A Fat Old Lady Takes a Road Trip
Alaska to New York and back
June-July 2008

Back to early June photos 08  

 On to Road Trip 2


Plans don't always work out as intended. I did start out on the trip Saturday, June 21st, but had to turn back when my brakes seized up and my tires started smoking. Several attempted starts were aborted as I wound up back at the shop for additional work. Time is short, because I was hoping to be in the Syracuse area for a family reunion party on July 4th. I don't know if I can make it in time, but I am finally ON THE ROAD as of Tuesday, June 24. I left Anchorage at about 3:30 PM, stopped at Glennallen to visit my daughter Shana, her husband Kurt, and their two adorable mini-Australian Shepherds, Pele and Kendra. After a short, but nice visit, we were on the road again, heading toward Tok (it's pronounced with a long O). We went about 50 miles further and stopped at a nice big pulloff by Chistochina River. The weather was perfect all day. As we settled in for the night, a gentle rain fell.

There was no cell phone signal there, and no cafe or other human habitation with WiFi. I uploaded this the next day, at a gift shop in Tok that has a WiFi connection.

Here are photos from Tuesday, in the order they were taken:

Matanuska River, not far from Palmer, about 40 miles from Anchorage

Matanuska Glacier, about 100 miles from Anchorage
Two more views of the wild "Prickly Roses"-- blossoms with blue sky / a bud with a bee
Snowy peaks, along the Glenn Highway
A tiny blue butterfly, seen just outside of Glennallen
My daughter Shana, her husband Kurt, and their dogs, in Tazlina
Me with Angel (the cat) and Jascha, taken by Shana's home
Bear root flowers, with Mt. Drum in the background, along the Tok Cutoff


This time of year the sun comes up around 4:20 AM and sets about 11:40 PM. That gives us lots of daylight hours for driving, photography, and tapping away at the computer. It does seem that the driving time is suffering because of my frequent attempts to get online and upload data. Although I was driving by 8 this morning, and put in for the night right around 10:30, I didn't even get quite 300 miles today. Going to have to find a compromise. I am still trying to get to upstate NY by the Fourth, after all.

Well, today we hit the Alaska Highway at Tok, and later went international as we entered Canada, near Beaver Creek, Yukon. The highlight of the day-- Jascha would agree with that assessment-- was our encounter with a pair of coyotes. One was very shy and quickly ran off into the woods. The other was interested in us and approached the van, a bit warily, but quite close. He seemed curious about Jascha, sitting in his co-pilot chair, and also seemed to be begging for treats. There is very, very little traffic on the Alaska Highway; I've driven up and down several times and it's always been busy before. Gas prices? Just changing travel styles? I don't know, but it surprised me.

We've found a beautiful camping site right next to Lake Kluane. Weather has been gorgeous, warm, with blue skies and white clouds. It sure does get cold overnight though. Brrrrrr! Angel cuddles under the covers with me part of the time.

Wedsnesday's photos are linked below:

Mentasta Lake in Alaska was casting perfect mirror reflections; Scene 1 / Scene 2
A wild potentilla (cinquefoil) with a tiny ant on board
The diminutive bell flowers of the lingonberry plant
A brown dragonfly, near the border
Angel: I could be a wild cat; really I could.
Just across the Yukon border, I saw this reflecting pond
There was a swan on the other side of the pond-- telephoto view
This coyote was slipping into the scrub before I could get the camera ready
But this one doubled back for a closer look
The tongue gesture suggests he was hoping for more than getting his picture taken
We camped right next to this shoreline-- Lake Kluane
Looking the other way from the camping spot-- a mountain rises over River Beauty flowers
The shoreline again, as the sun goes down, casting moody shadows


Traffic continues to be very light, and the road conditions very bad. After a trip from Lake Kluane to Whitehorse, I stopped for lunch. However, my left front wheel has developed a grinding noise when I turn left so I found Canada Tire, not far from the edge of town. The guys there scheduled it in quickly, and it seemed fortunate that it was lunch time anyway, the shop has WiFi in the waiting room, and it's air conditioned. But things got worse. The problem was a broken "control arm" and the van isn't safe to drive. Frost heaves and potholes in the road may have contributed to the problem. The mechanics were not able to find a new or used part locally, and had to order it from Dodge. That means I'm stuck here. Wait-- it gets worse. The part is expected to arrive late Monday, but Tuesday is a holiday here in Canada, so next Wednesday is the first chance they'll have to start work on it. If all goes well, I'll be able to leave Whitehorse sometime July 2nd. In the meantime, they've put the van in back of their shop, in a quiet area away from the parking lot and roads, so I can continue to live in it with my pets. That was thoughtful of them. Jascha and I can walk around the city a bit, and there are stores nearby for supplies. We'll be okay, but, of course, there isn't any chance at all of getting to the east coast by July Fourth. Very disappointing.

Thursday's photos of Lake Kluane and a bird:

The Kluane beach scene, on Thursday morning, a beautiful place to wake up
Those River Beauty flowers again, looking across a narrow point of the lake
The last view of Lake Kluane, from further down the highway
When I stopped to get coffee in Haines Junction, I was entertained by barn swallows nesting at the cafe


Since I'm stranded in Whitehorse, Jascha and I took a nice walk, leaning into the heavy wind, just looking around. There's a large cliff very close to the mechanic shop where we're parked for the time being. We hunted around by the cliff and quickly found a footpath that goes part way up. We tried to climb further and got nearly to the top. Footing is insecure on the dried mud and there's no vegetation up there, so when Jascha started to act worried, we turned around. However, I found a beautiful flower up there, Yukon Beardtongue. It grows in Alaska too, but I haven't seen it there. I've been told the cliff is simply called "Clay Cliff" and there are other footpaths in the area. We might get up to the top if we can find a better trail, and if the weather clears up.

Weather is cold and windy. Clouds move through, clear up a bit, then move in again, as one front after another passes through the area. It's pretty much how things were in Anchorage earlier this summer.

 Photos from Saturday on Clay Cliff:

A view of Clay Cliff with flowers in the foreground
Close-up of Yukon Beardtongue, an interesting looking flower
And a view of the whold plant
An Oxytrope plant growing in the dry clay
Scene from the side of Clay Cliff
Some kind of Sage, Prairie or Northern
Jascha on a stretch of dry mud, near the top


Weather conditions moderated quite a bit today, making it much more pleasant for walking. Winds were variable, but mostly light, rain was sparing, and the sun peeked through intermittently. So Jascha and I explored the length of the city and back, seeing quite a few of the tourist sites along the way. We're "camped" in the Canadian Tire parking lot (in back) which is on the extreme north end of the town, surrounded by "big box" stores. The museum is near the heart of the older part of the community, and the sternwheeler, Klondike, is dry docked on the far south side. I'd guess that the whole place is less than two miles long; walking down and back was an enjoyable jaunt. Running alongside the city is the Yukon River. The violent white rapids, which reminded the gold prospectors of the mane of a white horse, is what gave the city its name. The white horse rapids are gone, tamed by dams. Many of the accouterments of the old gold rush ear have been preserved. I particularly enjoyed "shooting" birds in the green belt that runs alongside the river.

A Sunday tourist's view of Whitehorse, Yukon

Three views of the Yukon, River: View 1 / View 2 / View 3
Main Street, in downtown Whitehorse
The famous White Pass Railroad station
Taxidermy at the McBride Museum, with an unusual white moose
Inside an old Canadian Mountie's cabin
Sam McGee's original cabin, (but I don't think that's Sam standing there)
Three views of the historic sternwheeler, Klondike: View 1 / View 2 / View 3
Canadian flag, standing out in the wind, in Klondike Park
Birds in the Yukon River greenbelt:
A very large Herring Gull, Larus argentatus
A camouflaged Killdeer, Charaddrius vociferus
A beautiful and melodious Yellow Warbler, Dendroica petechia
A Chipping Sparrow, Spizella passerina, with bug
A White-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys, with bug

 The road trip continues! Click for more.