Alaska Photos and Campsites

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Back Home again!

Back Home again! After living here for 45 years, and being gone for the last 6, it felt very good!

We’ve been on the go so I am behind again on posts. I’m going to try to catch up by doing this post on our Alaska campsites. To save some time it will mostly be pictures and the captions will tell most of the tale. This post will be our first campsite and the drive to Anchorage down the Tok Cut-off to Glenallen and then to Anchorage.
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This isn’t Judy’s first rodeo either; she visited for 2 weeks vacation, several years ago.

Our free campsite at Deadman's campground.

Our free campsite at Deadman’s campground. It was much nicer than the name made it sound!

We drove from Whitehorse, Yukon Territories to a free campground just 18 miles over the border into Alaska. Deadman’s Campground is part of the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge and sits on a pretty little lake. All the lake-front sites were taken, but we found a nice site for the night. If it’s full there is another free campground just down the road at Milepost 1221.7, it’s also on a lake.
 
Another shot of the campsite.

Another shot of the campsite.

We just spent one night there and then continued on toward Anchorage. We drove to Tok Junction on the Alaska highway and then turned south on the Tok Cut-off toward Glennallen and then turned southwest on the Glenn Highway toward Anchorage. This far north the roads are pretty poor. Their worst the 300 miles from Whitehorse to the border; fortunately, once you cross into Alaska, they improve, but still have bad spots. Pay attention to the warning signs!
This is the road in Canada just before the border, you can see the truck is kicking up a cloud of dust and gravel. There are very long stretches of gravel between Whitehorse and the border.

This is the road in Canada just before the border, you can see the truck is kicking up a cloud of dust and gravel. There are very long stretches of gravel between Whitehorse and the border. This is typical terrain in northern Canada, flat with rolling hills.

I had an interesting experience once at Tok. When I was younger I drove a School Bus for  5 years in Anchorage. One winter I took a charter trip to Tok for a small-school Basketball Tournament. Interior Alaska is by far the coldest part of Alaska as I found out on that trip. It was -30 degrees in Anchorage when we left. That’s cold but not uncommon so we didn’t think much of it. But when we got to Tok it was -70 degrees Fahrenheit without any wind. Once there I pulled into a convenience store and let the kids run in  for snacks. As always in that kind of cold, I never shut the engine off of my diesel bus because there wasn’t a chance in Hell it would start again!
Even in Alaska there are bed stretches of road, but none as bad as in Canada.  the permafrost is very hard on roads.

Even in Alaska there are bed stretches of road, but none as bad as in Canada.
The permafrost is very hard on roads.

When the kids were back in the bus and loaded up I put it in Drive, but it wouldn’t go–nothing! I could put it in reverse, but not forward in Drive. I called my boss in Anchorage who arranged to have the kids taken to the High School gym where they were going to sleep and he also arranged a local garage to take the bus in and fix it. But, I could only go in reverse and it was dark–that far north, it’s almost always dark in the winter! Even worse, there was a real thick Ice Fog, which is also standard at those temperatures. When air gets that cold, it can’t hold any moisture so it just freezes as tiny, tiny crystals and hangs in the air: fog made of ice. What to do? They called the State Troopers who sent over a patrol car to be my escort and I backed all the way from the convenience store, to the garage and backed straight from there, down the road, through the Tok Junction and into the garage! Whew!! That was a close one!  It turns out one of the hydraulic hoses was too light duty for that temperature and had frozen and broke. It was a simple fix and we were ready to go.
From Tok to Anchorage you cross several beautiful mountain ranges. It's a very pretty drive!

From Tok to Anchorage you cross several beautiful mountain ranges. It’s a very pretty drive!

The Tournament ended Saturday night and we were scheduled to return  Sunday morning. But, it was still -70 and  they wouldn’t let us drive home at those temperatures. If there had been any problem with the bus on the drive back to Anchorage we could have frozen to death before someone found us. This was long before cell-phones and we would drive through hundreds of miles with no humans anywhere. Fortunately, that night the cold snap broke and it warmed all he way up to -35 and they cleared us to go home. Thank god for warm spells!
It's too early for fireweed, so I don't know what these purple flowers are. But there were lots of them and they were very pretty!

It’s too early for Fireweed, so I don’t know what these purple flowers are. But there were lots of them and they were very pretty!

The weather was warmer  on this trip for Judy and I in the van, but still not good. We drive through lots of rain and clouds but I took some pictures anyway. I love this drive and think of it as one of the prettiest in Alaska. I tried to get some decent photos but these were the best I could do. I hope you enjoy them.
This is a glacier on the drive from Tok Junction to Anchorage.

This is a glacier on the drive from Tok Junction to Anchorage.

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This is the Matanuska Glacier which is 100 miles north of Anchorage. It's a gorgeous area but I didn't get any other decent photos from it.

This is the Matanuska Glacier which is 100 miles north of Anchorage. It’s a gorgeous area but I didn’t get any other decent photos from it.

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Next Bob's 12 Commandments for Stealth Parking In the City

27 Comments

  1. Rob

    Nice pictures & great story on the cold!

    • Bob

      Thanks Rob. This is the first time I’ve told that one in print.
      Bob

  2. Desert Rat

    Beautiful shots, Bob. Awesome country. I’ll be heading up that way in mid-July. Wish I could’ve gone with you guys, but life happens.

    • Bob

      The weather has improved so you may be very glad you waited. Normally June is clear and July starts to rain, but this year it appears to have reversed. It’s just the luck of the draw. Hopefully you will get some great weather.
      Bob

  3. nelda

    Thanks, Bob, for the great pictures. I love hearing of your adventures and look forward to many more.
    Nelda

    • Bob

      Thanks Nelda! More to come!
      Bob

  4. Openspaceman

    Bob_
    It looks perfect…I don’t see any mosquitoes at all. Great pics as always…I think your ready for National Geographic.

    • Bob

      Thanks Openspaceman! You may not see the mosquitoes, but they noticed us–in droves. Some places they were truly terrible but mostly they haven’t been too bad.
      Bob

  5. Peggy

    Your pictures still look great despite the lousy weather. I enjoyed your story about driving in the cold and have to chuckle at the thought of -35 degrees being “warmed up”. It’s great to read about your travels in Alaska…I’m finding it very enticing to visit there myself someday!

    • Bob

      One more for the Bucket List Peggy!

  6. sassypickins

    Stunning photos. Thank you! On a side note, is there somewhere else here where you have talked about the rack and boxes on the back of Judy’s van? I am interested in doing the same and wonder how you deal with the weight and security factors. Thank you for this site.

    • Bob

      sassypickins, I have not written on the conversion itself yet, but I will. We’re extremely happy with the Hitch Haul, it’s been a life-saver. Both of the boxes are bolted onto the Hitch Haul and have padlocks to keep them secure.
      Bob

      • sassypickins

        Thanks for the reply. I’ll stay tuned for more about the conversion as I’ve started my own now!

  7. Calvin R

    Pretty pictures, good story. Having a “warm” spell at -35 chills me just thinking about it. I guess that’s why I like the Arizona desert.

    • Bob

      Just telling the story stuns me too Calvin! People aren’t supposed to live in those places darn it! I tell my son how glad I am to have left Alaska and he just shakes his head in disbelief! To him there is no other place to consider being.
      I like the Arizona desert to!
      Bob

  8. Martin

    Great pictures. Thanks for sharing. You’re the most adventurous person on the web so it’s great to see these. In a couple years i’ll be doing that stuff. Money is the issue. Broke down in Alaska with two dollars to my name and no source of income would be a bum trip. No more bum trips for me so wise planning is the key.

    • Bob

      Martin, that’s a good attitude to have. Nothing wrong with good planning!
      Bob

  9. jim

    -70 below zero i can’t even think about how cold that is when i was a young man i really wanted to move to alaska that was all that was on my mine now 50 years later i guess the good lord no’s best i never made it up there and now at my age i glad i did’t but thank you mr bob so much for the pictures hope you and ms judy have a blast

    • Bob

      Jim, it’s amazing how many people tell me that Alaska was always a dream of theirs. It just fires up our imagination and calls us. To me it was always just home, I never knew anyplace else.
      Bob

  10. Linda Barton

    Love the pictures, I cant wait to make that drive someday.

    • Bob

      Thanks Linda. You’re day will come!
      Bob

  11. dan

    My wife and I visited Alaska 22 years ago. It’s a place once you visit, you don’t soon forget. Thanks for sharing your great pictures. Brings back lots of good memories.

    • Bob

      You’re welcome Dan!
      Bob

  12. Ming

    I think that I’m missing something. I see from reading peoples’ travel blogs and articles from Truck Camper Magazine that a lot of people have a burning desire to visit Alaska some time in their lives. Where does this desire come from?
    From reading literature set in the American West, I have developed a strong desire to travel there to visit the deserts and canyons. Same thing with the mountains, Everglades and other wild lands of America. Are there books that most people have read and that I have not, that would do the same thing for Alaska? I would like to understand this better. Is this an American thing, or do Canadians feel the same way about Alaska?
    Aside from that, your pictures are beautiful, Bob. They certainly pique my interests in seeing the place for myself. I suspect the effect will be the same as visiting the Rockies – impressive in the pictures, and awe inspiring in person.

    • Bob

      Ming, it’s a lot of things:
      Incredible natural beauty
      History (gold mostly)
      Hardship
      Danger-Risk
      Independence
      Adventure
      The unknown
      Testing Yourself
      Hunting
      Homesteading
      Freedom
      It all adds up to a undefinable mystique that has an extreme appeal for some people. I think the best summary is WILDNESS. Alaska is raw and wild and living on the edge. All the traits I listed are part of the fabric of America and I think it’s less in Canadians. The part of us that loves guns also loves Alaska.
      Bob

      • Ming

        that sounds like a winning combination! 🙂
        Yours and others’ writings (along with the pictures) about driving to Alaska are certainly building up the awareness and appeal for me. Everyone should experience wilderness.
        I think I remember now of some readings set in Alaska from when I was younger – snow and cold in the winter and bugs in the summer featured prominently. I’m averse to both, so I guess I paid more attention to other stories set in warmer climates. Your story of -70F weather is priceless!

        • Bob

          Ming, and it’s a true story!
          Bob

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