My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Hoonah! A location I can fly to and from in ONE Day!!!

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What a beautiful day to fly to Hoonah.  Hoonah is 35 miles from Juneau but of course only accessible by boat or plane, so in these days I travel mostly by plane!  It was a BEAUTIFUL blue-skied day and I wish it had been a longer flight actually!

Hoonah is on Chichagof Island, one of the ABC Islands near Juneau, (Admiralty, Baranof, Chichagof).  It is the third largest island in Alaska and the 5th largest in the U.S.  Almost 900 residents live here. Hoonah is also the largest Tlingit (pronounced  “KLIN-kit”) village in Alaska.  The Huna tribe has lived in this area since prehistoric times.  Legend says that the first inhabitants were in Glacier Bay but were destroyed as the glaciers advanced.  Hoonah translates in Tlingit to “where the north wind doesn’t blow.”

Hoonah is a great fishing port and there is the Hoonah Packing Co. in town.  However, in the past few years the town has become a bit more of a tourist destination as Icy Strait Point opened and highlights the culture of the area to cruise ship visitors.

I knew the school board would not be too excited to work inside all day, but they were all good sports and got to work.  At one point we had to take a break to allow them to go to City Hall as both their State Senator and Legislator were in town to talk about a proposed new dock in town.  It allowed me to take a nice walk through town and take some pictures!  What fun as it was a beautiful day.

We finished the workshop and the board was really happy with their accomplishment that day, and I was happy to get them moving along on their goals for improving their school for their students.

Flying home was almost better than flying there… and I have posted a lot of pictures from that trip.  Enjoy and watch for my next trip to the Pribilof Islands, St. Paul and St. George, out in the Bering Sea!


Gustavus, Alaska, home of Glacier Bay!

Gustavus is 48 air miles west of Juneau, and is the “gateway” to Glacier Bay National Park.  Gustavus was created because receding glaciers and is surrounded by the mountains and icefields of Glacier Bay National Park on three sides and the ocean on the other. However, it is almost all flat, as it spreads across a large plain left behind by the glaciers. Year round there are less than 500 people in Gustavus and in turn it has as much wildlife as people! Wolves, moose, bear, whales and many other wildlife fill the area.   As I flew in it seemed a bit odd to me how ‘far’ away the mountains seemed, not typical of other places here in SE Alaska.  It was an interesting perspective to fly in as the other visits I have made here have been by boat.

Point Adolphus, could be seen from the air as we flew into Gustavus, however there wasn’t much whale activity as there is in the summer when the area is known as a great humpback whale feeding area.  The pictures of that here on the blog were from a boat trip I took there several summers ago.

Again the area that Gustavus sits on was formed when the glaciers receded and left a nice flat area for people to call home.  The town itself is less than one hundred years old. Homesteaders began arriving in 1917 to an area they dubbed Strawberry Point. In 1925 the name became Gustavus, when the U.S. Post Office required a change for its new post office, although locals continued calling it Strawberry Point and it should not be surprising that strawberries are still a big commodity in Gustavus.

At the Homestead B and B where I stayed with Sally and Tom I actually had strawberries for breakfast that Sally had picked from her garden in the summer.  She also served me rhubarb jam that was also quite tasty.   The richness of the community is shared by all that live here.  It is a very close community and everyone waves to everyone else as you drive down the roads.

My host gave me a wonderful 1.5 hour tour of the area so I feel like I saw every nook and cranny, as it is not that big of an area.  I can’t wait to take my mom here on an upcoming visit.  She would love the history and all the quirks of this community.


from -33 Tuesday to 37 aboveThursday, that’s how we roll in Alaska

From Tok I backtracked to Delta Junction. DJ is where the Delta River and the Tanana River meet as well as being the intersection of the Richardson Highway and the END of the Alaska Highway.  There are beautiful mountains that are off in the distance,  and I have included some photos of them, as it was a beautiful sunny day as I drove the 102 miles from Tok to DJ.  It also warmed up significantly and was almost warm, here was a 70 degree shift is weather in 2 days!

Some quick history on DJ as it is quite interesting.  During WW II as US helped Soviet Union against Germany, the AK Highway was built connecting roads with Canada.  The roads met in an areas known and later called Delta Junction!  Eventually the Glenn Highway was built connecting this area to Anchorage.  This was a great place to have shipments come through and the area grew.  In our world today, this is known as the Golden Triangle Drive, Anchorage to Tok to Fairbanks.

After WW II Fort Greely an army base was built and used to train soldiers for cold weather combat during the Cold War. (the -33 can help you understand why it was good for that reason!)

Ironically, during the 1990s and 2000s, immigrants from the former Soviet republics came to the area, significantly changing the makeup of the local population and to this day the district has a large population of students from Russia and other Soviet areas.  Actually there was just a restaurant opened that is called “Taste of Europe” that served amazing pelmeni’s, piroshki’s, and other great Russian dishes.

I get to work with this board yearly and have come to love the 2 hour drive from Fairbanks to here, it is beautiful and I dream of riding it on my motorcycle sometime!

I will be home until the 15th, watch for more from my Alaska travels after that!  Next trip, Gustavus, home of Glacier Bay National Park!

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5 moose sightings, 4 hour car ride, 3 books on tape, 2 plane flights and 1 large Ice Tea!

Left Juneau on early morning flight and it was POURING rain, a huge disappointment after all the snow we had been getting.  I got about 3 miles from the house and wondered why the road was so blurry, and suddenly realized I did not have my glasses on!  Ran back to the house and grabbed them and still had plenty of time to get to the airport by 6:15 a.m. (reminder, I am NOT a morning person).

Flight flight, Juneau to Anchorage was smooth, with a short stay in the ANC airport before flight from ANC to Fairbanks.  Landed about 11 a.m. and it was COLD!  Signs were reading -33, but it had warmed up from -50 days earlier.

Stopped at a store where I had hoped I could purchase a “skhoop” down skirt, it is fancier than a pair of snow pants, but serves the same purpose, another layer in the cold weather.  Sadly they only had S and M, the same sizes that the store in Juneau had.  Oh well, by next winter I will own one!

Off to Tok, (sounds like Coke) a 211 mile drive.  Had to balance getting a large Ice tea for the ride with the thought of “where will I go to the bathroom if I have to”, so in the end took a tea with me, BUT only drank ½.

The first 2 hours of the drive is on Highway 2, and there were several other drivers on the road.  I passed cars every 10 minutes or so.  I also came upon a jackknifed semi-truck who had simply miscalculated how icy the roads were.  I slowed as I approached him, but he gave me the thumbs up and I continued on my way.

Once I passed through the town of Delta Junction I hopped onto Highway 1 or the Alaska Highway I was suddenly virtually alone.  For the 100+ miles I believe I only saw 2 other cars and those were at the end closer to my final destination of Tok.  However, I was NOT alone on this highway.  I saw several moose along this ride.  There was a cow (female moose) and her calf about 1000 feet down the road.  Thankfully it was a bright clear day so I was not worried that I would come upon one in the middle of the road without  warning!

Arrived to Tok with no issues and there was still daylight.  It was cold but no wind so that helped.  My room at Young’s Hotel was basic, clean and nice, and actually quiet UNTIL 11 p.m. when a large truck pulled into the lot beside my room and individuals checked into the room next to me.  I began to hear dogs barking and wondered what the heck was going on… it was not until the next morning that I realized it was a “Dog Team” from Canada who I assume were on their way to run the Yukon Quest.  The funniest part were the dozen circles of ‘yellow snow” that filled the parking lot in the morning!

Tok is the headquarters of the Alaska Gateway School District. AGSD encompasses 28,000 square miles  (about the size of South Carolina) extending north from the Alaska Range to the Yukon River and Canadian border. Schools are located in the communities of

  • Dot Lake
  • Eagle, (a fly to only site 7 months of the year)
  • Mentasta Lake
  • Northway
  • Tanacross
  • Tetlin
  • Tok

Pictures include, moose, signs around Tok, some of the scenery and my car plugged in so that it would stay charged in the deep cold weather.