Kotzebue - Nome - Denali - Juneau
(Ruth Claassen tells of traveling by land cruiser and by posh cruise vessel)

"Eskimos, tundra, salmon, the whole bit!"

     Touring Alaska and then traveling the Alcan Highway south to a major port or airline hub is an experience that one should not miss, if at all possible. One can sense the difficulties that the early settlers overcame to survive in the harsh environment of this part of the world. You can't help but feel that the rugged Alcan terrain demanded that its inhabitants be equally rugged . . and they were.

     While today's Burger Kings, Home Depots, and Walmarts now dot the Northwest's landscape, one finds that many of the structures that were built during the 1860-1900 period still abound, particularly in the small communities in both Alaska and its adjacent Yukon Territory.

     Our CLUB 44 tour was most enjoyable in yet another way: it catered to us with different options. Some wanted to really "go Arctic" and for those of us that did there was a pre-tour add-on that flew the group north of the Arctic Circle to Kotzebue and Nome. This segment was pure Eskimo, caribou, and tundra all the way. And a few of us went to Prudhoe Bay, the front end of the Alaskan pipeline.

     Our primary travels took us from Anchorage to Denali and Fairbanks and then by motor coach on the Alcan through some of the most historic communities in the Pacific Northwest: Beaver Creek, Burwash Landing, Whitehorse, and Skagway. While many of our friends may name drop Vienna or Monte Carlo or Beijing on us, we usually stop them dead in their tracks when we describe the "Follies" at Whitehorse.

     Think our bumping along mile after mile on the Alcan was boring? No way. During the day there were many majestic vistas to observe - the terrain was truly beautiful. On our overnights in the well-appointed Westmark (Holland America) chain or in the oldtime saloons that we chose to patronize in the small towns, we did not suffer from a lack of good food, entertainment, and camaraderie.

     At our land tour's end in Juneau, we boarded the very elegant Noordam and cruised south for a few laid-back days in the inland passage before disembarking in Vancouver. In looking back, we recall that all of our CLUB 44 members logged time in a domed train, white river rafts, school bus (Denali transport), large paddlewheeler, and narrow gauge mountain railway as well as the cruise ship. The same itinerary is yours to experience and we highly recom-mend that you do so.

Ruth Leonard Claassen, BSHE 44
Vice President, Western Region
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