 km. The number five highway is bumpy with lots of curves and you will not break any speed records on these parts.



We eventually arrived in Chicken in pouring rain. Chicken is a surviving old gold rush town dating back to the late 1800's.



The name was supposed to be "Ptarmigan" because the abundance of this bird around here.



However, no one was really sure how to spell Ptarmigan, so instead of being publicly humiliated, they named the town Chicken instead.



The town is home to about 17 people with many more moving in during the summer months when the gold mining is at it's peak and the tourists come through here.



We checked in at the local hotel / restaurant / RV Park. The RV park is OK with water and electric hook-ups.



They do have a dumping station that needs leveling. It is leaning the wrong way so your lines do not get clean.



That evening we celebrated the Swiss National Holiday, and reflected on yet another wonderful day.



More pictures from this part of the trip here.






























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20 March 2015

Yukon and Alaska Bound Part 36. Denali National Park, Alaska



Denali National Park Tour.


A huge Moose looked at us at the Denali Visitor Centre entrance. Hello....


Moose at the Entrance of the Park's Visitor Centre
Moose at the Entrance of the Park's Visitor Centre

Bleary-eyed we were here at 5:30 am after getting up at 4:30 am to meet with our morning park tour, scheduled for 6 am..


Still half asleep
Still half asleep
Our Green Bus was waiting
Our Green Bus was waiting

July 30th 2014 became a wonderful and special day.

Early morning along the Savage River, Denali National Park
Early morning along the Savage River, Denali National Park

It was a cool morning. We waited for the rest of the tour group. We had warm clothes, coffee, water and sandwiches along in our backpacks. We had decided to take the no frill "Green" shuttle bus tour to Eielson, about 66 miles ( 106 km ) into the park ( we had reserved and paid the day before, $ 34.50 per person ). 

The "Tan " bus tours were quite a bit more expensive and had a boxed lunch included and were narrated. As we found out later, those buses were of the same quality as the green ones, and their 6am tour had a break-down midway.
 
Driving to Eielson, 66 miles into Denali National Park
Driving to Eielson, 66 miles into Denali National Park

Moose at Breatfast
Moose at Breatfast



Talking about narrated, our tour guide was "Bear". He looked like a bear, but talked non-stop during the entire tour. I don't think we needed more narration. "Bear" did a great job explaining and pointing out the vistas and animals in the park.







He was also a very good driver, a necessity, because further into the park the road became very narrow and dangerous. We were glad no private cars were allowed further in than Savage River ( to Mile 15 ).


Wonderful Mountains
Wow

An incredible park
Wow, Wow...

Denali National Park and Preserve was established in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park. In 1980 it was renamed to Denali. It is about 250 miles ( 400 km ) south of the Arctic Circle. 

The park is huge, about 6 million acres ( almost 25,000 sq. km), and most visitors only see a fraction of the park. Only about 30 percent of all visitors actually have a chance to see "the mountain". 


Denali ( formerly Mount McKinley )
Denali ( formerly Mount McKinley )

Denali, the Great One, 20,320 ft. or 6,193 m
Denali, the Great One, 20,320 ft. or 6,193 m

Today, for us the weather-goddess was in a fantastic mood. Not only did we have sparkling weather, we were also among the very few tourists to see Denali without a fog cap ( only about 10% have that opportunity! ). We marvelled at Denali all day in brilliant sunshine. 


Caribou crossing the road
The Paparazzi of the Green Bus
The Paparazzi of the Green Bus


Caribou resting
Caribou

Yes, we were lucky, but it also pays off to check the weather ahead of time carefully. Yesterday it rained all day, and as we found out later, the same tour the day after was marred with fog and rain so thick, nobody could see the mountain.


Hansuli and Liz having lunch at Eielson
Lunch at Eielson

Anders and Liz, Denali in the backdrop.
Anders and Liz

Our green bus with "Bear" on the wheel and microphone drove slowly along the park road. We stopped from time to time to marvel at the vistas. 

Mountain landscape


"Bear" drives carefully along the Park Road
"Bear" drives carefully along the Park Road

We did spot animals. Often they were far away. Do not expect them to be close and cuddly, Denali is a wilderness park not a zoo. Moose, Dall Sheep, Caribou, Golden Eagles, various birds, Mountain Squirrels, and a mama Grizzly ( Brown Bear ) with her two cubs, were all part of our enjoyment.


Mama Grizzly ( Brown Bear ) with her two Cubs
Mama Grizzly ( Brown Bear ) with her two Cubs

A Caribou running in the creek to get rid of some pesky Bugs
A Caribou running in the creek to get rid of some pesky Bugs


Very tired, but happy we all returned back to our campsite at Denali RV Park and Motel.


Lisbeth and Hansuli
Lisbeth and Hansuli

Anders and Christian
Anders and Christian

 A tour in Denali National Park is an absolute must if you visit Alaska. Hopefully one should spend a few days in the park, hiking, cycling and touring. To camp right in the park, and specially at Riley Creek which is car accessible, one should reserve way ahead of time!


Mount Denali at its best, wonderful landscape

More pictures here.

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