Leaving Fairbanks and Alaska with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are heading home??  What?? There is so much more to see.   We ducks do not want to go home yet.   Our moms say, don’t worry.   We will stop often on the way home to see different things than last year.   And a few of our favorites that we want to experience again.   OK.  Leaving Chena Hot Springs, our first stop is Salcha, Alaska at The Knotty Shop.

The Knotty Shop.

This is a great store, featuring items made in Alaska.   The name, Knotty Shop, comes from the knots or bumps (burls) on the trees.   Last year we stopped here so you can read more about it in older posts.   This year we purchased some clothing, t-shirts, sweats, and socks.   Also another Ulu knife.   A hand carved wooden basket, jewelry, Alaskan made jam and, of course, ice cream cones.  Lots of time shopping, so we spent the night at Alaska Steakhouse and Motel in Delta Junction, Alaska.

Alaska Steakhouse and Motel in Delta Junction, Alaska

At Delta we officially began driving on the Alaska Highway.

Heading southeast on Alaska Highway toward Canada

Beautiful scenery as we head toward the Canadian Yukon Territory.   We stopped at roadside rest areas often.

Roadside pullout. Great areas for walking and enjoying scenery.

Stopped to appreciate the breathtaking views.   Also, Chloe likes to get out of the car and do a little exploring.   So do the humans.   While driving, as we completed a curve in the road we startled a black bear and he ran down a path into the woods.   He was so cute to watch.   Of course, too fast to get a photo.   We arrived in Tok, Alaska, the last Alaskan town on the Alaska Highway.

Burnt Paw gift shop. Tok, Alaska

Our first stop was the Burnt Paw.   This is a great gift shop, a snack area, motel with cabins, and source of eqipment for dog sleds.

Tok, Alaska. Burnt Paw

Isn’t this a great dog sled at the store entrance?  More shopping.  Souvenirs, gifts and treats for Chloe.   Next stop in Tok was Fast Eddies.

Fast Eddies in Tok, Alaska

We stopped for food and it was delicious.   Since it was Mother’s Day, Fast Eddies was treating mothers to free dessert cupcakes.

Mother’s Day complementary dessert from Fast Eddie

We had Red Velvet and Lemon Meringue cupcakes.   Very tasty and we enjoyed them.   Thanks Fast Eddie!  Continuing toward the Yukon, we crossed the Tanana River a few times.

Tanana River in Alaska

We like this river.   You may remember last June we rode on the Tanana River while on Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks.  We have arrived in the Yukon.

Enter Canada’s Yukon Territory

We cleared US and Canadian customs.   We stayed in Beaver Creek in the Yukon.   Beaver Creek RV and Motel was our home for the night.  Camping is a very popular way to travel but we prefer to stay in hotels.   At the campground we did enjoy these carved statues of early pioneers.

Historic figures in campground

The Visitor’s Center is across the street.

Yukon Visitor’s Center

The lady there was very friendly.   She even invited Chloe, Soapy Smith Duck’s dog, to come inside.  She likes dogs and told us about her sled dogs.   She told us much about Beaver Creek now and about Beaver Creek in the past.   Very interesting.   She suggested we stop at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church built around quonset hut

Isn’t it a quaint little church?   This church was built around a quonset hut left over from the days of the Alaska Highway construction.   Please take a little time to explore any town you visit.   We always find some interesting and unexpected things.

Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs, Alaska with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Today is a nice day, in the 50’s, but we are going into the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs, near Fairbanks, Alaska.   Chena Hot Springs, located 60 miles from Fairbanks, is a year round destination.   Today we will show you the Aurora Ice Museum.

Aurora Ice Museum

Made of over 1,000 tons of ice and snow, all havested at the resort, the Aurora Ice Museum opened in January 2005 and is still frozen.   You can visit with a guide only and the inside temperature is 25 degrees F (-7 degrees C).   For much of the year, inside the Aurora Ice Museum is warmer than the outside temperature.   Our guide opened the door, admitting us and our group to a small room.   Here we put on parkas, free for our visit inside.   Opening the next door, we are ready to go inside.

Entering through second door

There are many ice sculptures.

Ice sculpture

Most of them are lit, colors reminding us of the Aurora, or Northern Lights, visible only in the winter.   The lights in the sky are not visible in the summer, as it does not get dark enough.  The interior ice walls are also carved.

Interior ice wall

The walls, everything within the museum and the museum itself are all made of ice.   There are many ice sculptures.

Ice sculpture. Jousting

Jousting forms in ice here.   Face of ice.

Ice sculpture

Inside the ice museum are a few bedrooms to rent.

Entrance to bedroom

Let’s enter one of the rooms.  Intricate bed.

Ice bedroom

Yes, that really is a bed made of ice.   Lots of furs and blankets needed to sleep here.

Another bedroom. Ice bed

And another room.

Ice bed in different light

Let’s see this bed without the effect of colored lights.  We loved seeing this place, but we don’t want to sleep here.   It could be exciting, but we think it might be too cold for small ducks.   Heading back toward the entrance, we stop at the ice bar.

Aurora bar with ice bar stools.

Of course the bar is of ice.   The bar stools also are ice, but with fur cushions for more comfortable sitting.   Appletinis are available from the bar.   They are served in these ice glasses.

Martini glass made of ice. Yours with purchase of martini

You purchase the drink and the glass is yours.   To leave, we must be escorted back to the small room where we return our parkas, and then out the front door.   The Aurora Ice Museum is fascinating, but pretty cold.   The doors must be kept locked at all times to insure the proper temperature to preserve the ice.   There are world recognized ice sculpturers on staff here.   They are usually making new sculptures and also making many ice glasses.  You really should see this when you are in the area.   This is a great Alaska place to see.

Chena Hot Springs, Alaska with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Chena Hot Springs, discovered in 1905, is about 60 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska.

Chena Hot Springs Resort

The resort at the hot springs has so much to offer guests.   After leaving Fairbanks, we decided to spend a couple days here.   The main attraction for us was sitting in the hot water.

Entrance to hot springs pool and hot springs rock lake

This is the entrance to the hot springs indoor pool.   In the pool area you can access hot tubs.   If you forgot, swimming suits and pool sandals are for sale at reasonable prices.   Also, follow the enclosed walkway to an outdoor hot tub and to our favorite, the rock lake.

Hot Springs Rock Lake

The water in the rock lake varies from about 103 degrees to 106 degrees.   Move around the lake and you will find your perfect temperature.   We loved sitting in the lake.   We saw a couple reindeer on the surrounding mountain side.   There are other activities for guests.   You can join an ATV tour.

ATV tours here

ATVs are fun.  Younger humans enjoy this playground.

Playground for small humans

And this tower of antlers is so Alaskan.

Antlers

We enjoy seeing things that are not in our yard in Colorado.   It is difficult and expensive to find good fresh vegetables here most of the year.

Greenhouse. Fresh salads were delicious

So the resort uses this greenhouse and garden to grow most of their own vegetables.   Our fresh salads were delicious.   Near the greenhouse the ducks enjoy a small pond.

Ducks by pond and greenhouse

We love seeing our feathered relatives when we travel.  There are many trails to hike, a location for gold panning, two souvenir shops, a snack shop and a restaurant.

Creek through resort

We enjoyed this creek passing through our resort.   Guests can stay in the main lodge, in multi room cabins, or yurts.   Camping sites are also available.   We stayed in a cabin.

Our cabin. Number 98

We were cabin 98.   Soapy, Chloe and their mom stayed in a front room.   Mom and I stayed in a rear room.   We liked the yurts.

Yurt with really tall trees

Aren’t these trees tall?  From our cabin window we could see a wild, wooded area.

Pretty pond

The path through the area took us to this small lake.   Also a few reindeer, or caribou, lived here.

Reindeer or caribou at Chena Hot Springs resort

This is a protected area for the wildlife.   In May it was still rather chilly.

Stilll partially frozen in May

This lake had not thawed yet.   We liked the snow and ice on part of the lake.   But, it was spring in the far north and although the ice and snow were not all gone, there were many hours of daylight.   Sunrise was 4:43 a.m. and sunset was 10:54 p.m.   Even after midnight, there was not total darkness.   One night we stayed in the hot springs rock lake until after 10:00 pm and it was very light.   It is a little difficult to adjust to so many hours of daylight in the summer.  At the lightest, in late June, sunrise is 2:53 a.m. and sunset at 12:37 p.m.   It never gets really dark.   But, remember in the December they have many hours of darkness.   In several areas of the resort there are benches for guests to sit and enjoy the scenery.

Carved bench

Some of these benches are very ornate.  We love the carved wooden benches.   In the winter, this is a great area to view the Aurora, or the Northern Lights.   Also fun to ride on a dog sled through the snow and wooded areas.  Chena Hot Springs is a great year round resort.

Fairbanks, Alaska for a Day with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Finally we have a day to explore Fairbanks.   We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, have spent too much time doing business with the humans.   But now, they say we have a day to explore a little of Fairbanks.   Originally the Alaska Highway, or Alcan (Alaska Canadian) Highway ended in Fairbanks.   This milepost marks the former end of the highway.

Alaska Highway Milepost, Fairbanks

The highway was built after Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii was bombed on December 7, 1941, by Japan.   That action brought the United States into World War II.   Hawaii was a territory then, as was Alaska.   We realized that Alaska was also vulnerable to attack, with no means to get military help to Alaska.   Canada and the United States decided to build a road for military access.   This helped the US and also Canada.   They also needed a road to their Yukon Territory.   As you know, now the official end of the road is in Delta Junction, with a choice of continuing to either Fairbanks or Anchorage.   Near this milepost is the Yukon Quest museum and shop.

Yukon Quest museum and store

The Yukon Quest is a winter dog sled race between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Canadian Yukon Territory.     This was an interesting place to visit.   The humans each bought shirts and other small souvenirs.   Also nearby is Golden Heart Plaza.

Golden Heart Plaza, Fairbanks

This is a great place to learn about some Alaskan people and also to rest and relax.   Fairbanks is called the Golden Heart of Alaska.   This statue is surrounded by informational plaques.

In Golden Heart Plaza

We enjoyed stopping here.   Everything is on the banks of the Chena River, which runs through Fairbanks.   Here we see the Interior Alaska Antler Arch.

Antler Arch, Fairbanks

This is the world’s farthest north Antler Arch. The arch has 2 concrete columns and a steel beam to hold the antlers.   There are over 100 moose and caribou antlers from all over the interior of Alaska.   Next we visited the Great Alaskan Bowl Company.

Let’s go inside

They specialize is bowls made of Alaskan birch.

Birch bowls

But there are many other Alaskan souvenirs here also.

Big variety

Visitors can look through a huge glass wall and craftsmen at work.   The Great Alaskan Bowl Company should be a stop during your time in Fairbanks.   We bought one bowl, made from Alaskan birch.

Our bowl

We love it.   Also the humans purchasesd Alaskan jams, oils and other small gifts and souvenirs.  The photos of the Great Alaskan Bowl Company are their photos.  We took them from their website.   We then met our Alaskan relatives at Brewster’s downtown restaurant, and had a great dinner and excellent conversation.   Mom loves Brewster’s.

Inside Brewster’s Restaurant in Fairbanks, Alaska

She always orders halibut.   And it is delicious.   We had a wonderful day in Fairbanks.   Remember we were there in early May, so many attractions were not yet open.   The Riverboat Discovery was opening the weekend after we left.

Our boat, Discovery III, waiting for us

We did ride on this paddleboat last year.   Another great thing to do in Fairbanks.   Pioneer Park has a large salmon bake during the summer, but they had not yet opened.  They have nice stores with local products there, also.   Another place to visit in Fairbanks is the Ice Museum.   Mom was there years ago.   There are incredible ice sclptures inside.  A really cold place, but worth a visit.   Also not yet opened.  When you visit Fairbanks, we hope you see many of these attractions.   Enjoy some truly Alaskan experiences.

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.

Yukon Transportation Museum with Colorado Traveling Ducks

A short walk and here we are at the Yukon Transportation Museum.

Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse

After paying our admission fee, we wandered through the gift shop.   Soon you will see what we bought.   Focusing on transportation here, we immediately were attracted to this canoe.

A canoe. Introducing Yukon Duck

Yes, there are now 4 Colorado Traveling Ducks.   Our newest addition is an engineer for the train, but we call him Yukon Duck.  During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the train connected Whitehorse on the Yukon River with Skagway, Alaska.

Train between Whitehorse, YT and Skagway, Alaska

Skagway is a little over 100 miles away and is a seaport.   Miners needed to get supplies and gold was often shipped out of Alaska.   Here is an early car for the Yukon Territory.

Early car

Most of the year it is winter here, so travel was done by sled.

Sled for traveling

Conditions were not safe for travel if the temperature was -40 (the same temperature for F and C).   How to know if it was too cold?  A bottle of Perry Davis Pain Killer was placed outside by the window.   If the bottle became frozen, it was “too damn cold for man or beast.”  We ducks don’t want to be out when it is -40.   There is more than one famous dog sled race in the area.   This sled is from the Yukon Quest.

Sled for Yukon Quest

The race is between Whitehorse, YT and Fairbanks, Alaska.  The starting point alternates between Whitehorse and Fairbanks each year.   Spectators can see the beginning one year and the finish the next.   This exhibit was something new to us.

Lost in the Yukon

Lost in the Yukon was about a plane crash in 1963 and a great survival story of two people.  These two, Ralph Flores and Helen Klaben survive for 49 days.   They endured painful injuries, starvation, weeks of -40 or colder, and the long dark Yukon winter.  In March, Ralph stomped SOS on a frozen snow covered swamp.   The SOS was seen and they were rescued March 26, 1963.   In 1975 Helen wrote a book about the survival titled, “Hey, I’m Alive”  A movie was also made in 1975.   Maybe we will watch it this winter??  In the airplane hanger, we admired many airplanes.

Planes in Yukon Transportation Museum

Flying is often the only way to travel in the far north.   We liked this helicopter, also.

Helicopter. Yukon Transportation Museum

The Yukon Transportation Museum is next to Whitehorse International Airport.

Whitehorse International Airport

We we impressed by the Plane Vane.

Plane weather vane

This sign explains it best.   A real plane with a long history and now a weather vane.   We want to show you that it really does move.   It was not very windy the day we visited, but you can see from these 2 photos that the plane did move.

Side view of plane

 

Wind moved plane

According to http://www.RoadsideAmerica.com   this is the world’s largest weather vane.  We are getting hungry.   After a great day in Whitehorse, it is time for dinner.   Klondike Rib and Salmon restaurant is next to our hotel.

Klondike Rib and Salmon

The reviews were great and the food was fantastic.   The humans ordered salmon and also halibut.   Both were very fresh and cooked to perfection.  Humans and ducks loved it.   The restaurant is housed in the 2 oldest operating buildings in the Yukon Capital.   The menu had a history of the building.  The dining room was originally opened as a tent frame bakery called, MacMillian’s Bakery around 1900.   The main building was Klondike Airways, a mail and flight business.   In the 1930’s the building was used as a carpentry shop and coffins were constructed for a mortuary in downtown Whitehorse.   Today we have this Quaint Little “Northern Klondike Theme Restaurant.”  With winters of -40, this little wall tent buttons up in the fall and goes into hibernation each year until Mother’s Day.  We ducks like menus that tell us about the restaurant, so this is a favorite with us.

Klondike Rib and Salmon tent area

There really is a tent area of this restaurant.   Great in the summer, but too cold in the winter.  This was a great day in Whitehorse, and we welcome Yukon Duck to our duck family.