Alaska, the Last Frontier - Summer 2012 travel blog

Arctic fox

just woke up

big horn sheep

caribou feeding on bushes

caribou

field of mule deer

buffalos

lynx

musk ox

thin horn deer


Yes it was still raining, so we headed to the Transportation Museum. Transportation is important wherever you live, but the challenges involved in trying to move from here to there in this climate are daunting indeed. Pilots started flying in to the area in the 1920's. A wall displayed photos of each one in chronological order. We walked quite a way past the photos, before we came to a pilot who lived long enough to retire. Planes would land on icy lakes, only to have the ice shatter. Then they would unload the goods they were delivering and props up the wings enough to put pontoons on the plane instead of skis. Not for the faint of heart. Another exhibit covered the role of dog sleds in opening up the Yukon. Also not for the faint of heart. There are lots of swiftly flowing rivers in the Yukon when the snow melts. Miners had to make their own row boats to get to their claims and learned from the locals to make moose skin canoes. There was also a harrowing account of a young woman who hired a plane for a short trip and crashed. Her injuries and the pilot's were not severe, but they endured 49 days without food in -40º temperatures before they were found and rescued. Medical personnel determined that they both survived because they were overweight before they started this astonishing ordeal.

Suddenly the rain stopped, the sun came out and everyone ran outside. The locals put on tank tops and shorts (it was 60º) and started pedaling their bikes through the mountains. We drove to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and also got on our bikes to pedal around and view the animals. The animals have tons of space to roam, so in some spots we read the explanatory sign and looked in vain for the creatures described. But it was a thrill of get close up views of creatures like Arctic Fox, which we would probably never see driving down the highway. Many of the animals looked very ratty; they are in the middle of exchanging their heavy winter fur for the lighter summer version.

It has rained so much here that we've heard that the road we took northwest to Whitehorse is closed due to flooding. I guess we shouldn't complain too much. At least we got here. Because there are so few roads in the Yukon, if the road you are on is closed, there really is nowhere else to go. We also heard that the road we will take from here to Skagway in a few days is closed as well. I called the campground there and they said things are up and running again. And tomorrow it's supposed to be sunny ALL day.

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