Tag Archives: vehicle

SS Nenana Day

On Saturday at Pioneer Park, the Borough will celebrate SS Nenana Day, to honor the Last Lady of the River.

The SS Nenana steamed the waters of the Yukon and Tanana Rivers between 1933 and 1954. It was officially retired in 1957, and has been a museum ship since 1965.

The SS Nenana; Photo credit: Fairbanks North Star Borough

The Nenana is one of only three steam-powered passenger sternwheelers left in the U.S. and the only large wooden steamer to survive the years.

Inside the Nenana’s wheelhouse

The Nenana has been neglected, restored, and then neglected once again. Efforts, including today’s celebration at Pioneer Park, are underway to try to stabilize, and hopefully restore the Last Lady of the Yukon.


A snowy Denali National Park

The view across Denali National Park at the end of May, 2022

In the 99 years of record keeping within Denali National Park, the winter of 2021-22 was the record setter. 176 inches of snow fell at park headquarters this past winter, breaking the 174″ of 1970-71.

As of May 15, there were still 33″ of snow on the ground at the park’s headquarters, far above average for this late in the season.

It’s been a tough winter for wildlife, particularly moose, who have had to fight the deep drifts. Both moose and bears have been traveling on the park road, so traffic has been limited past Sable Pass. Bicyclists normally can travel up & down the park road, but with the stressed wildlife, that will remain limited until the snow melts.

The shuttle bus will only be traveling as far as Pretty Rocks, due to the road collapse from the melting ice formation.

The park’s visitor center will be open for the first time since 2019, and the park’s sled dog kennel will also be open for tours. 2022 is the 100th anniversary for the Denali Park Sled Dog Kennel.


Alaska Time

A landslide across Lowell Point Road, outside Seward, Alaska

A landslide blocked Lowell Point Road in Seward over the weekend. Workers began to cautiously clear the road on Monday. Lowell Point is outside Seward, and the narrow gravel road follows the shoreline of Resurrection Bay out to the point, where there are several campgrounds, lodges, resorts and B&B’s. It’s a pretty area, dominated by the beauty of Resurrection Bay. As of Tuesday, there were at least 40 cars trapped on the “wrong” side of the landslide. No word on how many travelers, who were trying to get out to Lowell Point, and now can not get to their destination.

The landslide view from the air

This post is less about the landslide, and more about giving yourself extra time when visiting Alaska, and accepting the unexpected.

This is Alaska, after all.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints online about the slide from tourists, and I know several housing accommodations have taken some flack for the road closure. No matter where you are in Alaska, and this includes Los Anchorage, you are never very far from wilderness. That is the main draw of the place.

Our infrastructure is minimal when compared with the Lower 48. Many communities have one way in and one way out. In my time in Alaska, I’ve probably seen it all: Roads closed from landslides, wash outs, beaver dams, ornery moose and/or grizzly, avalanche and wildfires. Flights delayed or rushed because of blizzards, volcanic eruptions, and pilot strikes. Sometimes, all you can do is take a deep breath, open a cold refreshment, and chill out for a day… or two…

We all have deadlines, but sometimes we find ourselves dealing with forces that have no interest in flight departures. So, if you visit Alaska, by all means, get out and explore the state, but leave the time planner at home. Enjoy both the view and the ride.


ProNyne Motorsports Museum

Pawtucket, RI

On our off day between hockey days, we drove out to Rhode Island to check out the ProNyne Motorsports Museum. We had a Pawtucket guide along for the ride as well, a newly minted Puckhead from Australia.

Dan Meservey’s “Coke Machine”

ProNyne is dedicated to New England’s racing history, and the museum is an absolute treasure trove of New England racing memorabilia.

The Bugs Stevens section

Curator Ric Mariscal was kind enough to open the doors and give us a tour on a Friday, and he even turned on a heater, although I’m not sure any of us would have minded if that had skipped that part.

The museum is packed, but well organized, although we definitely imagined what an adventure it would be to get one of the cars out for a special event.

Ole Blue

Every corner comes loaded with stories, even the barber chair. When you stop in, you should ask about the barber chair. The walls are covered with photos, and the books and articles are readily available to peruse. The place is a researcher’s dream; trust me, we had one with us.

Bill Slater’s Studebaker

New England is not my “neck of the woods” by any stretch of the imagination, and I found myself absolutely fascinated by one car in particular: Bill Slater’s 1954 Studebaker. The car was found in a field, and now rests peacefully against an interior wall of the museum. For me, it did not take a lot of imagination to picture the Studebaker speeding around Daytona at 100mph with Slater behind the wheel.

The #23 Studebaker in better days
Bill Slater driving the 23 Studebaker in 1963; Lee Roy Yarbrough is in the 70 car
The ’54 Studebaker in the “Wild” Bill Slater corner

For anyone remotely interested in racing, the ProNyne Motorsports Museum is well worth the visit. It was an unexpected gem of a destination on this trip.


Alaska Travel: 2022

The Togiak Basketball Team

Basketball is THE sport in remote Alaska. Many teams have not traveled to games since early 2020. Dillingham, with The Sockeye Classic, was one of the first communities to host teams for a tournament at the end of January 2022.

Weather threatened to keep the teams from Togiak from traveling to Dillingham. High winds kept any planes on the ground, and there are no roads connecting the network of communities around Bristol Bay. The student athletes, parents and teachers agreed to get together some snowmachines, and travel the 80 miles across the tundra to the tournament.

The trip took six hours instead of the expected four, and one sled broke down along the route, but the trekkers made it to Dillingham and were able to finally play against someone other than themselves in over two years.

Have route, will travel.


The Pupmobile

A dog team pulling a pupmobile on the Seward Peninsula; Library of Congress

Mostly used out of Nome on the Seward Peninsula, the pupmobile, was a small railroad car that was pulled by a team of dogs. It was common practice in the first 2-3 decades of the 1900’s, as most of the railroad tracks had been abandoned, and sled dogs were the main mode of transportation.


The opening of the Al-Can

The first truck through, November 1942

The anniversary of the first truck to travel the Alaska Highway was on Saturday, 20 November. The truck was the first to drive from Dawson to Whitehorse, and then from Whitehorse to Fairbanks. In 1942, that must have been one chilly ride.

The Alaska Highway Guide; 1948

In 1948, The Alaska Highway Guide was published, which listed the scant accommodations and services along the route. The Milepost, which today is the bible of Al-Can travel, would be published for the first time in 1949.


Sourdough Wisdom

A rear-wheeled drive GMC Adventure

Overheard the other day:

An elderly resident was asked what’s the best rig for Interior Alaska. He replied, “A two wheel drive pickup.”

There was some shock, and surprise in the answer, as well as a few snickers.

The Sourdough went on to say, “In a four wheel drive truck with a winch, you will get stuck 40 miles away. In a four wheel drive rig, you’ll get stuck 20 miles away. In a front wheel drive vehicle, you might get stuck 10 miles away. But in a rear wheel drive pick up truck, you’ll get stuck at the end of your road, and you can walk back home and have a beer while waiting for the road to get plowed.


Bug Humor:

Courtesy of the Knoxville Kiwi

This image was brought to my attention by my friend in New Zealand. It gave me an immediate laugh.


Frozen Load

October is American Archives Month:

October 1942

The building of the Alaska Highway. Even in October, the load of dirt has frozen to the bed of the dump truck.

Photo is from the National Archives