Awesome Alaska – Member Story

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December 22, 2010

Good Sam Club Member Theresa and Chris VanderHorst

I just read the wonderful story about Alaska by Good Sam Club Member Ruth Stoll, Hudson, Florida. Wow! It actually seemed just like our experience this past summer. My husband and I volunteered for the Alaska State Parks at Willow Creek State Recreation Area (SRA) along the Parks Highway. During our 2008 visit to Alaska, we never had the privilege of seeing Denali, “The Great One,” or as “outsiders” call it, Mt. McKinley. Its weather just didn’t cooperate.

The year 2010 was a different story. We were in Alaska from May 5 to August 17. The new experiences just kept coming. By far, the most exciting was seeing Denali almost every day through May. The Willow Creek SRA is just outside of Willow, Alaska. From Willow, on the Parks Highway, you can see Denali in all its majesty and splendor right from the “end” of the Parks Highway. Only God could make such a sight.

Volunteering for the Alaska State Parks was a memorable experience. We met and enjoyed folks from all over the world, stopping at “our” campground to catch king salmon.

Finishing up our 2010 Alaska adventure, we took the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Haines to Prince Rupert, BC. Our ranger friend from the state parks had told us that the culture was entirely different along the southeast part of Alaska. We experienced the Tlingit culture along the Inside Passage as our ferry pulled up to Kake, a small Tlingit community. A group of the passengers, whose heritage and family originated from that community, were returning for a “pot latch” for one of the deceased family members. The Kake community met and greeted those returning home with their native drums, dress and chanting. An unbelievable special glimpse into this life.

The Russian heritage and history in Sitka was another unique experience.

The vastness of the size and experiences in Alaska just kept coming. We will definitely be returning to this very special state. One cannot see it all in just one visit.

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  1. Tim Latta

    Assuming that the gas prices don’t change my mind, I’m planning a fall trip to the Canadian Maritimes and then chase the colors back through the New England states, upstate New York and on west back to Oregon. What are the ‘must see’ places that I need to build into the schedule?

    thanks Tim

  2. Roger Eastman

    We are planning a trip starting from Des Moines IA May 9, 2011 via Calgary, Edmonton,Tok, Valdez, Skagwat, Haines, Anchorage, Denali, Fairbanks and back. We are really looking forward to this once in a life time trip. Met some friends who have lived in Fairbanks for 40+ years so will visit them. If you are thinking about going, get the travel books “Guide to the Alaska Highway” by Ron Dalby, “Alaska Camping” by Mike and Terri Church, “RVing to Alasaka” by Ronald Jones and of course “The Milepost”. The “Trailer Life Directory Campground Navigator” computer program is an excellent tool as well. Extra time spent planning is a good investment, especially if you are going on your own and not part of a Caravan. Get on the various website for Alaska tourism and have fun. The planing is a great winter time activity.

    Travel well. Roger Eastman

  3. Ray Ingram

    Theresa & Chris, thanks for the memories. Shirley and I are seriously thinking about making it too AK. One of my earlier jobs took me all over AK’s modes of transportation. Shirley has not been there, ever. I want in a bad way to change that.
    I take possesion of my 1st RV next week, a 40′ Gulf Stream Tourmaster. I would love to do the Good Sam’s Club Caraventure coming up this year but do not know enough to try it yet. So next year, if you guys are still there in AK, maybe we’ll see you.
    Penny W., Centavo, and Beverly, thanks for the inputs.
    Warm Regards,

  4. Beverly

    We are planning a trip to Alaska in 2012. We will live in Maryland so what is the suggested month we should leave here to visit Alaska with our RV. We plan to do some sightseeing going across the US. We plan to travel across the upper part of the US then cut into the western corner of Canada to the Alcan Highway. Any suggestions would be helpful


  5. Penny W.

    We drove our motorhome up to Alaska in the summer of 2009 and saw most of the state that is accessible by road. We also used the Alaska Marine Highway and saw the Inside Passage. I sure hope Haines is not your final destination. When you drive that far, you need to see the rest of the state – Valdez, Seward, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, etc. You definitely need to go to Skagway (a short ferry ride from Haines) and ride the historic White Pass train. It is an awesome ride! On the way up, I would recommend camping in Banff and Jasper and taking the gondolas up the mountain for some fantastic views. On the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper you can stop and go up on the Columbia Icefield in one those huge Snowcat type vehicles (I can’t remember what they call them.). That was a unique experience to get out and walk on the glacier.

    [email protected]
    Not sure if you’re set in stone on the dates you’re going up, but we went up in late May from Colorado and it was perfect timing to see a lot of wildlife. The dandelions and wildflowers are in bloom and the bears, moose, etc. are out there feasting on them. We can’t even count how many bears we saw – lots of cubs, too. We plan to go the same time this year. (We hardly saw any wildlife on our return trip in mid-August.)

    If you plan on fishing, my husband would have lots of advice — deep-sea fishing of fly-fishing.

    Have a great trip! Plan on staying as long as you can.

  6. Joe Williams

    We plan to leave from Show Low, Az enroute to Haines, AK in July of this year. Going up through Montana to Calgary, Banff, to the Casier Highway to Haines Junction. Been there by car years ago, so looking forward to my RV trip in our Monaco Cayman and towing our Jeep.

    Anyone with any ideas or advice? Send to [email protected]