Alaska or Bust

Elsa's 50th State

and Long-Awaited Cruise

Part One - A Week on Land


Departing Orange County over the Back Bay


Half-way there... a stop in Seattle to change planes


Flying over Seattle


Approaching Anchorage


Here's a Bear Picture at the Anchorage Airport, in case we don't see a Real One.


Rush Hour in Anchorage, Friday afternoon at 4:00 PM


A Bigger, Better Bear, in case we only see a Real Small One


Eartquake Park
The Anchorage Trolley Tour bus driver hopped off and ran down the trail to show
how far the land dropped in the 1964 earthquake. This used to be level ground


Lake Hood, adjacent to Anchorage International Airport
is the world's largest floatplane base


Alaska has 8000 registered pilots... 10% of the 800,000 population
Anchorage International Airport Control Tower in the background


Lake Hood, seen from the air


Papa Bear and Mama Bear
Baby Bear Missing in Action


How to Make a Person Really Happy
Fireweed-Honey Ice Cream, an Alaskan Specialty
Saturday Farmer's Market, Anchorage


How to Make another Person Really Happy
Salmon Quesadilla !! and a nip of Peter's ice cream cone
Saturday Farmer's Market, Anchorage


The Alaska Railroad Office
The Locomotive was built in 1907. It hauled dirt at the Panama Canal
and later hauled freight in Alaska until 1953


There's no shortage of Bears in Anchorage


Visitor Center, Palmer Alaska


Replicas of the Giant Vegetables that grow during the long summer days


A "Braided" River


Matanuska Glacier, Northeast of Palmer


The Princess Copper River Lodge
Located far from civilization, the season lasts from May to mid-September
I asked the desk clerk to recycle two days of newspaper I brought to read on the plane.
He asked if he could keep them for himself, saying he had not seen a paper in four months


The back side of the Princess Copper River Lodge


View from our room


A short section of the Alaska Pipeline snakes down the hill, top right in the picture


All these animals are related, in this case by the fact it is going
to be a long, cold winter without their fur coats.


Relaxing after the strenuous visit to the Wrangel and St. Elias Visitor Center


In keeping with the cruise tradition, the lodge was not stingy with food.
If you skip dessert, you can have two appetizers. Here's what we chose.


Our dog-sled adventure arriving after dinner
Wheels work better than runners when there isn't any snow


The dogs were eager to run


We stopped at the half-way point for a break for the dogs


Back to the starting point
If you're not the lead dog, the view never changes


John Fowler of Chugach Outfitters has been a "Musher" for 20 years


Tickle me silly


We arrived on the first day of the Christmas Season
No need to wait...
By the time December rolls around, the place will be vacant


The next morning, Sunrise at 6:00 AM


An early start on the road to Fairbanks


Summit Lake and our first view of the Alaska Range


The Alaska Range, near Summit Lake
If you Lived Here, You Would be Home Now
The poles along the road guide the snow plows


The Gulkana Glacier viewed from the Wilds Preston Richardson Monument


The Accidental Tourists visit the Gulkana Glacier
from a comfortable distance...


The pipeline runs both above and below the ground
Special construction prevents melting of the permafrost
It zigs and zags to allow the length to change with the temperature
and allow it to move slightly during an earthquake


Greetings from North Pole, Alaska


How did I get in this mess?


You can feed a reindeer at the Antler Academy for $37.00
Nothing is cheap in Alaska


Santa was unavailable to take requests
We were farmed out to a pair of snow-people.


The Iditarod is a 1000 mile dog-sled race
The lady pictured is Susan Butcher, the only woman to win the Iditarod multiple times.
Her dog, Granite, is equally famous for rising from Runt to Racer, leading four wins


After a night in Fairbanks, we boarded the Riverboat Discovery for a trip on the Chena River
The pilot of the float-plane was transmitting to the boat for all to hear about his flight demonstration


He circled the boat and landed


Then circled to return for another pass


Two Huge homes along the river
Two million dollars will get you a nice summer home


One Little home along the river


Dog Sled Demonstration
The trainer spoke by radio to the tourists on the boat


The dogs are jumping and pulling on their harnesses, ready to go
It costs $1000 per year to keep a dog, so this is a big operation


The dogs cool off in the river after their run


We spotted numerous Bald Eagles


A replica Athabaskan (natives of central alaska) village
The fellow at the table is describing (again, by radio) how salmon are
caught in the fish wheel (anchored in the river) then, cut and dried.


Cutting and Drying Salmon...


that were caught in the Fish Wheel


Yes, that's grass growing on the roof. It makes good insulation


Native Dress


One human would fit nicely inside one Grizzly Bear




We enjoyed the upper deck of the paddle-wheel steamer


Lunch with 350 of our closest friends


The Alaska Pipeline is 4 feet wide and 800 miles long
It took two years to build and began operating in 1977
It delivered 2 million barrels per day initially and about 500,000 now


Oil pushes these "Pigs" through the pipe to keep it clean
A "Plain Pig" cleans the pipe and is followed by a "Smart Pig" that scans the interior


Caribou can pass easily under the pipe


On the train to Gold Dredge 8
The floating dredge in the background is no longer used. It was operated by the
Fairbanks Exploration Company from 1928 to 1959


Our train ride stopped so panning for gold could be demonstrated


Gold is very heavy so it sinks to the bottom of the pan as the rocks are washed away.


What you get is very small flakes of yellow
It looks so easy a cave-man could do it
It's a bit harder when you try it yourself

Panning for Gold
Everybody gets a little sack of dirt, rocks and gold. You get to keep any gold you find
The gold is weighed at the exit. Peter got $12.00 worth and Elsa got $30.00
You are offered a chance to purchase a necklace to keep it in


This is what $42.00 worth of gold flakes looks like


Motors and belts bring water and gold-bearing rocks into the dredge.


Buckets bring rock in by the ton. After the gold is separated, the rocks
go out the back and the dredge moves forward. The dredge cut a 4.5-mile track
and produced 7.5 million ounces of gold


We departed Fairbanks on the Alaska Railroad train to Denali
The first thing you see upon entering the station is their model railroad room



Many hours were spent duplicating the last detail


A diesel locomotive and the "Little Engine That Could," an American fairytale
that became widely known after publication in 1930. A little steam engine
summons all its power and manages to tow a much larger train in need over the mountain


The layout would not be complete without Alaska's famous "Bridge to Nowhere," a
proposed $400 million dollar bridge to replace the ferry that currently connects the town of Ketchikan, Alaska,
with Gravina Island, an island that contains the Ketchikan International Airport as well as 50 residents


We were treated to Gold Star service


With a bar conveniently available in the Vista Lounge
and breakfast served in the dining room directly below



Passing the site of the Nenana Ice Classic
The tripod is set out on the river ice during the winter with a rope attached to a clock
When the ice breaks up in the spring and the tripod moves 100 feet, the clock is stopped
The person guessing the closest day and time wins a prize.






All the luggage you can take on the train
The big suitcases go separately by truck


Courtyard at the Denali Princess Hotel


Where would you like to go next?


The first Real Bear has yet to appear


Jade (the Alaskan State Gem) Bears, purchased the day before we entered the Denali Park, almost at the end of our land tour
The "Good Luck " charm worked... Real Bears were spotted the next day


At the Denali visitor center and museum


Anchorage, population 300,000
Fairbanks, population 30,000


Walking to the hotel restaurant for dinner


On the bus at 6:30 AM, entering Denali National Park


Moose, having breakfast in Denali Park


Here it is, Folks !! The first Real Live Grizzly Bear !!
At 7:30 AM, the trip is complete! We can go home now


Hey, Mr. Bear, Look this Way !!


Elsa's Bear !!


Mr. Bear wasn't interested in us. He crossed the road and wandered off into the bushes


Denali Park School Bus


Only these Park Service school busses can go deep into the park


The driver controls a TV camera with a telephoto lens that feeds TV screens that everybody can see


Our first glimpse of Denali


A childs nursery rhyme, sung to the tune of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"

The Bear went over the mountain
The Bear went over the mountain
The Bear went over the mountain


To see what he could see
To see what he could see
To see what he could see


The other side of the mountain
The other side of the mountain
The other side of the mountain


Was all that he could see


The Accidental Tourists visit Denali
Only 35% of the park visitors get to see the mountain
Only 10% get a cloud-free sky like this


The difference between a reindeer and a caribou?
Only reindeer can fly !



Mission Accomplished, Leaving the Park


Back to the Denali Princess Hotel


Next stop, the McKinley Princess Lodge


Where we find a excellent example of a short-field landing in a Luscombe 8A with skis


Iditarod Race Headquarters, Wasilla, Alaska


Alaskan Sled-Dog Puppy Farm


Approaching Anchorage, our 8-day land loop around
Southwest Alaska is almost complete


A bear in Animal Rehabilitation


South-End of North-Facing Caribou


A Caribou needing Care


Entrance to the 2 1/2 mile long One-Lane Tunnel connecting the port city of Whittier
on Prince William Sound to the Seward Highway and Southcentral Alaska


The road shares the tunnel with a railroad track


The light at the end of the tunnel
Cars pay $13.00 round trip. Our bus paid $137.00 round trip


The Golden Princess awaits us in Whittier, near Anchorage
A week at sea is next


Go Back, There's More !!