Steve and Connie's Alaska Roadtrip 2015 travel blog

Ferry. Best light we had all day.

We finally made it to Alaska! But today was not an easy travel day. We woke up early, and we were at the ferry by 7:00. Long line already. Getting here via truck camper instead of a larger vehicle has had many advantages. Since we are small, we were sent to the front of the ferry line to be used as "filler". The ferries can handle only 2 or 3 of the huge vehicles, and using truck campers, cars and motorcycles as filler improves their productivity. Being small probably saved us an hour in line.

Last nite in Dawson, Steve joined the Sourtoe Cocktail club by drinking a shot that included an ancient severed human toe. The original toe was lost to frostbite, but I think this is a replacement. It was a really gross thing, and it has to touch your lips for you to get a certificate. He is a member of the club, and I am not planning to kiss him anytime soon. We were surprised, but we really enjoyed Dawson. I would have liked to stay a little longer. Few people live there, and the ones who do are a bit crazy. Everyone else (with the exception of a few day trippers from the cruises) is passing through on some great adventure. Fascinating people to talk to, and everyone wants to talk! Dawson is considering applying to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whatever they do, we wish them well.

Went to sleep last nite to the sound of rain, and woke up to the smell of smoke. We left Dawson in a cloudy haze, not sure how much was smoke and how much was fog or rain clouds. The Top of the World road was "not that bad", as people had told us. Again, the roads were at least as good as those in TX (clearly my road low bar). But every time we reached elevations above 3000 feet, visibility was severely reduced. Alaska is on fire. Lightening-caused wildfires are a regular summer event here, and the smoke is causing problems all over the state. We had heard the Kenai Peninsula, where we will be soon, was having a lot of trouble with fires. One of the places we had expected to stay was evacuated. But the high elevations have so much smoke on them, you can't see the end of your vehicle's hood. At one point, we were navigating a one lane dirt road at almost 4000 feet by Steve driving and me hanging out the passenger window in the rain to let him know how much shoulder remained on my side before we pitched over the edge. Wouldn't do it again for a year's pay, unless I could be guaranteed clear weather at the top. True enough, the road is not that bad. But if you don't have a clear day, you won't have a good day. Needless to say, I did not get any decent pix.

Tonight we are just outside Fairbanks, and heading to Denali tomorrow for a few days. I can't help feeling the worst is behind us, and I am counting on smooth sailing for the rest of the trip. But I think it will be smoky while we are in Alaska.

At this point, what have we done right and what have we done wrong? Bringing the smallest vehicle you feel comfortable with, as long as it has hard sides and good handling ability, is the right thing to do. The big motorhomes are too much trouble in this area. We did that right. But if I had this trip to do over, I would do it in Aug-Sept, instead of June-July. Migrating animals, Salmon runs, and leaf color are gifts you will get in mid-Aug or later, not in mid-summer. Of course, you will have more rain then, but fewer fires. Also, I would make time to take the Dempster Road to put my toes in the Arctic Sea, and I would definitely save time to take the Skagway train and see the Chilcoot or White Passes.

Last piece of good news - we had a stare-down with a moose today right on the Alaska Highway. It was a good day, after all.

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