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Here are some maps to help get you oriented. In this first map, you see we drove north from Whitehorse Yukon on the Klondike highway towards Dawson City.  About 25 miles before Dawson, we turned north on the Dempster Hwy to go to Tombstone Territorial park.       

We then crossed over to Alaska towards Chicken, then south to Tok.  Yesterday, we started on the Tok Cutoff highway south and ended up about where you see the highlight end.








Just in case you thought we were kidding about the moose droppings, these are they.  Each of the "pellets" is about the size of a large pecan.  These are everywhere in the woods and campgrounds.

See what kind of edjukayshun you get in this website?





Saturday, June 18 - Sourdough Creek Campground

We enjoyed our campsite yesterday, especially since it was warm and sunny all day. Today, it is gray all day with rain starting about 4:00 pm.  Hard to take pictures of the scenery.  This morning we continued down the Tok Cutoff Hwy until we came to the Richardson Hwy, and then drove north.  We stopped at Sourdough Creek Campground which was situated between the creek and Gulkanna River.  The campground was full of Alaskans here to fish the king and red salmon starting up the river.  This takes place over a three week period here, and apparently it is The Place to catch king salmon.  These come up the Copper River, and are often called Copper River salmon and priced at a premium when smoked or otherwise sold in stores.  We stopped and talked with a family that had fished the river, and they showed us their catch: three  king salmon 30-36 inches long! When they were gutted, each contained several pounds of roe.  Yesterday, we were told, someone caught a 51 inch salmon!  We are finally in a place where things are happening now, and not last week or next month.  In addition to the fishing, this is an area where people canoe or float down the river, either for the fun of it, or to fish.  We met two gentlemen who had been waiting for to be picked up by a third who was getting their vehicle about 25 miles upstream.  They had completed 7 days on the river fishing and camping, and released far more than they kept.
Now, how can you tell a boy is from Alaska?  We found out.  We talked with a 4-yr old fishing with his parents, and asked his if he liked to eat salmon.  His reply?  "No, I like moose better."

 Sunday, June 19 - Paxson Lake Campground

Leaving Sourdough, we came up to the Sourdough Lodge, established in 1904, and offering sourdough pancakes.  We had to stop, and found out that the starter dough was traded back to 1896!  Boy, they were good stuffed with strawberry jam.
About 25 miles up the road, we stopped at Paxson Lake Campground where the fishermen let out in the last story. There were a number of groups heading out.  This one, in the rubber boat, was going out for a few days with three men aboard. Supplies included a couple of 5-liter boxes of wine and several boxes of Twinkies and zebra bars, to name a few.  Look at the mountains just north of the lake.  We are staying at the campground tonight.  We can hear Pacific loons (saw them) on the lake while toasting marshmallows on our campfire.  With our Golden Age passport, we get to pay $3 a night for this BLM campground.  We met Dave and Karen Lauser this afternoon and we four are the only campers here. They retired early also in 1995, and have spent a good part of the time since on their 31-foot boat, the Southern Cross, in the Great Lakes or Bahamas (11 times to Bahamas).  They are visiting Alaska pulling an A-frame pop-up. 

We didn't find out this was Father's Day until late morning, but we were able to get a good signal on the cell phone and were able to talk with everyone...especially a blessing because, other than the fishermen, we were in the middle of nowhere in Alaska with the closest town about 25 miles away with a population of about 20.  We saw three bald eagles and several loons today. 

The Denali Highway - from Paxton to Cantwell

Saw this German bus on the road.  The back part is a full kitchen!  Passengers get off at a rest area or park, and the driver/chef prepares meals.

Monday, June 20 - Tangle Lake campground

It rained all night, and quite cool.  Brrr. We drove to Tangle Lake Campground; that's it in the picture to the left. We had a nice bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup at the lodge to warm us up.  It has been windy all day here, which adds to the cold. The clouds lifted later in the day, and we were able to take a few hikes around the campground. We saw 5 harlequin ducks (picture on right), later 2 loons nesting, and two otters playing, in the lake. Many white-crowned sparrows around. 

Tuesday, June 21 Further on the Denali Highway

Summer solstice. Good!  Now we'll gain about 7 minutes a day of dark! Although we are not at the Arctic circle, we are so close that there is 24 hours of light, about 2-3 hours of which is various shades of twilight.  We need some dark!
Before we left our camp this morning, we walked back to the boat ramp (first picture on left) to get another look at the loons and the otters.  They were all out swimming.  We stopped to talk with some people with a long-haired chihuahua.  When we looked back, the otter had got on the shore near the loon nest, and appeared to be eating something. (See the picture?  It was so far away it was hard to get a clear shot, but you can make out the two loons and the brown otter.)  The loons did not make a single sound, nor did they appear to be agitated...until the otter came back into the water. The loons then took turns attacking the otter by diving under him and coming up under him.  Lots of splashing!  After about 4-5 attacks, the otter swam off.  Eventually one loon went back to sit on the nest.  We don't know if the otter got an egg or baby loon or was just too close for the loons' comfort.

Breaking camp, we drove further west on the Denali Hwy.  Look at the description on the left.  Some writer had some fun with it.  And he was right!  Look at some of what we saw as we traveled today. In one lake, we saw white-winged scoters and widgeons, later a northern pintail.
We traveled about 30 mph most of the day, and made about 60 miles. No moose and no bear...yet!

We found a beautiful spot about 3 miles on a dirt road off the main dirt road on a high spot overlooking the Susitna River.  That's our view on the left.  At least that's what we thought we saw.  A few hours later, large peaks with snow on them appeared in the background.  And there were even larger snow-covered peaks behind us.

Wednesday, June 22 - Brushkana River BLM Campground, Cantwell RV Park

As is our custom these days, we slept in late :) , and then went down the road towards Denali.  Along the way, we stopped at the day use area of the Brushkana River BLM Campground.  Here, we found a cow moose.  Pretty, isn't she?

 Patty had to use the facilities, but she didn't know that the moose had moved closer to the building while she was in it.  When Ed told her to be careful when she came out, this is the picture that was the result!

This below is typical of the scenery along the last 50 miles of the Denali Hwy towards Park Road that will bring us to Denali National Park.  What you don't see is the miserable condition of the gravel road from about mile 70 to mile 120: ruts, washboard, potholes, sometimes bad enough to slow us down to 10 mph.  Everything that could fall down in the camper...did.


We made it to Cantwell RV Park where we are charging our 3 batteries, filling with water, and dumping our waste water, so that tomorrow, we can take start our 5-day (4 nights) trip to Denali National Park.  While here, we went for a walk and took the pictures below.  It looks like it will be a clear day tomorrow.  







Ah! Civilization!

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