Our Lazy Daze Motorhome

Our Lazy Daze Motorhome
2009 Lake Louise

Friday, June 12, 2009

Alaska - Part VI - Fairbanks, AK to Denali Nat'l Park

Sunday, June 7, 2009

We are in Fairbanks at the River’s Edge Campground with full hook-ups (incl. TV and wi-fi). It sits on the Chena River, which is good for fishing, as well as boating and swimming. Arriving, our mileage was 25,202.4. That means our mileage from Birmingham is right at 5,000 miles. We cleaned the LD up a bit in the morning then took the 2:00 pm Discovery Riverboat tour. We met the tour bus at 1:00 along with several other couples from the campground and lodge. The riverboat offered several demonstrations along the bank as we boated down the Chena River. We saw a float plane take off and land within feet of the riverboat. The captain stopped the riverboat at the Susan Butcher Dog Kennels (she won the Iditarod 4 times with her dog Granite; in 2006 she lost her life to leukemia at the age of 52) and saw how they train the dogs for a race in the summer, by pulling a four wheeler around instead of a sled. The dogs get so excited; once they are in place they just want to RUN. Just down the river, an Eskimo gave us a demonstration of how her people had smoked salmon for centuries. What made these demonstrations so nice was that the people on the banks had microphones which came through on the riverboat’s audio system so there was dialog between the captain and the Eskimos giving these talks. We were able to get off the boat at an authentic looking Indian village with numerous demonstrations of the life and culture of the Eskimos centuries ago, i.e., how animals were trapped and how their fur and meat was used for clothing, housing, and food. There was a caribou exhibit. Know the difference in a caribou and a reindeer? Reindeers can fly! The experience was interesting. People from the banks that gave the earlier demonstrations were also in the village to answer any questions. Susan Butcher’s daughter was there to sign her mom’s book appropriately named “Granite”. After a trip through the gift shop, we boarded the bus and got back to the LD around 5:00 pm. We walked over to the campground-owned Chena’s Alaskan Grill for dinner. Nice restaurant but a little pricey. We had a glass of wine and light fare and then back home to our cozy bed to watch a little TV before turning in.
Monday, June 8, 2009

12:00 midnight

We visited the North Pole and Santa Land. As we were driving back to Fairbanks from North Pole, the battery door opened and the tray that hold the two house batteries came sliding out. We had the tray repaired at Alaska RV. We then headed to the Pump House on the Chena River for dinner. We both had their fresh Halibut and it was delicious. We went back to our campsite and proceeded to do laundry with 7 or 8 other couples. We took pictures of the daylight at 12:00 mid-night and finished the laundry about 12:30 am.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We made phone calls, dumped, cleaned and re-arranged. We went to Fred Meyers for gas, groceries and bear spray, and went to the post office to mail t-shirts and post cards to the grandkids. We left Fairbanks about 2:00 pm. Mileage 25,248.3. We arrive at the Riley Creek Campground about 4:30 pm. We checked in and picked up our tickets for tomorrow’s bus trip. It was a really nice, updated campground with lots of trees, new restrooms and picnic tables, and a well-stocked Mercantile for supplies. We had cell (ATT) service and wi-fi was available at the Mercantile. Highly recommend for dry camping. When we first arrived, we drove around the campground and found two other Lazy Daze rigs. We talked to one of the owners. Both owners were women traveling alone, one from MA and the other from CA. We grilled salmon for dinner, packed our backpacks for tomorrow’s bus trip into the park and went to bed early.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We woke at 6:00 am, dressed quickly, and caught the shuttle to the Wilderness Center. We left on our bus tour to Kantishna at 7:45 am. That is as far as you can go on the Park Road, 90 miles one way. Our driver was Kim Turnbull and was very entertaining. We saw 16 grizzly bears, some very close to the road, lots of caribou, Dall sheep, Alaska’s state bird (Ptarmigan), Bald Eagle, and arctic ground squirrels. We saw lots of wildflowers that are indigenous to this area. We are now in the 30% club, only 30% of the people that visit Mt. McKinley get to see the top. It is generally clouded over, but we saw it! It was a long trip, but worth every minute. As we returned to the campground, Kim dropped us at 7:45 pm at the Murie Science Center where Verna Pratt was giving a talk on Alaskan wildflowers. She is very well-known and published several books on wildflowers in this area, but has a Baa Haabaa accent!! She did a great job, but we were exhausted so we left early and caught the shuttle to our campsite.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It is so gorgeous here that we decided to stay another day. We biked into the village of Denali, had lunch at the Salmon Bake restaurant (no salmon on the menu for lunch). We took what we thought was a shortcut to the Denali Park Visitor’s Center that ended up on the “wrong side of the tracks” at Denali station, so we carried our bikes across about 6 pair of tracks and headed the 200 yards to the visitor’s center where we saw many (stuffed) wild animals and a nice demonstration of how the Eskimos lived before the white men arrived. We bought several books, one was Verna Pratt’s wildflower books. The bike trail was downhill, so it didn’t take us long to get back to the Mercantile where we bought a few items and then back to the campsite for a pasta dinner. We took a short walk around the campground to see if we could find a brown Lazy Daze we saw drive through, but no luck. Ed tried to sit outside for a while, but the mosquitoes here are very aggressive! We were both exhausted from our bike rides today. Tomorrow we will leave Denali for Talkeetna.