If Ken Mumm hadn’t been born in Seward, Neb., perhaps he wouldn’t have wanted to spend his seventy fifth birthday in Seward, Alaska.
But he changed into, and he did, so for that milestone birthday June 5, he and his wife Bonnie drove four,135 miles to Seward, Alaska, to have fun among puffins, seals, sea otters and fishing boats on a windy sightseeing cruise on Prince William Sound.
The journey become a year inside the making. Planning for the nine,a hundred and fifty-mile, seven-week journey commenced proper after Ken’s 74th birthday a yr ago. “I’m a planner, a researcher,” Ken, a retired educator, stated. “It was fun.”
He and Bonnie, a retired administrative assistant at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, had been now not strangers to Alaska; in 2012, they’d visited Fairbanks, Anchorage and Seward and sailed down the Inside Passage. They wanted to move returned, however this time, they would pressure.
First, they bought an RV, a singular item for the Mumms, who as soon as were avid tent campers. Doing research on line, Mumm was stunned at the “implausible” selection of campers he discovered on-line. After giant studies and talking to an RV expert in Longmont, Colo., they located a 2015 Winnebago in Lincoln and tried it out for 2 nights ultimate fall at Fort Kearney State Recreation Area. They hoped to camp in it again this spring, however bad weather avoided that.
Then they pored over The Milepost, a 768-page Alaska tour planner, published yearly, that is the bible for motorists sure for Alaska. It shows each gas station and inn at the 1,390-mile Alaska Highway — nicknamed the Alcan Highway — from Dawson Creek, Yukon Territory, to Delta Junction, Alaska, simply southeast of Fairbanks.
They’d was hoping to drag their new Winnebago with their SUV, but they ended up buying a pickup for that.
Hitting the road
They took off May 15. With no firm itinerary, so they could forestall whenever and anywhere they wanted.
Their first prevent became Chamberlain, S.D., where they toured the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center. Next got here Badlands National Park close to Interior, S.D. It become clouded by means of fog, but they stayed for some days.
“From then on, it was how a ways do we want to move day after today?” Ken said. They had was hoping to go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, however 33-degree temperatures and snow changed their minds. They stopped there at the way domestic as a substitute. “The weather became cold, but our camper turned into heat,” Bonnie said.
Instead, they headed throughout Montana to the Canadian border. This early within the travel season, they encountered little northbound visitors. “Our intention turned into to get up there earlier than all of us else came up,” Ken said. They concerned about crowds in Banff National Park and Lake Louise, however determined each “viable.” Lake Louise nevertheless turned into frozen.
At Dawson Creek, British Columbia, they picked up the Alaska Highway. The surroundings changed into jaw-dropping. “Every turn in the street become a picture opportunity,” Bonnie said. “The clouds were fabulous. Sometimes we simply took pix of clouds.”
There become a lot to see. In Skagway, they saw 5 docked cruise ships. “It became wall-to-wall vacationer stores, but the history became captivating,” Bonnie stated. “The avenue to Chilcat became the take-off point for the Gold Rush parents.” They saw Haines, too, then got lower back on the Alcan Highway via Tok to Delta Junction, went directly to Fairbanks, then grew to become south.
Talkeetna, they stated, changed into “a groovy ancient metropolis,” in which Denali-sure climbers begin their treks.
The town of Chicken boomed with gold miners a century in the past, but simply seven human beings live there now. The biggest traveller appeal is an massive chicken statue topped with signs and symptoms pointing to locations with bird-themed names around the world, like Chickabooga, Australia; Roosterberg, Belgium; Barnyard, Ky., and Cluck, N.M.
The Mumms camped simply seven miles north of Denali National Park. For six consecutive days, a rarity, they had been able to see Denali, North America’s tallest mountain at 20,320 feet. Due to Alaska’s common rain, many site visitors to Alaska don’t get to peer it in any respect. “They told us best 33 percent of vacationers see it, however we saw it six days in a row,” Ken stated.
They took an unforgettable sightseeing flight from Talkeetna to Ruth Glacier, internal Denali National Park.
In Soldatna, they camped in a provincial park alongside the Russian River. By then, nicely into June, travelers have been flocking to the nation, but the Mumms found out they had to begin lower back so they might attain Longmont, Colo., by using July 1 for their grandson’s seventh birthday. With regret, they gave up plans to pressure north to the Arctic Circle.
Driving home, their route took them through the widespread plains of japanese Alberta and Saskatchewan. “We ought to see as a ways as our eyes should see. It was stunning, too. We were inquisitive about the big cumulus clouds. They have been constantly there, and that they had been beautiful,” Bonnie stated. The plains of North Dakota had been memorable, too.
They were given a chunk street-weary as they headed towards the U.S., however as they stopped at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, then headed thru South Dakota and Wyoming in the direction of Longmont, they talked about all they’d visible.
Take Alaska’s length, as an example. “You consider Alaska as large, and it’s far, but whilst you examine maps you may’t consider how large it is, and how a ways it’s miles to get from one vicinity to some other.” Bonnie stated. On the trip, that they had seen a image of Texas superimposed over a map of Alaska. The sign stated, “‘Say hi to our little buddy Texas.’”