Now part of Caravan. Today May 31 in Tok Alaska

So we met up with our Caravan in Prince George BC. We missed the few days in Banff and Jasper but decided we’ll fly back there again some day to tick them off our list. In meantime we had several long travel days ahead to reach Skagway AK. The roads through BC had been very good….much better than ever expected. But our ‘Wagon Master’ (WM) holds regular ‘Driver’ meetings before heading out on the road to prep us for road conditions and what to expect. Up to that point the roads continued to be fairly good with ave speeds of 50-55. We had 4-6 hr driving days with overnight stays in Smithers BC (Winset RV Park), Iskut BC (Red Goat RV Park, but no services….just a field we all circled our wagons in…know as boondocking), Nugget City, BC (Baby Nugget RV Park), then arriving in Skagway Alaska. The roads worsened through this journey with several sections of torn-up roads for 5-10 miles at a time. Our RV and towed SUV were coated in mud, since CD requires road construction to be watered down to keep dust down. Not sure it made things better. Ave speeds during days dropped to 40-45 but 15-20 on gravel sections. Views all around us were stunning at every turn with snow-capped mountain ranges 10-15k ft elevation. But our roads went up and down to about 3,000. We exiting the Alaska Hwy (1500 miles Dawson Creek BC to Fairbanks AK) onto Cassiar Hwy towards Skagway. After about 100 miles we began the descent into Skagway. This was an amazing cliff-hanging road of about 30 miles with straight-up rock inclines on passenger side and sheer 1,000′ drops on driver side. It made Jurassic Park vistas look tame in comparison. A deep ravine held the Skagway River below with rushing rapids from the mountain snow melts, some of which were drifts 50-70′ deep, so they told us. We passed the Welcome To Alaska sign bout 15 miles from Skagway but tour buses had hundreds of people taking pictures so we didn’t stop. About 5 miles AFTER the Welcome sign we passed CD Customs. Another 5 miles we passed thru US Customs. CD has a CanArrive App you download and then enter your info incl pics of passports and vaccination cards. It worked well so time at CD customs was very efficient and quick. About 2 mins when entering CD from Wash State, and maybe 4 mins when leaving Skagway and going back into CD again. Skagway itself was an incredible little town at the mouth of the Skagway River where it empties into the Pacific with towering mtns in all directions. 4 huge cruise ships were at port as we arrived…shocking to see them in the middle of the mtns but the Pacific Passages enabled them to do so. The town was packed with tourists from the ships as we had to weave our way through town to reach our RV park, which was really a blacktop parking lot near the cruise terminal but had access to power and water (had to conserve water and dump our tanks at the ‘dump station’ on our way out). Skagway is the historic town from the 1898 Alaska Gold Rush. The town was small with about 4 main streets and 20 cross avenues. Many buildings have been restored and maintained from the Rush. If you have a chance you should look up the Skagway history and the unbelievable journey required to reach the site. Too much to cover here but worth the read. We walked the town several times and ate/drank at several spots including the famous Red Onion Saloon and Brothel where we had a tour of the preserved building and ‘upstairs’ Happy Endings rooms. We took a tour of the Dyea ghost town where thousands of gold seekers created a small village, but lasted only about 2 years. Our group came upon a Mama bear and 2 cubs during the walk which drew screams from the 2 ladies in front of our group and scared the bears away. Our guide estimated Mama at about 600 lbs…thank goodness she ran away from us. We also took the White Pass RR on a journey to the top of the Pass out of Skagway. It was an amazing ride along sheer cliffs, climbing to about 6,000 ft with 5-10 ft of snow at the top. It had to be one of the world’s most amazing feats to build this narrow-gauge RR. To build it required men hanging from ropes down the cliffs, manually drilling holes into the rocks, inserting dynamite, then having to time their swings away from the blow points as they lit the dynamite! Holy Poop Batman! And we think our jobs are stressful? So, after our trek back up the 20 mile climb out of Skagway, we had to cover over 500 miles in 2 days to Tok AK, with an overnight stay in Destruction Bay, Yukon. Roads were not great, especially the last 225 miles from DB to Tok, probably averaging 35 MPH with severe frost heaves, pot holes, and occasional road work. With our large wheelbase RV’s our WM warned that higher speeds could torque the frame of the RV causing severe damage. So we heeded her warning and understood what she warned us about. At times I felt like Ms Pacman bobbing and weaving to miss pot holes and take the big dips and swells slowly. We entered Alaska once again about 100 miles from Tok, our current location for 2 nights and a welcomed day of rest and RV washing. Some other tidbits:

  • Temps have been warmer than expected. 40’s at night making great sleeping weather, and 60/70’s during the day. We’re both in shorts and T’s today
  • Mosquitos present but not too bad, though some large enough to carry off small pets. Fortunately they are slow so easy to swat if you see them in time.
  • Wildlife sightings include black bears, brown bears, coyotes, fox, porcupine, deer, squirrels, caribou. Still looking for moose, big horn sheep, grizzly bear, and elk, though others in our group have claimed sightings
  • Newest RV issue was electric short for our 50 amp svc (req for washer/dryer, A/C units, etc). Still had 30 amp but very limited power source, but better than none. Our WM’s husband and RV park owner both immediately jumped into action and bypassed our power reel for the power cord which transfers power to the coach. Diagnosed the reel as causing a short disabling the 50 amp svc. A new reel is on order and due to arrive next week in Talkeetna AK…..another perk of travelling within a caravan. In the meantime Cindy happy to be doing laundry for first time in 4-5 days
  • Since we are now in bear territory incl Grizzlies, we always have our air horn and bear spray nearby….hoping nearer then the bear!
  • We head to Fairbanks tomorrow for 5 days, then Talkeetna for another 5. These stops will include a number of our excursions so should have some good reports and pics on our next posting. So long for now!

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