"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Thursday, August 30, 2018


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We had a beautiful morning for our drive to Skagway.  An information board at the campground identified our location as Long Hill, and it lived up to its name.

It was a beautiful drive which included another border crossing, but no problems either direction.  I think the system had gotten used to us by then.  Arriving in Skagway, it was apparent that a cruise ship was in port.  Actually, there were two.

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Skagway has a number of unique buildings.  This one belonge to the Arctic Brotherhood.  The siding was sticks and twigs.

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A little history of the organization.

Camp No. 1 of the Arctic Brotherhood was established in Skagway, Alaska in 1899 following the arrival of the Ocean Steamer "City of Seattle."  The membership roster boasting 11 members soon swelled to more than 300 as the roots of The Brotherhood spread amongst the miners readying themselves for the trip up and over the Chilkoot Pass en route to the Klondike gold fields.
Historian I.N. Davidson reports "There were the usual objections to secret orders made to this new order by the churches, and the term "Arctic Bummers" on one side and "Sniveling Hypocrites" on the other were frequently heard."  The skeptics were silenced when they saw that the lodge looked after its members in sickness and health, buried its dead and generally improved educational and social conditions of the booming mining camps.  It wasn't long before every northern city, town or settlement of any importance boasted its Arctic Brotherhood Camp.  Eventually more than 30 camps were established throughout the North and, at its height, the Arctic Brotherhood boasted some 10,000 members.”

Another was this one.  Now a museum to the gold rush, and the Chilkoot trail.

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The hardships that the men and women that made their way up Chilcoot Pass were many.  The journey from Skagway to Dawson wasn’t short.  Even today it’s two days by automobile.  To make that trip in freezing cold, up and down mountains, crossing rivers, glaciers, and lakes, while carrying everything on your back, sounds impossible.

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A restored bar of the era.

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I also stumbled upon a little information about those wooden towers I memtioned in the previous blog. 

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The fact that a cable-way was built from Conrad to the top of Long Hill over a hundred years ago just blows my mind.  It serviced three mines for a number of years from the landing at Conrad……jc

Monday, August 27, 2018

Carcross(Cariboo Crossing)!

After departing Haines, we backtracked up the highway to the Alcan, and headed for Whitehorse.  Back into Wolf Creek campground, a Yukon government facility.  It was time to do laundry, grocery shop, etc.  We spent only the night there, then headed toward Skagway.  We planned to stop at a Yukon campground just South of Carcross, called Conrad.

Conrad campground is the newest of the Yukon territory campgrounds, and isn’t even mentioned in the Milepost.  Conrad is an old ghost town location, but little remains there now but an old cabin or two, unknown relics, and these wooden towers stepping from Tagish lake to the top of the mountain across the way.

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There was even broken cables hanging from a few of them.  Sure made me wonder when and what.

Conrad campground also got us up close and personal with our first forest fire.  Thankfully, it was across Tagish Lake from the campground.

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Mostly smoke, which the wind kept from us, but occasionally we would see flames as a tree flared into oblivion.

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Carcross is a small Native village that has become a tourist attraction.  What was once an mostly abandoned village after the gold fever abatted, now has a mini-mall of local merchants, as well as a stop for the tourist train up from Skagway.

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One of the storefronts.

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Carcross is also the location of a desert of sorts.

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Many acres of windblown sand from the nearby lakes and rivers.  Much like the dunes California.

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Skagway is next…..jc

Friday, August 24, 2018


The conditions on our return trip from McCarthy were even worse than the drive down.  The rain began just as we were leaving town, and the road became a slick and slimy mess.  It was well after dark when we arrived back at the camper, so no pictures.  It rained steady all night, and there was a large puddle of water just outside.  I took a bucket and sloshed water over the doors and windows to clear them enough to see through.  The door handles were full of grit, and the sound of letting down a window would send chills down one’s back.

After a stop in Glenellen to dump, we continued on to Tok.  We had made a grand circle, first arriving in Tok on June 17.  It was now August 4.  We were tired, and decided to just enjoy a  small state park just out of town for a couple of days of doing nothing.

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Our next destination was to be Haines.  Entering back into Canada, then again into Alaska.  Driving South from Tok, the leaves were already changing on the small Willows and Aspen.

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In my opinion, the best scenery in Alaska, other than Denali and the Portage Glacier area, are the roads down to the coastal towns.  Sadly we missed seeing it on the way to and from Valdez and Haines due to fog and rain.  We knew we were driving through a beautiful area from the roadside clues.  We just couldn’t see it.

Arriving in Haines, we checked the campground options and selected one at Chilcoot Lake, a few miles from town.

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The campground was situated in what appeared to be a magic forest.  Dark, dim, and spooky.

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To add to the spookiness, the area had Grizzly(Brown) Bears.  One had even been spotted within the campground a couple of times during the past week.  This one was hanging out just outside the gate. 

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The rain put a damper on outside activities, but I found a place I couldn’t pass up.  The Hammer Museum.

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Over 2000, of a 5000+ collection, on display.  Here’s just a few.

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Glass hammers.  Can’t be of much use, but I thought they were pretty.

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And, of course, your everyday Claw Hammer.

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The guy running the place said hardly a day goes by that they don’t receive a hammer or two in the mail.

I saw this on our way back to the campground.  A small net boat on a windy day.

Let’s go fishing, they said.  It will be fun, they said.  We’ll have the time of our lives, they said.

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And so it went till they were out of sight…..jc

Monday, August 20, 2018


As most of you have guessed, this blog is weeks behind.  A fact caused by my unattention and very poor network connections, but most of all was the problems with keeping a laptop charged when using only solar for power.  We’ve only plugged in two times since May.

After leaving Valdez, and before getting back to the junction of the Glennallen highway, there was a nice paved road that led to the small town of Chitina.  The Milepost showed there to be a large turnout just down the way, so that’s where we spent the night.  No traffic to speak of, and no other visitors.

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Chitina wasn’t much to speak of, other than to be the jumping off place to McCarthy and the abandoned Kennicott mine.  We found a campsite just over the river right before the rain began.  It was about 11 AM, so we decided to go ahead and make the 60 mile drive to McCarthy.  That was a mistake, only because it didn’t leave us much time to explore before things shut down.

The road is the reclaimed bed of the abandoned railroad.  One can still see old ties buried in it, and sometimes one finds an old spike with a tire.  We were lucky with that.  A beautiful old bridge, constructed in just a few months in the dead of Winter.  It’s over a gorge hundreds of feet deep.

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No public road goes into McCarthy.  One must walk a footbridge across a river, and catch a shuttle to town.  As we missed the shuttle by just minutes, we decided to do the half mile hike.  It was interesting.

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Once in Mccarthy, we had only moments before the shuttle to the mine left, so didn’t get to explore as much as I would have liked.

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Kennicott was a mile town, with strict rules for the employees.  McCarthy was at the end of the railroad, just five miles down the hill.  One can imagine what sorts of things took place there each evening.

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Kennicott was the main reason for our visit, though.  I love places like it, and was disappointed to find that everything shut down at 5 PM.  Following are just a few of the pictures I made as I wandered the place.  The company just walked away when the mine shut down in the 1930’s.  Most everything was left in place.  The NPS now has control of the site and are doing some stabilization on some of the buildings. 

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The company store.

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Pick your brand.

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I remenber all of these products.  I guess that makes me old.

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There were plenty of windows for air circulation.

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Abandoned machinery looks as if it could be back to work at any time.

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As I mentioned earlier, it was 60 miles of dirt road to get to McCarthy.  It was raining and muddy as we bagan the trip, so the truck was wet and nasty.  About ten miles before the end of the road the rain quit, and the road turned to dust.  The end result is pictured below.  It was like concrete.

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Just making memories.

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I’ll try and do better…..jc