Alaska-Part 12-Highlights of Our 80-Day Journey

We are safely home after our incredible Alaska adventure. In this blog post, we will revisit some of the amazing places we saw on our 11-week journey and include some short videos not seen in previous blog posts.

In total, Hank drove our motorhome 8,272 miles from our home campground in Valencia, California (through Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory) to Alaska and back. Our trip included over 5 weeks in Alaska itself and about 3 weeks in each direction to get there and back. We stayed in 34 different campgrounds, some both on the way up and back. Though we had minor issues, including a cracked windshield on our last day, we all got home safely with our RVs and cars mostly intact.

We featured some highlights below; feel free to scroll through to your favorite parts of our marathon trip. We’ve also included short videos compiling different aspects of the trip. The first video (8 minutes) shows our DashCam footage while we were driving the RV.

There are so many scenic drives in Alaska!
And stunning walks too! But I'm getting ahead of myself...

To Alaska and Back in 80 Days–Part 12: Highlights!

1. Preparing to go (we’ve included links to all the previous blog posts in case you want more detail) 

• A huge highlight was traveling the entire trip with Hank’s sister Judy and her husband Allyn!
• After multiple cancellations in previous years, the main highlight was the fact that the trip actually happened this year. Until we were on the road, I couldn’t really believe it was for real.

Judy and Allyn did the whole trip with us!
The night before we actually took off on June 1st--yes, it's really happening--finally!

2. Getting to the Alaska Highway (from SoCal through Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia). Highlights included:
• A full Lake Shasta, lots of snow on Mt. Shasta in Northern California, and a beautiful view of Mt. St. Helen’s in Washington
• Wildlife sightings: a bald eagle at the Oostema Farmstead and a mama and baby moose as we drove from Prince George to Dawson Creek, BC
Chetwynd, BC–chainsaw carving winners–so different from anything we had seen before.
• Getting to Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek and meeting up with the Arizona contingent of our mini-caravan (cousin Tom and his friends Ron and June)

Lake Shasta at full capacity
Mt. Shasta with lots of snow
Mt. St. Helen's on a clear day
Our first (but not our last) bald eagle sighting of the trip
Our first moose sighting of the trip!
One of the beautiful chainsaw carvings in Chetwynd, BC

3. Driving the Alaska Highway (from Mile 0 in Dawson Creek, BC, to Tok, Alaska). Highlights:
• Traveling the Alaska Highway itself, and learning about its construction in 1942 during World War II
• Wildlife sightings along the road—black bears, stone sheep, wood bison
Muncho Lake, British Columbia, in the Northern Rocky Mountains—absolutely stunning!!!!

A photo showing the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942
Wood bison are larger than American bison.
Stone sheep lick minerals off the road.
Muncho Lake is gorgeous!

• Placing our custom sign (designed and produced by our nephew Bryce) in the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory
Kluane Lake and Kluane National Park (in the Yukon Territory)
• Crossing borders—into the Yukon and then into Alaska (our first time in the 49th state)!
• Gorgeous mountains around every corner

Kluane Lake in the Yukon Territory
The mountains of Kluane National Park

4. The Alaskan Interior (Tok, Alaska and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park). Highlights:
• Driving into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (our 51st national park) along the McCarthy Road
• Visiting the town of McCarthy and the Kennecott Mines that are part of the national park
• Flying out in a small plane and viewing several mountains, glaciers, rivers, and valleys that make up this gorgeous and rugged national park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
The town of McCarthy is featured in "Edge of Alaska"
The mine buildings of Kennecott
One of the glaciers of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

5. Glacier to Glacier (Valdez to Matanuska Glacier). Highlights: 
• The drive into Valdez past Worthington Glacier and Keystone Canyon was stunning!
• Boat trip on the LuLuBelle to Columbia Glacier—gorgeous icebergs along the way
• Wildlife sightings: hoary marmot, sea otters, humpback whale

Worthington Glacier
One of the beautiful icebergs near Columbia Glacier
A portion of the enormous Columbia Glacier
Horsetail Falls in Keystone Canyon

• Glacier trek on Matanuska Glacier—a unique experience

6. Anchorage-Chugach State Park-Seward. Highlights:
• Wildlife sightings: black bear mama and cubs on our hike at the Eagle River Nature Center; female moose in our campground at Eagle River State Park; bald eagles near Seward
• Biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (our only bike ride of the trip as it turned out)

• More gorgeous mountain views as we drove down the Kenai Peninsula
Kenai Fjords National Park (number 52 for us)—hiking to Exit Glacier and taking the Kenai Fjords boat tour—more glaciers, orcas, seals, and sea otters on the glacier ice floes

Along Turnagain Arm
At the toe of Exit Glacier
Seward's picturesque harbor
An orca in Kenai Fjords National Park
Allyn's picture of otters near Aialik Glacier

7. Homer and Kenai and Bears, Oh My! Highlights:
• Homer and Kachemak Bay
• Wildlife sightings: Bald eagles along the whole coastline, moose on Beluga Slough Trail, red fox at Chinitna Bay in Lake Clark National Park
• Russian Orthodox church buildings
• Watching Alaskans as they participated in dipnetting to fish for salmon

The view from the Homer Spit
Red fox at Chinitna Bay in Lake Clark National Park
Bald eagles and gulls enjoy a meal at Anchor Point
Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Kenai
Dipnetting on the Kenai Peninsula

• Flying to Lake Clark National Park (national park #53)—circling Mt. Iliamna volcano
• Spending 3 hours watching mama and baby coastal brown bears (aka grizzly bears) feeding on sedge grass in the national park

One of many glaciers in Lake Clark National Park
Mt. Iliamna--last eruption was in the 1950s
The coastal brown bear (grizzly) cubs of Lake Clark were adorable!

Here’s a 6-minute video of our visit to Lake Clark National Park (mostly focused on the bears).

8. From the Mat-Su Valley to Denali. Highlights:
Musk Ox Farm—meeting Trebek
• Hiking to Hatch Peak in the Hatcher Pass area

Trebek is named after Alex Trebek. Musk ox were Alex's favorite animals.
On top of Hatch Peak
The views from Hatcher Pass

• Views of Denali
• Being in Denali National Park (our 54th national park out of 63)
• Wildlife sightings: caribou, ptarmigan, and moose
• Spotting Jesse from Life Below Zero!
• Not a highlight—getting Covid—but glad to have friends, access to doctors and medication, and a comfortable place to self-isolate (in our RV). Sad that we couldn’t explore the Fairbanks area!

A different view of Denali
One of many female moose we saw
Jesse from "Life Below Zero"

9. Leaving and Re-Entering Alaska! Highlights:
• Completing the last portion of the Alaska Highway
Haines, Alaska—another gorgeous part of Alaska, this time on the panhandle
• Wildlife sightings: trumpeter swans, bald eagles, black bears
• Four fantastic evenings watching coastal brown bears (grizzlies) eat sedge grass and salmon

We earned our certificates by driving the entire Alaska Highway!
So many gorgeous views around Haines
A grizzly cub enjoys the sedge grass.
Yummy sockeye salmon along the fish weir
Judy's photo of the cubs

Here’s a 3-minute video of the mama and baby bears eating sedge grass and catching fish near Haines, AK.

10. Visiting Alaska and Canada for the Last Time (on this trip). Highlights:
• The Stewart-Cassiar Highway, Glacier Highway and Bear Glacier
• Driving to the Summit View of Salmon Glacier
• Celebrating Allyn’s birthday in Stewart, British Columbia

Judy's photo along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Bear Glacier
Salmon glacier
Judy's photo--Allyn's birthday!

• Four fantastic visits to the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site outside Hyder, Alaska, to watch spawning salmon, a black bear, bald eagles, and several more coastal brown bears (grizzlies) as they caught salmon out of the creek
• Sending off our Arizona traveling companions to their next destination

Spawning chum salmon

Here’s a 6-minute video of the bears in Hyder, Alaska, catching salmon out of Fish Creek.

Prince George, BC
Clinton, BC

And if you haven’t seen enough of our critters on this trip, here’s one more video that showcases a few of the critters other than bears that we saw on this adventure.

11. Heading Back to SoCal. Highlights:
• Picking berries at Oostema Farmstead (and reuniting with Loretta the calf)
• Enjoying Harstine Island and McMicken Island with family
• Beautiful sunsets on the way home
• Visiting with wonderful friends
• Closing out our time with Judy and Allyn (bittersweet to end this amazing trip)

Judy reunites with Loretta the calf whom she named in early June.
With Mom and brothers Chris, Ron, and Brad
Two of my sisters-in-law: Merrie and Judy
McMicken Island
Larry and Nina
Our last dinner where we had our first dinner--Wood Ranch BBQ

We are so thankful for those of you who journeyed along with us and who commented about what you enjoyed or the memories it brought back of your own travels. We do not take for granted the fact that we are among a small group of travelers who are able to complete a lengthy trip like this. Seeing the vastness and variety of God’s creation through this trip to Alaska has only given us a continuing desire to see other places and creatures while we can. We have been thrilled to share our experiences with you!

Goodbye from Alaska!
Allyn's amazing sunset photo to close us out!

12 thoughts on “Alaska-Part 12-Highlights of Our 80-Day Journey”

  1. Such a great adventure! So many memories and EXPERIENCES!!!

    Thank you so much for bringing us along on your remarkable adventure and journey!
    I am loving the pictures, stories and movies!!!

    And it is so great to hear you are home safely!

    • It truly was a great adventure, Mindy! And yes, we’re very glad to be home safely. Now we just need to get the RV windshield fixed before the next trip :).


  2. Wow, Cindy! Looks like such an amazing trip! You captured some great moments of true nature! Felt like I was right there. Thank you for sharing ?

  3. More than wonderful…a beautiful trip and great memories. It has been a pleasure to travel vicariously to Alaska with my cousins. The critters and views were spectacular. Thanks for sending us this blog with videos.
    Phyllis Brown, your cousin in Maryland.


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