Alaska at last!

Day 12003Yesterday, on the 23rd day after entering Canada, we arrived in Alaska at last! We made it, what a wonderful milestone.

Day 12008We are happy on so many levels, not the least of which is that we have our girl Angel with us. We were not so sure she was going to be with us after she had some medical issues last November and again in February. We had some rough times together during the past seven months, but here she is!

Alaska initially greeted us with a warm beautiful day at the Welcome to Alaska sign and we took some fun photos there. We were now on the Alaska Highway 2.

Day 12014Day 12010

The boundary between Alaska and the Yukon is on the 141st Meridian, first described in an 1825 treaty between England and Russia. The U.S. accepted this provisional boundary in 1867 when it purchased Alaska.

There is a clear cut through the forest as far as the eye can see to designate the boundary, something we first learned about last year.  The treaty with Canada states that wherever the border is, it must be visible.

And so it is.Day 12007

Day 12001 (1)The Alaska Highway from the border to Delta Junction was designated the Purple Heart Trail to honor veterans. I was proud to have traveled on this road and thinking of my dad, a patriot who got a purple heart in World War II.

Day 12015Day 12009Our border crossing was uneventful. The officer asked the following questions:

How many days have we been in Canada?

Other than fuel what did we acquire in Canada?

Do you have firearms?

Do you have more than $10,000 in cash?

We miscalculated our produce consumption because we thought we would be in Canada a bit longer. So we told did him we had some produce left but he was not very interested.Day 12002

Day 12020Day 12018Next we stopped at the very cool Tetlin Wildlife Refuge building. They show a lovely film about the refuge, worth seeing, and have some good information. We picked up a map of BLM campgrounds there.Day 12022Day 12021

Shortly afterwards, it began to rain. Alaska just wanted us to know that she was not going to be too predictable.

The Tetlin Wildlife Refuge looks beautiful, but all except one of the viewpoints were too small for Island Girl to turn around. There were several campgrounds, one that accommodates big rigs, which was tempting. But we continued on to Tok.Day 12026

Right before we arrived in Tok, we crossed the Tanana River Bridge, typical of an Alaska Highway Bridge, in that it was first a wooden bridge built in 1942 by the U.S. Army. It was replaced by a steel bridge in 1943 which served highway traffic until it was replaced in 2010 by a new modern concrete bridge.Day 12024

There is an overlook at the site of the original bridge. And from there we spotted a moose cow swimming in the river just about to reach the shore. We had never seen a moose swimming, and now this was the second one since we reached Canada. A good omen.Day 12025

Day 12016Day 12017Day 12004Day 12030Day 12 driving recap:

Road Name (s): Yukon Highway 1 / Alaska Highway 1

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Conditions: Some frost heaves, some rough patches

Miles Today: 112

Driving Time: 2:10

Total Miles on the Alaska Highway: 1279

Total Miles in Canada: 1994

Total Miles in Alaska: 92

Total Miles since crossing the Canadian border: 2086

Total Hours Driving Across Canada: About 47

Average Miles per Hour: Just over 44mph

This drive was not as bad as in yesteryears, but still required some caution and close attention to the upcoming road. I am sure that the past few days we drove at a much slower pace than many people. But we also did just fine, nothing in the coach spilled over, no issues except for a lot of flying rocks hitting our poor Subaru.

Our plan had been to have longer driving days and a couple of nights at each stop. The idea being to have all day to spend at each of the main towns.  But the main sights in the towns often didn’t really need a whole day/  So we actually did kind of the opposite; short driving days, with many one night stays.

That worked well for us, because we broke up the driving with activities. We were able to see what we wanted in several of the towns in ½ day instead of one day. And were able to take a few extra nights when we wanted or needed them.

We have read that the shortest reasonable time that people have driven to Alaska after crossing the Canada border is about five days.  And I am sure that will work for some people. I am also sure that some people will take longer than our pace.  Day 12023

We had planned on 28 days and just took it day by day, it actually took 23..  And we are happy with our pacing.We were actually on the Alaska Highway for 19 days and drove on 12 of those days.

Day 12029In Tok, we stayed at the Young’s Chevron Station. They allow you to stay behind the station for free if you fill up. A gravel parking lot, but we parked sideways and had no one next to us. They also have a car wash, a dump and a water fill and are conveniently located next to the grocery store and across from the Visitor Center.

Tok is jokingly referred to as the vehicle washing capital of Alaska.  And we participated in the ritual by removing an amazing accumulation of gunk from Island Girl and the Coquí (the Subaru).

Not the most thorough job, but MUCH better

Not the most thorough job, but MUCH better

Tip of the day: On the Eastern route to Alaska, the places that have full scale or “super” grocery stores are: Grande Prairie in Alberta, then once on the Alaska Highway Fort Nelson, and Whitehorse. After that, there is an small IGA at Watson Lake and a medium grocery store in Tok. But there are long stretches with nothing but little roadhouses. So provision accordingly.

Day 12028We were so happy to have access to Verizon signal and be able to use our MiFi. Yay! We had been told by several people that AT&T has the best coverage in Alaska, but we are testing our Verizon coverage to see for ourselves. Time will tell.

Day 12027Our plan is to spend just over two months in Alaska, and another few weeks back on the Alaska Highway, the Cassiar Highway and British Columbia.

But in spite of all the planning for our time in Alaska, after spending quality time at the Visitor Center we are changing our planned routing for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

~ Brenda

16 thoughts on “Alaska at last!

  1. Who…hoo! you made it to Alaska! Congratulations on your big milestone. Isn’t it so exciting to be finally on a place that you have just been dreaming of and planning for a long time!
    That Thai place must be new, we did not see it in 2012.
    I just learned that your Subaru is Coqui, and I know what coqui is, that makes a very distinctive call in PR!

  2. Dream come true on MANY fronts for you three!!! Congrats, Friends3, and carry on! Way cool moose swimming shot! 🙂 Godspeed as ever. xo

  3. Great details about your pace. We tend to be slow travelers, and it’s nice to know that we can stop to enjoy the sights along the way … we have a 40′ foot pusher. Are the post dates, the actual date for the day you’re posting about or the date on which the blog entry is uploaded? We’re also Verizon users, so we will be interested in your experience with phone/internet access.

    • The pace is a delicate balance and different for everyone. The post dates are the date upon which the blog entry is published, during our Alaska travel we have been posting one to four days after each stop/activity. We haven’t made it too far, but so far Verizon is ok, although we have read that AT&T has the best coverage. We will post about our experience with Verizon.

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