This summer, Travel Guide publisher Scott Graber flew out of Homer for a guided visit to what is described as one of the top 3 wildlife viewing destinations in the world, the Hallo Bay Bear Camp in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Hallo Bay is the longest established wilderness guide company on the Pacific Coast of Katmai, a special place renowned for its dense (and friendly!) brown bear population.
The Disney crew was filming right alongside him for a couple of days as they witnessed a playful mom grizzly chewing on her cub’s face, and a relaxed male lolling from side to side on a fallen tree, peering at the photographers! The Travel Guide video of the encounters will be up on our sight in October, so check back with us soon!
Discovery Channel’s two Alaska Gold Mining Programs Dominate Ratings and Prime Time
GOLD RUSH IS BACK! Season # 3
• Discovery Channel’s hit series GOLD RUSH, which follows men in a difficult economy who risk everything to strike it rich gold mining, gets the green light for a third season. The season two finale is slated for Friday, February 24th at 9PM E/P. Following the finale, Discovery Channel will air two all new behind-the-scenes specials, providing an inside look at the miners and what went into making the top-rated series.
• Fridays at 10PM E/P BERING SEA GOLD focuses on the salty and eccentric characters who spend hours on the rocky, frigid ocean floor hunting gold from custom built, sometimes barely seaworthy rigs. From the desperate to the diabolical, the Nome gold fleet takes on all comers, and the brutal Bering Sea does the rest.
Wondering where to get started in planning a vacation to the scenic Northwest? Feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of Western Canada and all the natural and historic wonders you’ve heard about? Unclear if you’ll need to travel the Alaska Highway on a budget or cruise the Inside Passage in style? One of the very best ways to get answers to all your travel questions, be inspired by thousands of knock-out photos and fabulous videos, and pull all the threads of your different travel plans into one cohesive whole, is to visit the folks who have been producing Vacation Country Travel Guide for 35 years.
The physical, 368-page guide is published annually by a man who has been motoring from Montana to Alaska and back EVERY summer for decades, capturing the true flavor and excitement of the road, and documenting the extraordinary beauty of Western North America in exceptional photography and video. The Travel Guide website is laid out in a very easy-to-understand format that can whisk you away to every corner of their coverage area, or allow you to efficiently zero in on your precise destination.
An invaluable resource, http://www.travelguidebook.com is full of practical tips on where to find the best coffee and cinnamon buns, the most scrumptious Copper River salmon dinner, the finest deals on lodging, flight seeing, whale and bear viewing, river boat tours, Gold Rush extravaganzas and everything in between. Feature stories cover the NWT Ice Roads and Deadliest Catch king crab fishing of Discovery Channel fame, easy ways to experience Alaska by motorcycle, Kodiak Island and its brown bears, life in the Yukon’s famous Dawson City, travel beyond the Arctic Circle, aurora viewing in the steamy comfort of hot springs, and wildlife and glacier viewing by boat, to name just a handful.
The website also provides maps, regional news, weather, gas prices, road reports and highway camera access. Some of the region’s most stunning videos can be found at Travel Guide, including rare footage of THREE bighorn sheep rams butting horns, and a crystal clear tidewater glacier calving with deafening thunder into the sea.
So if you’ve always wanted to make your own path alongside the Lewis and Clark Trail or Alberta’s Dinosaur Trail, sail up British Columbia’s pristine coastline into the tranquility of Southeast Alaska, experience the untrodden splendor of the Mackenzie River Delta, relive the dazzle of the Yukon Gold Rush or allow the great state of Alaska to sear its mark on your awestruck soul, be sure to visit Travel Guide and start reaping the remarkable benefits of their first-hand experience of the North.
We’ve mailed out and delivered many copies of our latest, 368-page, FREE Travel Guide, and publisher Scott Graber is currently on his way through Canada then on into Alaska, hand-delivering many more – to our advertisers, local Chambers and Visitors Centers. We’re also in the process of placing updated editorial, the 2011 ads and more photos on our website. Be sure to check out our great videos at www.youtube.com/travelguidebook and visit our website at http://www.travelguidebook.com.
You can’t compare it to any other competitive event in the world! A race over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer. She throws jagged mountain ranges, frozen river, dense forest, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. Add to that temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills, and you have the Iditarod. A race extraordinaire, a race only possible in Alaska.
From Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast, each team of 12 to 16 dogs and their musher cover over 1150 miles in 10 to 17 days. It has been called the “Last Great Race on Earth” and it has won worldwide acclaim and interest. German, Spanish, British, Japanese and American film crews have covered the event. Journalists from outdoor magazines, adventure magazines, newspapers and wire services flock to Anchorage and Nome to record the excitement. It’s not just a dog sled race, it’s a race in which unique men and woman compete. Mushers enter from all walks of life. Fishermen, lawyers, doctors, miners, artists, natives, Canadians, Swiss, French and others; men and women each with their own story, each with their own reasons for going the distance. It’s a race organized and run primarily by volunteers, thousands of volunteers, men and women, students and village residents. They man headquarters at Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome and Wasilla. They fly volunteers, veterinarians, dog food and supplies. They act as checkers, coordinators, and family supporters of each musher. The race pits man and animal against nature, against wild Alaska at her best and as each mile is covered, a tribute to Alaska’s past is issued.
The Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the interior mining camps at Flat, Ophir, Ruby and beyond to the west coast communities of Unalakleet, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain and Nome. Mail and supplies went in. Gold came out. All via dog sled. Heroes were made, legends were born. In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for epidemic-stricken Nome. Diphtheria threatened and serum had to be brought in; again by intrepid dog mushers and their faithful hard-driving dogs.
Anchorage is the starting line — a city of over 250,000 people, street lights, freeways and traffic. From there the field of dog teams which grow in number each year, runs to Eagle River, Checkpoint # 1. After a restart in the Matanuska Valley at Willow, the mushers leave the land of highways and bustling activity and head out to the Yentna Station Roadhouse and Skwentna and then up! Through Finger Lake, Rainy Pass, over the Alaska Range and down the other side to the Kuskokwim River — Rohn Roadhouse, Nikolai, McGrath, Ophir, Cripple, Iditarod and on to the mighty Yukon — a river highway that takes the teams west through the arctic tundra.
The race route is alternated every other year, one year going north through Cripple, Ruby and Galena, the next year south through Iditarod, Shageluk, Anvik. Finally, they’re on the coast — Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain and into Nome where a hero’s welcome is the custom for musher number 1 or 61!
The route encompasses large metropolitan areas and small native villages. It causes a yearly spurt of activity, increased airplane traffic and excitement to areas otherwise quiet and dormant during the long Alaskan winter. Everyone gets involved, from very young school children to the old timers who relive the colorful Alaskan past they’ve known as they watch each musher and his team. The race is an educational opportunity and an economic stimulus to these small Alaskan outposts.
Every musher has a different tactic. Each one has a special menu for feeding and snacking the dogs. Each one has a different strategy — some run in the daylight, some run at night. Each one has a different training schedule and his own ideas on dog care, dog stamina and his own personal ability. The rules of the race lay out certain regulations which each musher must abide by. There are certain pieces of equipment each team must have — an arctic parka, a heavy sleeping bag, an ax, snowshoes, musher food, dog food and boots for each dog’s feet to protect against cutting ice and hard packed snow injuries. Some mushers spend an entire year getting ready and raising the money needed to get to Nome. Some prepare around a full-time job. In addition to planning the equipment and feeding needs for up to three weeks on the trail, hundreds of hours and hundreds of miles of training have to be put on each team.
There are names which are automatically associated with the race — Joe Redington, Sr., co-founder of the classic and affectionately know as “Father of the Iditarod.” Rick Swenson from Two River, Alaska, the only five time winner, the only musher to have entered 20 Iditarod races and never finished out of the top ten. Dick Mackey from Nenana who beat Swenson by one second in 1978 to achieve the impossible photo finish after two weeks on the trail. Norman Vaughan who at the age of 88 has finished the race four times and led an expedition to Antarctica in the winter of 93–94. Four time winner, Susan Butcher, was the first woman to ever place in the top 10. And of course, Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod in 1985.
There are others — Herbie Nayokpuk, Shishmaref; Emmitt Peters, Ruby, whose record set in 1975 was not broken until 1980, when Joe May, Trapper Creek, knocked seven hours off the record… the flying Anderson’s, Babe and Eep, from McGrath.. Rick Mackey, who wearing his father Dick’s winning #13, crossed the finish line first in 1983, making them the only father and son to have both won an Iditarod… Joe Runyan, 1989 champion and the only musher to have won the Alpirod (European long distance race), the Yukon Quest, (long distance race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, YT) and the Iditarod… Terry Adkins, retired from the United States Air Force, the only veterinarian on the first Iditarod and one of the two musher to have completed 20 out of 23 Iditarods. (The other is Rick Swenson.) The list goes on, each name bringing with it a tale of adventure, a feeling of accomplishment, a touch of hero. Each musher, whether in the top ten, or winner of the Red Lantern (last place) has accomplished a feat few dare to attempt. Each has gone the distance and established a place for their team in the annals of Iditarod lore.
Take a look at our newest video on www.youtube.com/travelguidebook, featuring the 2011 Iditarod, shot by one of our folks in Alaska. Find a ton of additional information on Alaska and all the rest of the Pacific Northwest at http://www.travelguidebook.com, including our coverage of Iditarod musher Matt Hayashida.
Take a look at our newest video on www.youtube.com/travelguidebook, featuring the Mount Roberts Tramway, and soar to new heights in scenic adventure aboard the top attraction in Juneau. At the breathtaking top, visitors can hike, treat themselves to excellent seafood and local brews in the Timberline Bar & Grill, watch Native artisans at work in the gift shop and gallery, and take advantage of unique opportunities to view wildlife, wild flowers and the stupendous rainforest landscape and seascape spread out below. Find a ton of additional information on Juneau, Southeast Alaska and all the rest of the Pacific Northwest at http://www.travelguidebook.com.
Discovery Channel has this to say about their new program entitled Gold Rush: Alaska. The series follows six men who, in the face of an economic meltdown, risk everything – their families, their dignity, and in some cases, their lives – to strike it rich mining for gold in the wilds of Alaska. Inspired by his father Jack, Todd Hoffman of Sandy, Oregon, leads a group of greenhorn miners to forge a new frontier and save their families from dire straits. While leasing a gold claim in Alaska, Todd and his company of newbies face the grandeur of Alaska as well as its hardships, including an impending winter that will halt operations and the opportunity to strike gold.
In an effort to keep the operation running, the team takes fate into their own hands with a make or break venture that will change their lives forever. After watching the steady decline of his aviation business in Oregon due to the stalled economy, Todd searched for new opportunities. With the price of gold on the rise, he came up with a plan to mine for the mineral in southeast Alaska, where there’s an estimated $250 billion worth of gold. The mystique of Alaska draws Todd to the Porcupine Creek claim in southeastern Alaska where his father Jack mined for three seasons in the 1980s before he nearly went bankrupt. But the rate of gold discoveries in Alaska over the past two decades has increased exponentially and almost 200 million ounces of gold have been identified for potential recovery.
Todd and Jack look to their community in Oregon for a team of men to work the mines alongside them, knowing dire economic straits have hit those around them hardest. They have no financial means to pay them until — or unless — they find gold. It’s a risk, but with high unemployment in Oregon, there’s no shortage of interest. All four men on the assembled team have fallen hard. Sheet-metal worker Jim Thurber is about to lose his house. Realtor Jimmy Dorsey is so broke he lives with his mother-in-law. Mechanic James Harness has destroyed his back in a car wreck and needs money for surgery. Greg Remsburg’s last construction job was a year ago.
The mine at Porcupine Creek is located in the heart of one of the last great wildernesses, where weather conditions can change in an instant. The claim is surrounded by the largest bald eagle population on earth, and a nearby river is the site of a year-round salmon run. Grizzly bears and moose sightings happen daily, and the team must be prepared for some seriously close encounters. Armed with the hope and ferocity to rekindle the original American Dream, GOLD RUSH: ALASKA shines a spotlight on this group of enthusiasts. In essence, these are the new “’49ers,” going back to the roots this country was founded on: hard labor, blood, sweat and tears. The men put it all on the line in the biggest gamble of their lives, and the hunt is on to strike it rich — or go bust. VIsit Discovery Channel at dsc.discovery.com.
Our Travel Guide Youtube Channel at www.youtube.com/travelguidebook features a great video you’ll enjoy seeing about the historical and contemporary search for Alaskan gold. The “Klondike Gold Fields” is a complex in Skagway, Alaska that offers a host of different family-oriented Gold Rush era adventures, including gold panning in warm water troughs with guaranteed gold in every pan, touring an authentic 350-ton gold dredge and their handcrafted root beer and beer brewery.
To learn even more about traveling to Alaska and experiencing its golden adventures, be sure to explore http://www.travelguidebook.com for complete travel information throughout the US Pacific Northwest, Western Canada and Alaska.
Now is the best time to start planning your 2011 vacation to Alaska, and one of the most affordable ways to see the 49th state is on the Alaska Marine Highway. The state ferry system is a perfect way to travel – relaxing, hassle-free and full of opportunities to view and photograph scenery and wildlife. In fact, the entire route is so unique, it’s been named a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road.
GET A FREE STATE TRAVEL PLANNER!
Alaska has the right tools to get your vacation rolling – and best of all, they’re free! Click here to request a free official State of Alaska vacation planner. You’ll find page after page of helpful travel tips, plus sample itineraries. Can’t wait for the mail? Then visit the official trip planning website at www.travelalaska.com.
WATCH HOW EASY IT IS TO BRING YOUR VEHICLE!
Whether you plan to explore Alaska with your motorcycle, car or RV, save on mileage and let us do the driving. Just click on the video below to see how easy it is to drive onboard and start your vacation.
So if you’re planning to travel with a vehicle, don’t hesitate. Call to reserve your space today! Put your vacation plans in motion. For more information, visit our website @ FERRYALASKA.COM or call 1-800-642-0066
TLC Channel will air the final installment of Sarah Palin’s Alaska Special on Sunday January 9 at 9/8C. After searching in the Nome area for gold for Mom’s anniversary, Palin explores the tranquil beauty of the Alaskan coast by kayak. Visit Travel Guide’s website at http://www.travelguidebook.com for detailed information on Nome, the history of gold mining in Alaska, information on coastal sights and towns, and every other detail of a great vacation to Alaska and other northern points.
In this past week’s TLC Channel Alaska Special episode dealing with logging, Sarah Palin later visited Fraser Lake Fish Pass Bear Viewing area about 70 miles southwest of the city of Kodiak, recognized as one of the island’s best destinations for watching the antics of these fishing behemoths. Our Travel Guide publisher has flown to the same spot with Andrew Airways, and our http://www.travelguidebook.com website has many great photographs of the Fraser brown bears, as well as an article under Featured Stories titled “Kodiak Island and Its Bears.” Be sure to watch our Youtube video of bear viewing with Andrew Airways at www.youtube.com/travelguidebook then book a visit with them yourself!