The Gray Fox

Posted by Ana on Friday Jul 15, 2011

In the morning on july 12th we were seting in a polovere *(pullover) along the Haines Highway and I looked out the window and there was something like a dog. I asked my mom if it was a fox. She looked and said “yes”. Then daddy said it was a gray fox. We watched for a while and then he went down the road. Then we started driving to follow him but he went into the ditch but I spotted him again. This was my second gray fox on this trip. So far on this trip, I am the only one who has spotted a gray fox. Done.
(*editorial and typing assistance begins here)

A gray fox in the morning

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The Night of the Porcupine

Posted by Van on Friday Jul 15, 2011

Let July 11 forever be known as the Night of the Porcupine.

This whole trip I have wanted to catch sight of a porcupine. For weeks and weeks, I have gazed out the window of the camper, searching for one along the road. Looking for porcupine, I have spotted bear, moose, elk — all manner of critters — but not a porcupine. I have, perhaps, driven Jean and the girls a little crazy with it. One night, as we were watching three moose grazing in a lake, I joked, “You know, the one thing that would make this moment better? A porcupine.” They were less amused than I had hoped.

Anyway, July 11, we made our way back through Canada toward Haines, Alaska. Jean spotted something move off the road into the brush ahead. It was pretty far away yet, and she guessed it might be a small bear. As we neared the spot, I scanned between the bushes for a critter and, when I recognized what I was seeing, I excitedly exclaimed, “a porcupine!” All the girls came running up to the window as the porcupine scurried off into the woods. It was pretty good sized–much bigger than I expected–about the size of a small pig or a very large raccoon.

I was overjoyed to finally see a porcupine. I gave Jean a big kiss of gratitude and sat contentedly reliving the sighting in my mind as we cruised on down the road.

Then Jean spotted three more, one after the other, over the next twenty miles. I was beside myself.

And now, as Ana would say, my story is told.

This black bear is not one of the porcupines we saw that evening. It is a black bear which we spotted earlier that day.

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Trumpeter Swans

Posted by Greta on Friday Jul 15, 2011

As we were driving from the Sourdough Campground on July 11th, we saw some trumpeter swans! They were gorgeous and white as snow. The mom and the dad had four cygnets, or babies, with them, just like our family! We got out our binoculars and watched them for a long time. We also took lots of pictures.

A family of trumpeter swans on a lake in Alaska

The next day, we saw four more swans, just as pretty as the last ones. I had a perfect view of one from my window.

I’m so glad we got to see those beautiful birds. I hope we see more! 🙂

The view near Destruction Bay, Yukon

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Crossing Back into the US

Posted by Stella on Tuesday Jul 5, 2011

June 29th, we crossed back into the U.S. There wasn’t much to it except that we were coming in to Alaska for the first times of our lives.

Returning to the USA

When we pulled up, the man from the building came into the RV and checked our passports. He matched our pictures to us. If I was that guy, I’d be having fun. Poor Greta was doing algebra. I was excited to be entering Alaska.

We made it!

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The Top of the World Highway

Posted by Van on Tuesday Jul 5, 2011

The road that connects Dawson City, Yukon with The neighboring mining towns in Alaska is called the Top of the World Highway, and for good reason. Across the Yukon River from Dawson, it climbs up and runs along a mountain ridge for 70 or 80 miles, then drops down into the mining valleys of Alaska. From atop the ridge, you see the pine forests and mountain valleys of the south on the left and the treeless mountains and open tundra of the north on the right. Ahead and behind, the road winds and rolls from one hill to the next.

Standing on top of the world with Luciana

On June 29, after several days of clouds and rain, the finally sun came out for our drive on the Top of the World. And the world did seem to stretch out forever in all directions. It was a beautiful drive, and a long drive because much of the road is packed gravel and dirt.

The highway rolls ahead along the mountain ridge

We did not see any critters along the road that day, but we did see some fellows panning for gold in the creeks on the Alaska side. Apparently there is a mini-goldrush going on right now, with the price of gold so high. Many people are staking claims again in the Klondike and using metal detectors to search along creekbeds for gold missed the first time around.

Amongst some flowers up on the ridge, the open tundra beyond

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The Yukon River Campground

Posted by Stella on Saturday Jul 2, 2011

June 28th, after the ferry, we went to stay at a campground right across the river. There were a few down sides to it. First, there were only outhouses, not bathrooms. Second, there weren’t any hookups at all. Third, there were tons of mosquitoes.

On the playground

But there was a playground, even if it was small and there were millions of mosquitoes. And the outhouses had strawberry-scented air fresheners. My sisters and I had fun on the playground until I played so hard that the calluses on my hands started bleeding. Then we went inside, and went to bed. I slept great to wake up early in the morning and set off for the journey to Alaska.

Looking for peregrine falcons on the cliffs across the river

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Crossing the Yukon River on the Ferry

Posted by Ana on Saturday Jul 2, 2011

We were waiting in line behind another RV. A guy flipped his sign to slowly board the ferry. The ferry started moving. It was sorta cool. When we got to the other side, off went the RV, into the campground.

Riding the Dawson City Ferry across the Yukon River

Then we went to a playground at the campground. We were playing on the tire swing and stuff and it was very fun but there were a lot of mosquitoes. So we just tried to avoid them, those dreadful mosquitoes.

I learned that the female mosquitoes are the ones that bite. The male mosquito is the one that doesn’t bite. They lay their eggs in puddles. They suck our blood and use it to feed their dreadful babies.

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The Little Ferry

Posted by Stella on Saturday Jul 2, 2011

June 28th, we went across the Yukon River. In the RV.

There’s no bridge across the Yukon River. Yet, we went across in the RV. Guess how that works? Well, we took a boat.

Boarding the Dawson City Ferry to cross the Yukon River

We drove down to the line to get on the boat. When it was our turn, the man wearing bright yellow and orange waved us on. We slowly, carefully, drove on to the ferry. Before I knew it, we were moving. But the current of the river was so strong that it took much longer than we expected. That was fine, though, because unlike the plain old cars, we can go to the bathroom and eat dinner if we’re stuck in traffic or whatever.

We finally made it across the river, and then we got to travel on. But the big ferry is yet to come.

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The Four Mooses

Posted by Ana on Friday Jul 1, 2011

June 28 we drove on the demester hiwy and saw some mooses. AND EVEN A BABBY ONE!!!. At first the baby looked like a log but it wasn’t. It was bright orange. The mom looked like a mom moose. We saw touw moms i din’t see oue only my perentse saw it we saw a bow moose. We sat and watched the boy moose for a long time. He had really big horns with velvet on them. Dad saw him pick up one of his back legs, turn his head, and scratch the back of his head, between his horns. And on way bacck we saw a bold egol. AND on the way back me and dady tock a walk an the tonda. There were a lot of green bushes with red and green plants on the ground. It was so muddy and buppy on the demeseter highway that the RV was coverd with mudd.
(Mom helped me a bit with my typing)

Dad and I walked out onto this rocky ridge in the tundra

Editor’s translation:
June 28 we drove on the Dempster Highway and saw some mooses. AND EVEN A BABY ONE!!!. At first the baby looked like a log but it wasn’t. It was bright orange. The mom looked like a mom moose. We saw two mom mooses. I didn’t see one of them, only my parents saw it. We saw a boy moose. We sat and watched the boy moose for a long time. He had really big horns with velvet on them. Dad saw him pick up one of his back legs, turn his head, and scratch the back of his head, between his horns. And on way back we saw a bald eagle. AND on the way back, me and Daddy took a walk on the tundra. There were a lot of green bushes with red and green plants on the ground. It was so muddy and bumpy on the Dempster Highway that the RV was coverd with mud.

The result of driving the Dempster Highway

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The Dempster Highway

Posted by Van on Friday Jul 1, 2011

June 28 started with a long, overnight thunderstorm. We awoke to rain, clouds, and mud. Our plan for the day had been to leave Dawson City and make our way across the “Top of the World” Highway to Alaska, which we had heard was incredible, offering mountaintop views out over the tundra and mountains to the north, the river valleys to the south. But, it would be a crime to drive such a beautiful highway in the clouds. So, Plan B. Plan B was to work a full day and depart the next, which had a nice, sunny forecast. But lightning during the night had knocked out the cell phone tower. Apparently there is only one phone tower in the Klondike, and it provides all phone and internet services for a huge region. We were told that it could be a week before service was restored, and the nearest town with internet and phone would likely be Whitehorse, six hours south. Hmm, Plan C was beginning to look like a day of card games and mud castles.

But then Jean came running from the crowded campground office and urged me to come talk to a guy about the Dempster Highway. The Dempster runs north from Dawson, up through a large territorial park, across the arctic circle into the Northwest Territories, and ends in a river delta near the Arctic Ocean. It is a long, long packed-dirt road, and we had ruled it out early on for traveling with the RV. Anyway, this guy had just made the trip up and back, and we talked about the road conditions and the scenery along the lower stretch of the road, about what a big family with a big RV and a crappy Plan C might be able to do in a day-trip up the Dempster.

So we unloaded all the bicycles to save them the beating they would take on the dirt road. We gassed up the camper and off we headed for the Dempster Highway.

At the beginning of the Dempster Hwy

It took several hours to make it up into Tombstone Territorial Park, and the scenery was fantastic, even in the clouds and rain. The road went up a glacial mountain valley, alongside streams and wetlands. A low pine forest covered the valley floor, much like we had seen all throughout the Dawson area. Then we crossed the (Pacific/Arctic) continental divide and entered the sub-arctic tundra. The trees disappeared and the ground was covered with chest-high bushes and shrubs. Everything was green (except for the very-blue snow here and there), and everything was much more alive than I would have guessed for the frozen north.

The seemingly bare mountains were amazing. And there were critters, many critters. But I will leave that story for Luciana.

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