Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
This summer, we opted for a road trip in the opposite direction: to Alaska by way of Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. We spent the night of June 25 in Bonner’s Ferry, ID. Gary had done some research and was under the impression that Oregon drivers’ licences are “enhanced,” meaning that they are sufficient ID to get you into Canada. So we didn’t take our passports. I’d looked up our Global Entry ID numbers, but didn’t bring the cards. The border crossing guard was very patient, and, in the end, was apparently satisfied by our ability to answer questions about when and where we were born and the other patter tha
We had our first glacier encounter that afternoon, arriving at Deer Lodge by mid-afternoon.
We had plenty of time to hike to the far end of Lake Louise and back, and then have a glass of wine in the lovely bar at Chateau Lake Louise.
We proceeded northwest the next morning and reached Athabasca Glacier by lunchtime.
That day and the next several, we saw much evidence of forestfire devastation
and wealth of natural resources.
Awesome vistas of the Northern Rockies led us to…
The beginning of the ALCAN highway, built by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
One of the soldiers working on the highway planted the first “tree” in this now dense forest in Watson Lake.
We saw wildlife at fairly close quarters. For some reason, the bears never raised their heads–at least, not while I was watching.
After a little rain on our second day, we enjoyed delightful weather and beautiful scenery, seemingly all to ourselves.
At Smith River Falls, we parked, then walked over to the trail, where I saw rangers climbing up holding onto a rope, after they cleared up something at the base of the falls.
We explored a little in Carcross, which we learned is an abbreviation for “Caribou Crossing. They built a bridge for the caribou to cross over the river. We saw no caribou, but it’s a popular place for human and canine swimmers.
Then, there we were: back in the US. We handed the Border Guard our driver’s licences. He stared at us and asked, “How did you get into Canada?” We said, “We encountered a really nice Mountie.” & got back into the US!
Skagway was terrific. We spent three nights at a B&B called At the White House, which Gary found on his own and friends confirmed that they’d stayed at and loved last year.
We were able to ignore the thousands of people pouring in each day from the three to five cruise ships that dock there. We focused on the place and the history.
On our first day, we explored town museums and hiked along the shore a little north of town.
We also went to the cemetery where notable early citizens were buried and hiked a short distance to Lower Reid Falls. After which we drove a short distance to Jewell
Gardens, which features beautiful plants, streams, a glass-blowing workshop, and a very hospitable cafe.
We focused more on hiking the next day, heading up the trail to the top of the falls which descend to the cemetery.
I’m skipping photos of the ferry we boarded to go from Skagway to Juneau on July 3. Suffice it to show that, because it stays light so long that far north, Fourth of July fireworks begin at 12:01AM on July 4. Our hotel room faced the bay off Juneau, which was the only place in Alaska where fireworks were permitted this year (because of fires that filled the air with smoke), so we were awakened by the noise and enjoyed the show.
Much later (of course) we drove and then hiked to view spectacular but frighteningly shrinking Mendenhall Glacier and nearby Nugget Falls.
We set our alarm on July 5 to wake up in time to make our 6:30AM flight to Gustavus for an all-day excursion on Glacier Bay.
It was a wonderful trip. My only regret is that I didn’t get good photos of the happy otters paddling by the boat as we moved up the bay.
The boat capt. did an excellent job of spotting wildlife, then pulling in & stopping for a closer look.
We saw whales several times, none close enough for portraiture.
The sad part was– all the glaciers are receding.
The walk around Glacier Bay Lodge was fun, and informative. Then we took the short flight back to Juneau.
We walked around town the next day, going by the Governor’s mansion, before driving out to some old mining fields for more walking.
On July 6, we re-connected the part of the Alaska Highway System that take cars from one island to another and headed to Wrangell.
The best part about going through the museum was picking up the connection with John Muir.
The next day, we hiked the trail named in his honor.
There are lots of boats & boatyards in Wrangell, and, I guess, people of lots of political persuasions
The strangest part of our walk around Ketchikan happened on our walk onto the marina docks. We saw a boat that looked similar to our own Fisher trawler. Close examination confirmed that impression; but this boat had undergone major modifications to become a commercial fishing boat.
It was all downhill after that: an overnight cruise to Bellingham–a lovely way to wrap up our exploration.