Chatanika Lodge and Alaska Pipeline

We have a new realtor to sell the house in North Pole.   Most of the other business is finished.   Now we get to be tourists.   From Fairbanks we drive north toward Fox.   This is a great place to see the Alaska Pipeline, and maybe even touch it.   This sign tells about the pipeline.

Route of the Alaska Pipeline

As you can see, it is 800 miles long, transporting crude oil from Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to Valdez Marine Terminal, eventally shipped from the Pacific Ocean to ports around the world.  I, Zeb the Duck, and mom have been here before, and so has Alaska native, Eider Duck.   This is the first time for Soapy Smith Duck, his mom and his dog, Chloe.

Soapy’s mom and dog, Chloe, and the Colorado Traveling Ducks under the pipeline.

Chloe and mom are under the pipeline, with we ducks.  The pipeline is tall enough for a large Alaskan moose to easily walk under it.   The moose and other large animals migrate through parts of Alaska that now have a pipeline.  Some times the pipeline is above ground and sometimes the pipeline is below ground.

Sometimes pipeline is underground

There were no other tourists here, so Chloe had a great time running and frolicking along the pipeline.

Chloe running along pipeline

The pipeline carries hot oil, about 100 degrees F at this location.   To keep the pipeline clean, pigs are put inside the pipe.

Old and newer pigs to clean inside the AlaskaPipeline.

At first they needed to scrape wax from the pipe.   Now there is less wax but they smooth the flow by reducing turbulence inside the pipeline.   The pipeline averages 1.5 million barrels of oil daily.   The entire trip for a barrel of oil takes 11.9 days, starting at Prudhoe Bay and ending in Valdez.   We drive to Chatanika Lodge.

Chatanika Lodge

This is a great place.   There are rooms to spend a few nights, a good restaurant and bar.   Ron and Shirley, the owners, also have great Alaskan decor with an additional room featuring an old classic car and an older Harley.

Vintage car and Harley

Ron and Shirley host great parties here.

One of the many parties held here

Eider and his dad came here for New Year’s Eve parties and for Chatanika Days, the first weekend in March.   Celebrating longer days and the promise of a warmer spring and summer is important.   Also popular is the Halloween party.   Eider’s dad loved this lodge and the great parties.   Everyone has fun here.   Eider’s dad was also a sportsman, so when he passed away, we asked Ron and Shirley to display some hunting and fishing trophies.   Here is his salmon.

Eider’s dad’s salmon

This buffalo or bison head was the result of a Colorado hunting trip.

Eider’s buffalo head

And our favorite.

Eider’s bear

This is an Alaska bear.   This bear stood in the living room of his house in North Pole, Alaska.   Soapy’s mom likes the bear.

Eider’s bear and Soapy’s mom

These mounts are enjoying the parties at Chatanika now.

Ron. Owner of Chatanika Lodge and our friend

Thanks for taking care of them Ron and Shirley.

 

Still Diving North. Still Daily Snow with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Yesterday’s snow and icy roads, the worst of the trip has ended.  We arrived at Haines Junction, in the Canadian Yukon.

Haines Junction, Yukon. Love the sign

And yes, you can drive to the Alaskan port city of Haines from here.   But we did not.   We are trying to get to Fairbanks or North Pole, Alaska to hire a new realtor.   Our motel in Haines Junction was very comfortable and had a good bar and restaurant nearby.

Alcan Motel in Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, Canada

So we were all happy.   We ordered our dinner and ate in our rooms.   We were exhausted.    Refreshed after a good night’s sleep, driving north, we met a new friend.

Canadian grizzly bear

This Canadian grizzly bear was too busy grazing to pay much attention to us, but we sure admired him.   That bump on his back is typical of grizzly bears, or so says our guidebook.  They can be ferious, but he looks so sweet and hugable.   This partially frozen lake caught our attention.

A winter wonderland

We love to see the winter landscape.   We just don’t love the cold.   Driving past Canadian customs, we have arrived in Alaska, USA.   There are several monuments and signs here.   The Welcome to Alaska.   Looking the other direction, the Welcome to the Yukon, and this friendship bench.

Friendship bench

Canada and the United States have been friends for years, so this bench is a nice place to pause and enjoy the view.   The International Boundary Post shows the actual border, marked by the suveyors.  Before the Alaska Highway, the borders were not so clearly marked.  We quicky cleared US customs and we continued north toward Delta Junction.

Delta Junction, Alaska. Official end of he Alaska Highway

This milepost in Delta Junction marks the official end of the Alaska Highway.  From here there is a main road heading south to Anchorage and Valdez.  Valdez is the end of the Alaska Pipeline, which carries oil from the fields of Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to Port Valdez on the east side of Prince William Sound.   Here ships wait to carry crude oil into the Pacific Ocean and to various world ports.   Also at Delta Junction, you can drive on the Richardson Highway and go north to Fairbanks.   That is the route we drove.   We were in Delta Junction the first week of May and the Visitor’s Center was not yet open.   Many businesses along our route are only open during the warmer months.   At the Delta Junction Visitor’s Center they have lots of information signs outside.   And this statue of a giant mosquito.   Alaska does have giant mosquitos.   But since the center is not yet open, this mosquito is not yet in its best form.   This photo from last year shows what the mosquito will look like soon.

Mosquitos.

Well, we are only hours away from our next hotel in Fairbanks.

Heading north to Fairbanks, Alaska

Heading down the road, we will reach our Fairbanks destination tonight.

Driving North to Alaska with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

That’s right.   We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, two humans and one dog drove back to North Pole, Alaska.   We were gone for over a month and had a great time.   We needed to interview and choose a new realtor in North Pole, Alaska.   We have mom’s brother’s house that needs to be sold, so we drove directly to North Pole.   That is a town near Fairbanks, Alaska.   Not much stopping on the way north, but we do have a few things to show you along the way.   First photo stop was in Dawson Creek, Alaska.

Beginning of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, B.C. Canada

This is the official  beginning of the Alaska Highway, or the Alcan (Alaska Canadian highway.)   Here we are at the official beginning.   Nearby is an older sign post, covered with stickers from earlier travelers.

Sign with stickers from previous travelers

And we don’t want to forget the statue of the surveyor.

Honoring the surveyors

Surveyors were very important during the building of this highway.   Soapy Smith Duck’s mom and Soapy’s dog, Chloe, are wandering around near the Visitor’s Center in Dawson Creek.

Dawson Creek

But we are a little concerned.   Chloe, our traveling dog, is part pit bull, and Dawson Creek and other Canadian cities have restriction for pit bulls.   We are not sure if part pit bull will be a problem, but we won’t stay long in towns with these restrictions.   Chloe is in the blue Jeep and ready to go.

Chloe is ready to leave Dawson Creek

As we drove north, with the exception of the day we left Denver, we had snow every day.   Some days just a little, and a couple days quite a snow storm took place.   We spent one night here at Northern Rockies Lodge.

Welcome to Northern Rockies Lodge

This is a beautiful log building on the scenic Muncho Lake.

Northern Rockies Lodge

The dining room looks through the trees and onto Muncho Lake.

Dining room with windows and a beautiful view

Today, May 2, the lake is frozen.

Muncho Lake is frozen

We will return here in 2 1/2 weeks and we were amazed at the difference.   But more about that later.  On this road trip there are three of the Colorado Traveling Ducks.  We are me, Zeb the Duck, Soapy Smith Duck and Eider Duck.   Eider Duck lived most of his life in Alaska, so he was very eager to return for a visit.    Closer to the lodge, Chloe and Soapy’s mom arrived up the path from the Muncho Lake.   We didn’t drive very far today.   We spent most of the morning and early afternoon enjoying walking around the lake and soaking in the wintery scenery.   We love Northern Rockies Lodge.

Driving the Alaska Highway with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Ready to drive the Alaska Highway?   Here, in Delta Junction, Alaska, the Alaska Highway, or Alcan (Alaska Canada Highway) officially ends.

Alaska Canada Highway

But for us, it is just beginning.

Ready to start on Alaska Highway

We bought this blue Jeep from Eider’s dad’s estate near Fairbanks.  Now we are driving it home to Colorado.   Yesterday Eider and I took Soapy and his mom to Santa’s House and then to the Knotty Shop.   This morning our first stop is the Visitor’s Center in Delta Junction.

Welcome Center and gift shop

Those are gold dredge buckets in front of the building, by the flower pots.  This is also a gift shop.   Great wood plaques.

Lots of wood

Outside we saw these giant mosquitos.

Mosquitos.

Again, Alaska has big mosquitos, but thankfully, not this huge.   This is the official start of the Alaska Highway for our trip.

Alaska Highway

Our adventure begins.   Now the highway is paved all the way.   Didn’t used to be paved.   Really hard on tires and windshields then.   We are told there are enough gas stations, but always stop.   The next one might be closed.   Several campgrounds and some motels.  A couple times we quickly stopped as huge Alaskan moose crossed the road.   They were too quick for us to get cameras.  The terrain was hilly with mountains to the south, toward Valdez and the end of the TransAlaskan Pipeline.   Best part was only seeing another vehicle every 15-30 minutes.   So peaceful.  About 200 miles (500 km) from Delta Junction, we reached the Canadian border.   We will enter Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Welcome to Canada’s Yukon Territory

This is the first time for us ducks to visit Canada.   The humans were here before we joined the family.   We are sitting on the Friendship Bench.

Friendship Bench

Americans and Canadians are friends.   We see the International Boundary stake, showing the 20 foot (6 meter) path cut by surveyors from 1904 to 1920 along the 141st meridian.

International boundary

And for those entering Alaska, this sign is a must stop.

Welcome to Alaska

Of course, we had to sit under this sign also.  Isn’t this a beautiful lake, and at the international border.

Love the lake near international boundary

We love these views.   Driving another 10 miles, we stop at the official customs station.   The official was very nice and efficient.   We decided to stop in the first Canadian town.   This is Beaver Creek.   Our Alaska travel planner, The Milepost, says Beaver Creek is the most westerly Canadian community.   This is our motel, 1202 Motor Inn.

Our motel 1202 Motor Inn

Soapy and his mom like the room totally dark for sleeping.   That is hard to do with the long summer days.   There are only a few hours of darkness in the summer.   Mom and I like more windows and some light.   Soapy had a room in the front, with no windows.   Mom and I had a room in the back with windows.

Our room

This is actually a trailer attached to the building.   We were all happy.  Looking across the street, we loved these snow covered mountains.

From front of our hotel

After walking around town, then eating dinner, we slept really well.   Tomorrow we will see more of the Canadian Yukon.

Discovery Riverboat Tour, Fairbanks, Alaska with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

I, Zeb the Duck, had a great surprise last night.   Soapy Smith Duck and his mom flew to Alaska to be with us.   That is wonderful.   Today, I, Zeb, Eider and Soapy Smith Duck, took our two humans on a three hour riverboat tour.   Before getting on the riverboat, we had to look through the gift shop.   In reality, the moms were getting cold.   It was about 50 F (10 C) and the wind along the river was rather chilly.   They had long sleeves and light weight jackets, but they were still cold.   We ducks think they just wanted new jackets.   But, even that is fine.   Of course they bought jackets and we looked around.   Alaska is famous for dog sled racing, and a woman, Susan Butcher was a famous racer.   We loved this display dedicated to her.

Dog sled with photo of Susan Butcher

We will tell you more about Susan later.   Well, time to get on our riverboat.

Riverboat Discovery III

This is Riverboat Discovery III.   One of the few sternwheeler boats in use.   We love the paddlewheel in the back.   The information says there are 20 paddles turned by hydraulic motors.   We will show you later.  Shortly after beginning our cruise on the Chena River, we watched a small plane take off on the river.   He circled the area and then, with pontoons, landed on the river.   In Alaska, and most of the Arctic, small planes are the way to travel.   The harsh climate makes building and maintaining roads very difficult.  Our first stop was the dog kennels now owned by Susan Butcher’s daughter, Tekla.   Sure a pretty place.

Tekla, daughter of Susan Butcher talks about her sled dogs

Susan Butcher won the Iditarod Race 4 times.   This is the famous dog sled race from Anchorage, Alaska to Nome, Alaska 1,100 miles away.  Susan passed away August 5, 2006 after a battle with leukemia.   Tekla explains that the dogs want to run.   They will pull that 4 wheeler around the kennel area.   We watch more of the run, but some is just too far out of our view.   We were not allowed to get off the boat.   And this is dog training?

Tekla and young dogs

Tekla says the young dogs are learning to socialize.   Also they are learning commands.   It looks like fun playing on the muddy riverbank.   It is nice that training can also be fun.  Continuing along the river, we come to the meeting of the Chena River and the Tanana River.

Meeting of Chena and Tanana Rivers

These rivers are tributaries for the Yukon River.   Isn’t this a pretty place?  In 1898 Charles M. Binkley hiked over Chilkoot Pass with other stampeders during the gold rush.   However, he was not particularly looking for gold, he wanted to chart and navigate the Yukon River and its tributaries.   Now, over 100 years and 5 generations of the Binkley family are offering very popular riverboat tours.   Our next stop, is Chena Indian Village.   While still on the boat, this lady, an Athabaskan Indian, shows us how to prepare salmon for the drying racks.

Salmon cut and ready for drying racks

Skinned, filleted, cut or scored, and ready for the drying racks now.

Salmon drying

She made it look so easy.   We get off Discovery III, our riverboat, and explore this village.   This is a fish wheel.

Fish wheel

The fish swim into the turning wheel and get caught.   This is easier that using an actual fishing pole.   The Athabaskans only catch and keep what they need.   During the long Arctic winters people may get lost or delayed while traveling.   This is a cache.   Notice that it is too high for animals to get inside.

Cache

It keeps necessary supplies for whom ever needs them.   Also, the cache is supplied by the owner for his own travels.   If you use something from the cache, try to replace it when you can for the next person.   Remember these winters have long nights and short days.   Temperatures of -40 (same for F and C) are not uncommon.   People help each other to survive these harsh conditions.   Of course in the summer, the days are long and the nights very short. In Fairbanks, in late June, there are 3 or less hours of darkness.   While in Chena Indian Village, we were taught some of the ways of the Athabaskan Indians.   We met the reindeer.

Reindeer

This reindeer are kept in a large enclosure for us to see.   They receive a healthy diet and are well cared for.   These are samples of fur pelts.

Fur pelts

These furs are very warm and necessary during the cold winters.   Here is a young lady wearing a very warm fur coat.

Athabaskan Indian girl in warm, decorative fur coat

Much work goes into making this coat and it is certainly well cared for and a prize possession.  Our last stop was the gift shop.  This is a statue of Granite.

Granite. Lead sled dog

Granite was the runt of the dog litter, but Susan Butcher saw great potential in him.  Granite became her lead sled dog and Granite lead her team to four wins in the Iditarod Dog Sled Race.   Discovery III is waiting to take us back to the starting point and to our cars.

Our boat, Discovery III, waiting for us

That is a great paddlewheel.   This a great boat tour.   When in Fairbanks we hope you enjoy this trip.   We loved it.

The Knotty Shop With Zeb and Eider Duck. Only in Alaska

It is time for a little shopping in an unusual store.   This is The Knotty Shop in Salcha, Alaska. Follow the Richardson Highway south from Fairbanks to Salcha and you will discover The Knotty Shop.   Founded in 1989 to showcase Alaskan made gift items, this is a great store.

The Knotty Shop.  We are by a moose head.

The posts and animals in front of the store are made of knotty pine.   Alaska has giant mosquitoes, but we are glad they are not really this big.

Giant mosquito

That stinger could kill humans and small ducks.

animal

There are a few animals carved here.

animal

Even if the store wasn’t fascinating, and it is, these animals of knotty pine would make us enter this shop.  Toward the back of the store, we enjoyed this mountain with Alaska’s animals.

Animals of Alaska

We Colorado Traveling Ducks have seen most of these alive while exploring Alaska.   The sock displays always intrigue mom.

Sock display

We have some of these socks at home now.

Ulu Knives

The Ulu knife of Alaska is handy for chopping and cutting.   This is a nice display with many choices for Ulu purchasing.  Hungry?

Alaskan made jams, jellies and sausage.

If you weren’t these jams and jellies will tease your taste buds.   And the sausage is flavorful.   Go ahead and indulge.   They are delicious.   These painted gold pans and saw blades are useful and decorative.

Painted gold pans and saw blades

We have gold pans and gold mining in Colorado, but we love these pans with Alaska scenes.   After a hard afternoon of shopping, we needed some ice cream.

We love ice cream

Of course, mom bought her favorite, mint chocolate chip.   It is our favorite also.   Sitting on the knotty pine picnic tables eating Alaska made ice cream was a great end to our shopping trip.

Zeb and Eider Duck Visit Nenana, Alaska

Driving south from Fairbanks on the Parks Highway, Nenana captured our attention.   Driving over the Alaska Native Veterans’ Honor Bridge, we stopped near the Visitor’s Center.   A sign explained that this bridge was dedicated to Native Alaskans, Eskimo and Indian, that fought in the wars for the United States.

Memorial Bridge over Tanana River. Entering Nenana, Alaska

A great cause and a great bridge.    Another sign and statue was dedicated to The Alaska Territorial Guard.

Alaska Territorial Guard

The sign referred to the years 1942-1947.   Here is a wooden tug boat, Taku Chief.

Taku Chief

Taku Chief was one of the last wooden tugs used on inland Alaskan rivers.   The wooden tug was designed by H. C. Hanson and launched by Olson and Sunde Marine Works in 1938.   Taku Chief was retired here, in Nenana, in 1978.  Further into town we visited the  Alaska Railroad Museum.

Train station and Alaska Railroad Mseum

The railroad depot was completed in 1923, the same year that Presiden Warren Harding arrived here to drive the final golden spike, near the bridge, to commemorate the completion of the railroad between Anchorage and Nenana.   Near the train station is the site of the Nenana Ice Classic.

Nenana Ice Classic

Every spring there is a huge contest to predict the exact month, day, hour, minute and second of the ice break up on the Tanana River.   This tripod, attached to a clock, sits on the ice.   When the tripod moves, the ice has melted enough and the  winner of the spring classic is declared.  The winner wins several thousand US dollars.   One of the oldest buildings in Nenana, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was built in 1905.

St.Mark’s Episcopal Church

The inside is beautiful.

Inside St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

In the early years, school was held here also.    Continuing through town, we stopped at the cultural center.

Nenana Cultrual Center

We watched some young boys practicing on drums.   The next building really called to us.

Bakery

Bakeries are always good.   We saw large cinnamon rolls with carmel topping.

Fresh, hot cinammon roll. Delicious!

The lady told us those were baked yesterday.   She would go upstairs to get a fresher one.   The baker sent her downstairs to get oven mits for our roll.   You can’t get baked goods any fresher!   And it was delicious.  After savoring our roll, we walked behind the bakery and admired the boats on the bank of the Tanana River.

Boat on bank of Tanana River

We really liked Nenana and will stop here if we are ever in the area again.   It would be nice to see you there also.