TCM: There’s a limit to how many fish you can catch in one day?
John: When we went out on the charter, the limit was two Halibut a day. In Soldotna it was three Red Sockeyes a day, but there were so many out running they upped it to six a day. There are wildlife game wardens out there and even Alaska State Troopers will check to make sure people only take their limit.
The game wardens will dress like regular people, so you don’t know who they are. We did see people get a ticket. I was never asked for a license or anything. I got an Alaskan annual license, but you can get monthly or weekly license. I think it was $140.
TCM: From your blog, it looks like you encountered quite a few bears on your trip. Did you ever get too close?
John: Twenty feet. Is that close? I was taking pictures and a grizzly was on the edge of the river. I was on the bank and I was talking to him. He turned around and I got a picture.
Linda: They wanted the fish, so they weren’t paying attention to us.
John: When we were in the Canadian Rockies, just north of British Columbia in the Yukon, we saw black bears. There were dandelions on the side of the road, which is a favorite food of the black bears. They were right next to the road. We would stop to roll down the window, and they would walk off like it didn’t bother them. We didn’t have any incidents where we felt threatened.
Above: The Mendenhall Glacier and a federal campground in Juneau, Alaska
We pulled up to Mendenhall Glacier, where you and Gordon got married, and saw people looking over the handrail. There was a big black bear over in the woods. Later in the Visitor’s Center, a guy was really excited. There were about five to six people in a group and that same bear walked up to their group like he was joining them. Someone told him that there was a bear behind him and he got a picture on his cell phone. Then the bear turned and walked off. The bears are curious.
Linda: Don’t feed the bears or leave food out.
John: The saying in Alaska is, “A fed bear is a dead bear.” If you leave food on a picnic table, you could get a $5,000 fine. When we were camping in Denali, we left motor oil and a windshield washer on the truck’s bumper. I also have an ice chest on the front of the truck. We came back and the rangers had taken the oil and washer and put them in the food lockers and told us that we had to get ice chest off the truck.
Linda: Apparently bears are attracted to oil products. When the rangers found out that we had no food in our ice chest, he said we could keep it there on our truck.
Above: Denali State Park, we had better views from the state park than we did from Denali National Park.
TCM: Did you have to make reservations for Denali ahead of time?
Linda: We made reservations for Denali a couple days in advance. We stayed at Riley Creek, which is the first campground in the park, and Teklanika River, the campground about thirty miles in. At the Teklanika River, you have to commit to three nights. They want to cut down on the amount of traffic that goes in and out of the National Park.
Several buses run daily to take campers to Wonder Lake where there is a great view of Mt McKinley’s reflection in the lake if the weather cooperates. Bus tickets can be purchased at check-in to the campground. Anyone sixty-two or older can save National Park entrance fees with an America the Beautiful Pass.
John: Speaking of deals, Chet and Cindy told us about the Alaska TourSaver coupon book that you get for $100. It saved us a ton of money.
Linda: We got it online before we went. It got us discounts on the Discovery Riverboat Cruise and the mine in Fairbanks. For the glacier cruise, we got a buy one ticket, get one ticket free and saved us $150. There were many coupons, for salmon bakes, free souvenirs and free food. Some Safeways sell them, and if you spend $100 in the store, you get ten cents a gallon off gas. Just be careful as some Safeways were out of them.
TCM: I see from your blog that you went to some of the Inside Passage towns and cities via the Alaska Marine Highway. What was that like?
John: We boarded the Alaska Marine Highway in Haines and then it was four hours to Juneau. That ferry had a cafeteria, lounge, movie room, and an observation area. We were in Juneau for two days.