North To Alaska
Published: October 30, 2000
Jim and Angela Tauras
 
Jim and Angela TaurasIt was the summer of 2000 and our long imagined and much desired trip to Alaska was finely coming to fruition. We were on the road for almost three months, fifty-five days of which were on the WBCCI caravan called Alyeska- the great land and covered thirteen thousand miles.

We meandered southern Canada and the Canadian Rockies before our rendezvous in Edmonton, Alberta. We were surprised to have snow in Banff on July fourth and equally surprised to have snow once again on our return through there on September second. Our route was the standard one (there aren’t too many roads up there) and we found ourselves in the company of many of the commercial caravans. Our caravan was one of the longest and we don’t know how you can do it in less time if you want to do and see everything. We hit all the highlights and will share a few of them with you.

Dawson City, Yukon Territories is one of Canada’s preserved historic sites. The streets are not paved so that with rain they are slick mud or if dry, they are full of dust. We came to see the real thing so we got both mud and dust! Robert Service is the bard of the Yukon and at his home site we listened to a recitation of his poetry. Jim played golf by the midnight sun with several of the men. He didn’t get home until almost one a.m. and it was starting to get lighter at that time. He never did see the moose that was supposed to hang out by the sixth hole. We felt very energized by the long days and never had a difficult time sleeping. We just found it hard to remember to go to bed.

Top of the world highway was an anticipated yet dreaded road as the entire stretch of one hundred and fifty miles is unpaved. Due to the fog and rain we didn’t have the terror of steep drop offs at roadside. We just had the terror of slick muddy roads and the effort to see the taillights in front of us. Some of you might remember that we had tried to remove our microwave but couldn’t. Well top of the world shook it loose for us. It came home in the back of the Suburban.

In Fairbanks, Alaska we took a flight seeing trip up beyond the Arctic Circle. From the vantage of our small plane we got to a point where there were no more roads. Only the pipeline was visible. We walked on the spongy permafrost, touched the pipeline, and took the required pictures at the Arctic Circle.

In Denali we were among the fortunate few to actually see the mountain as clouds usually shroud it. It had only been seen three times in the previous month. The mountain was totally covered in snow and was magnificent. We also saw the requisite number of bears but they were at a distance.

Next it was on to beautiful Anchorage where we were surrounded by mountains. We were soon off to Seward where we camped right on the beach. It was fun to see all the boat traffic. In Homer we went halibut fishing and caught our limit in a beautiful body of water surrounded by snow-covered volcanoes.

We are frequently asked similar questions about the trip, so we’ll answer some of them now. Food and fuel were always available and were not as high priced as we had been led to believe. Bugs you ask- no problem. The one time I needed my net, I couldn’t find it so I wore my personal electronic mosquito repeller. I think that all the laughter kept the bugs away. The campgrounds were better than we had anticipated but true to WBCCI tradition, pack em in like sardines was occasionally in order. We grew to love the tradition of stopping at roadhouses to buy sticky buns and I do mean grew! Caravanning has its pluses and minuses but there were only pluses on this trip. The camaraderie and the help of knowledgeable caravaners worked out very well. When we see you, we’ll tell you about getting locked out of our trailer. Suffice it to say at least three people taught us how to break into an Airstream and also how to take apart a lock. We love those guys! Collectively, the group had nine flats and several cracked or stared windshields. One motor home hit a moose but was able to continue the trip. Our trusty 81 held up very well. The weather was unusually cool and the Alaskans were complaining even though they were walking around in shorts. We came home with an alaskan tan-face neck and hands. This was our first trip traveling with a laptop and a digital camera. We really learned a lot from others and from the computer manuals, which we finally had time to read as we drove along. Many of the campgrounds were modem friendly in one form or another. Email us at ajtauras@hotmail.com if you want more information or come on over if you want to see our slides, video and digital pictures. We’ll try not to bore you to death!

What advise do we have for you? Well first of all go to Alaska and make your first trip and possibly every trip on a caravan. Make sure your vehicle, silver chateau and tires are in tiptop shape. Don’t try to squeeze one last trip out of a marginal tow vehicle. Towing and repairs are very expensive up north as several of our new friends can testify.

Well in closing we would like to say that we have signed up for the Maple Leaf caravan in 2001. Can’t wait to don that Stetson and those pointed toe cowboy boots for the Calgary stampede (or at least jeans and a bandanna).

We’ll close for now with an expression that we learned on the Oregon Trail caravan. “Lasso the day”

– Jim and Angela Tauras