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Wisdom and Grace: North to Alaska - Part 4 - The final installment?


October 7, 2019

Courtesy Photo

Ila and Rod McClenahan pose for a photograph while on their trip in Alaska.

I promise. I promise! This is the last article I'm going to write about our trip this summer to Alaska. Several friends have asked if we plan to go again and our answer is "Yes, we would love to, but we have some places we would like to see in addition to Alaska ... like the Holy Land." We will see how that works out.

Rod and I have talked about what things we would do differently and what things we would like to do over. If we do go again, we would go a different direction. For instance, instead of riding the ferry north from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, we might ride the ferry south getting on at either Haines or Skagway, Alaska.

We thoroughly enjoyed the "Top of the World Highway" between Tok, Alaska, and Dawson City, Yukon. We had traveled it in 1989, but we certainly didn't remember all the mountains. At every crest of a mountain there was a new beauty to enjoy. Taking the free ferry across the Yukon River was a thrilling experience. We had done that in 1989, also but it seemed this time the Yukon was wider and swifter.

Sometimes the best things that happen are not expected at all. For instance, the Buffalo Center Drive-In in Delta Junction, Alaska, just caught our eye and sounded good. No buffalo (as the name indicates) for us cattle ranchers ... we enjoyed some of the best beef burgers we've ever had. And Fast Eddy's Café in Tok we had the best "Musher Omelet." Mmmmm.

At Fort Nelson, Yukon, Rod wanted to go to "Tim Horton's" for a hamburger. He had heard it advertised many times on the Canadian TV channels that we get. We walked in and looked and looked at the menu. The clerk asked, "Are you looking for something specific?"

"Yes," Rod answered, "a hamburger."

"Oh, we don't sell beef burgers, only plant-based sausage," the clerk responded.

"I am NOT eating where they sell fake beef. I'm out of here. And I'm never coming back!" Down the street we spied an "A & W Restaurant" and enjoyed a Papa Burger. Beef: It's what for supper. Real meat for real people.

We didn't stay in many commercial campgrounds, but there are two that stand out. We stayed at the Rivers Edge RV Park in Fairbanks and appreciated using the laundry facilities. The highlight for me was seeing a beaver swim by several times while evidently gathering branches to build a new home. I had never seen one that up close and personal. The folks in the next campsite were from Germany and it was fun to see how much they enjoyed watching the beaver.

Another one that stands out is the Cantwell RV Park south of Denali and Mount McKinley. An older couple were the operators and we were so impressed with the cleanliness and hospitality.

At Denali, we enjoyed the 11-hour bus trip into the base of Mount McKinley. It was a cloudy day and most of the mountain was covered in clouds. We were disappointed because the two other times we have been there we got to see it in all of its majesty. Just as we were leaving the clouds began to clear and we could see it. Only a third of the time is the mountain visible. We mentioned to the ranger that we were three for three in getting a clear view of the largest mountain in North America. The ranger responded, "Please come more often. You are fortunate. More people would like to see it."

One unexpected appreciation and awe of God's creation happened as we got closer to home. We left the Alcan Highway at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and headed south. Down the road we decided to turn back and visit Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta. We had been there twice before driving northward, but this time we started at the top and proceeded southward. Those mountains were absolutely gorgeous! As soon as we passed one majestic mountain, we would behold an equally or even more beautiful mountain ahead of us. We loved it.

We camped at the Jasper Ice Fields. In the morning we enjoyed one of our favorite eating places. This was on the upper floor of the visitor center above a five-star hotel. We enjoyed a rather expensive but mediocre breakfast buffet. But oh! The view was simply priceless! Our table by the window was a front row seat to the glaciers and icefields so unbelievably close. As we bowed our heads to thank our Lord for the food before us, we thanked Him for the beauty of His creation.

We tried stopping in Banff to see Lake Louise but the crowds and traffic were just too much. We calculated that if we "put the pedal to the medal" we could be far enough down the road to make the Wildhorse Port before it closed at 9:00 p.m.

So, on we went right through the middle of Calgary and onto Medicine Hat enjoying more agriculture and cattle than we had seen on the whole trip. We also saw oil and gas related industries with booming cities and towns.

We pressed on passing through Medicine Hat, Elkwater Park and the Cypress Hills. We passed the International Marker at the border that my great uncle Ed Whaley had helped to place. At the United States Customs, we were asked, "Where have you been?"

"Prudhoe Bay and the Artic Ocean."

"Where are you going now?"


"Where's home?"

"Just a few miles down the road to the Cottonwood Road, then to the Amos Trail and then on Road 140."

"Have a good evening. Proceed."

Courtesy Photo

Ila McClenahan wading in the Artic Ocean. Brrrr!

It was a wonderful trip and we are so very happy that we went. But it was so nice to be going home. We traveled the route that we had explained to the customs agent. We turned onto the lane that leads into our house. We looked to the left and there was our daughter Laura, her husband Tim and Kami, Karter, Kord, Kace and Knox. We had seen a lot of beautiful, inspirational sights on our trip but none were better than seeing our family and farm. There really is no place like home.

"So, whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do (or wherever you travel), do it all for the glory of God." I Corinthians 10:31


Ila McClenahan is a retired chaplain and activity director living north of Havre in the Amos Community where she was raised. She spends her time speaking for Christian events, volunteering for community organizations, and chauffeuring grandkids.


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