This is the final posting for our journey to Canada and Alaska for the summer of 2013. All I can say is the trip was awe-inspiring. The trip fuels the flame for more travel adventures. It was sad that it did end abruptly on a sour note. So now we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get on with life. Medical issues aside, life is good, we are bouncing back with updated priorities but have a new set of “marching orders”, at least for the next few months.
Along the road we noted summer is coming to an end as there were no more roses to stop and smell as the locals are now harvesting the rose hips. The final leg was from Skagway (South Klondike Highway), back tracking along the Alaska Highway and then heading south on the Cassiar Highway. These highways are spectacular as well as fun to drive. It was easy to find impressive places to stay. The Provincial Parks along the Cassiar are exceptional. Our pace slowed to take advantage of that place at that point in time.
The South Klondike Highway had a number of steep grades however the views are spectacular. There are many turnouts to get that “one more” Photo. We kept meeting the same folks along the way. Many of them were from the Skagway Tour Ships in rental cars out exploring. One destination for many was Emerald Lake…very colorful as well as beautiful.
Heading into Alaska in June we run out of time in Whitehorse, YT. We took a couple of more days to finish up what we had missed. Back in the day in this part of the world the mode of transportation was the steamboat. Parks Canada has done an excellent job restoring the S.S. Klondike an icon from the past. It is worth a stop. Although a bit eclectic, the locally run MacBride Museum was interesting. Sam Magee’s cabin is housed there. Sam Magee was made famous by Robert Service, poet who wrote the “Cremation of Sam Magee”. Whitehorse is “the” city in the Yukon with a unique personality of its own.
We heard some nice things about the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center. We planned an overnight at Teslin. The Provincial Park on Teslin Lake ended up being the highlight of the stop as the Heritage Center was ok but overrated. Over the course of the trip we did many native Heritage Centers and found that the price of admission had nothing to do with the depth and breadth of the materials presented.
Along the way we had heard a lot about the Cassiar Highway both good and bad. It is 450 miles south from the Alaskan Highway to the Yellowhead Highway. The Yellowhead extends from Prince Rupert to Edmonton and is a main route. The Cassiar is narrow with no shoulder on the north and widens as you head south and was an easy driving experience (at least we had experienced much worse). Once again the views are terrific and the grades were not as bad as expected. By the way there is a side trip from Dease Lake to Telegraph Creek (a native village) which is outstanding, if you can take driving the narrow road along very high cliffs. Those who have done it said it is over the top in the way of an experience. We did not take the time to do it but wished we had!
The first stop was Boya Lake. It is big rig friendly. The park and the lake are outstanding. We got the Kayaks in the water. The color of the lake is breathtaking. However there are no fish in the lake.
The next stop was Kinaskan Lake. There we had another great spot on the water. This is a great fishing lake and a destination for many.
The final stop on the Cassiar was Meziadian Lake. This is a very nice park where we planned to spend some time. This is where the trip took that unexpected turn. The plan was to use the park as a base camp. The attraction was Hyder, Alaska about 45 miles west which is where the bears hang out feeding on Salmon this time of the year. This was highlighted as a must see by those who had been there. We ended up spending only one night before heading off to Smither’s to find me some medical help with my ailing leg.
We spent about a week in Smithers. Once I was given medical clearance to drive home we took on the 2,500 mile journey. It took eight days to make the trip. The route was through the Canadian Rockies to US 2. US 2 is the northern East/West route across the US. It is mostly two lanes and much of it through the Plains. Lots of small towns to keep you entertained along the way. It was good to see the Mackinaw Bridge and knowing that we were only 100 miles from home.
It has been a little over a week since we got back. Our world is transitioning from life on the road to one of being home bound. The current read is we will be grounded here for at least the next six months. The fact that the house did not sell we now see as divine intervention. This gives us a nice place to hang out for the near-term. Although our winter plans have to change we are already starting the planning for next summer’s trip to Utah. Stay tuned to find out what comes next with the Traverse City Snyder’s.
For those of you who are planning a trip to Alaska we are always looking for opportunities to share our experience.
Larry and Jan