ALASKAN ADVENTURE by Jane Karlston
Letters from the road.
Tom and Jane Karlston take us along as they head north to Alaska for the trip of a lifetime!
A trip to Alaska seems to be on everyone’s Bucket List and if you appreciate wildlife and beautiful remote scenery this could be a trip of a lifetime. We took our first coach trip to Alaska in our new 2009 Millennium H3 45 (S2) in the summer of 2009. Our focus was sightseeing with no planned itinerary and no reservations!
With a Milepost publication we headed North via the Yellowhead and Alaska Highways and returned South via the Cassiar Highway through remote British Columbia (BC) and the Yukon Territory (YT). We’d definitely recommend a tow vehicle visit to Banff and Jasper.
We traveled to Dawson City, YT and across the Yukon River on the free ferry on to the Top of the World Highway toward Tok, AK. Although this route is usually not recommended because of many miles of rough silt covered roads, it was a fabulous experience and our Millennium did great – no dust inside the house. Amazing since we were our own dust bowl as we moved slowly along this very narrow road. Our Millennium’s built in pressure washer proved to be a very good friend and the coach washing service in Tok, AK is a must!
Fairbanks and Denali NP are unique and well worth the visit although we suggest using only Park Service tours for Denali. The Kenai Peninsula is our favorite area of AK. Seward (Marine Wildlife Center), Soldotna, Kenai, and Homer are all beautiful with nice RV parks, sightseeing, shopping and fishing opportunities. Valdez offers awesome scenery and worth a few days’ stay with its beautiful harbor, fishing fleet, bears and other wildlife. All along the way we were treated to black and grizzly bears, sheep, moose, caribou, eagles and other wonderful wildlife.
We decided to take the ferry from Haines to Skagway, AK. With a 25-foot low tide, the exit from the ferry to the street in Skagway was exciting to say the least. The crew of the ferry made up for the extremely steep ramp from the ferry with many timbers being moved between our coach axles. The loud timber cracking sounds were a “bit” of a concern – but no damage to the coaches. The next time we have this idea we will check on the tide levels and wait for a lesser tide! Our stop in Hyder, AK on the way south was an awesome experience. The observation point to view salmon fishing grizzly and black bear close up is too special for words. During our most recent trip we traveled with our boat and jeep on our coach boat/car trailer we made a stop in Valez to “test drive” our Florida boat in Alaskan waters. All went well and in a few days we had reloaded the boat onto the trailer and were “combat” fishing for Red/Sockeye Salmon standing in hip boots in the Kenai River near Soldotna, AK. We filled one chest freezer with Reds and purchased a second chest freezer with the hopes of good luck Silver/Coho Salmon fishing in the ocean outside of Valdez. The first bay in our Millennium held both freezers easily and fish filleting and processing inside was not a problem because of our easy-care all granite floors and large counter space. A couple glasses of wine or beer helped our fish processing attitude. Space at RV parks was not a problem and there were plenty of large roadside parking areas if you want to skip some campgrounds. Our Millennium is especially comfortable for dry camping with its large battery and holding tank capacity.
The cool and wet AK weather of the summer of 2011 was not an issue with our focus on fishing. It was convenient to visit Kenai and Homer in our Jeep. After a quick flight home to FL with the coach parked in an Anchorage RV park we were on to Valdez Narrows and Bay waters for Silver/Coho Salmon fishing using our own boat. We took some kidding from locals about our Florida registered boat that “there were no inland waterways in Alaska”.
With a lovely drive south along the Cassiar Highway to the contiguous US we made our plan for another coach and fishing trip to Alaska for the summer of 2012.
Up, Up and Away……
The true Southwest awaits you in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Rich with culture and history this picturesque old settlement along the Rio Grande is the perfect place for your next adventure! The Southwestern art Mecca is famous for its Native American jewelry and pottery as well as more traditional and contemporary art. If you’re more into culinary history, you won’t be disappointed. Every meal in Albuquerque presents the opportunity to experience the exotic and addictive flavors of America’s most unique regional cuisine.
Diverse cultures and vibrant traditions collide to bring you the rich history of the Native American, Spanish and Western heritage. Settled in 1706 by Spanish colonists and named after the Duke of Albuquerque in Spain, the surrounding area has been occupied for many centuries by several groups of Native Americans long before the Spanish settlers ever came. You’ll even find old apartment-like buildings that were constructed 3,000 years ago out of stone and adobe by the Anasazi Indians are still standing.
Albuquerque and its surrounding area is packed full of “must see” and “must dos”. There are enough peaks and canyons, galleries, museums and culture to explore for weeks on end! If you are planning a vacation to Albuquerque and you want to experience it all, be sure to include the annual Balloon Festival the first week in October. Lasting for about nine days, it has become the largest hot air balloon gathering and the most photographed event in the world. October’s crisp fall climate and somewhat predictable air current allows the balloonist to better control their flights. The Balloon Fiesta attracts some 700 balloons from more than 50 countries and over 750,000 visitors attend this spectacular event each year.
Walk among the balloons as they inflate on the launch field each morning. Visitors are welcomed to ask questions and meet the pilots or with a little pre-planning, assist with the balloon launch! Up, Up and Away……
The true Southwest awaits you in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rich with culture and history this picturesque old settlement along the Rio Grande is the perfect place for your next adventure! The Southwestern art Mecca is famous for its Native American jewelry and pottery as well as more traditional and contemporary art. If you’re more into culinary history, you won’t be disappointed. Every meal in Albuquerque presents the opportunity to experience the exotic and addictive flavors of America’s most unique regional cuisine. And for any first timers, Millennium owners Nick and Naomi Theisz gave us a few great tips. “We recommend that you stay the full nine days or at least the two weekends just in case there’s bad weather,” Nick explained. “And we encourage you to volunteer to work with the crews to help fill the balloons and also be a part of the chase crews,” Naomi added, “this brings the whole experience to life, instead of just sitting on the hill and watching! We also recommend camping at the VIP or President’s Compound area where you can view the ascensions without fighting the crowd. It’s more pricey, but well worth it!” Nick and Naomi also recommend making reservations well in advance; as early as January of the year you plan to attend. If a one-of-a-kind event is on your bucket list, you will not want to miss this! There aren’t any other hot air balloon festivals like it! A true Southwest experience awaits you in Albuquerque. Plunge into richly rooted culture, steeped in centuries of history. Soak in the blue skies and sun that shines 310 days a year. Breath in the high desert air infused with sage and pinon and you’ll appreciate why Albuquerque, New Mexico is a destination worthy of the bucket list. • Kat -also do a text box with the following: “To volunteer on a hot air balloon crew visit our website for link to registration”
** also as a note “For more information on the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta visit our website at www.millenniumluxurycoaches.com under Favorite Getaways”
Looking to get away from the cold and escape to a southern paradise?
Key West lets you enjoy all of the comforts of the Caribbean without having to leave your coach.
You can choose to get lost in relaxation or follow our guide to make the most of your time on the island.
Eat at Blue Heaven, which happens to be more of an experience than a setting to eat a quiet meal. Don’t be fooled by the roaming chickens, the food is so good that the restaurant has become its own well-known destination in Key West. Whether you’re trying their pancakes or Scallops Provencale, you’ll be surrounded by good vibes and the sounds of live entertainment. 729 Thomas St. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, home to one of America’s most honored and respected authors. Hemingway lived in the heart of old Key West for 10 years. Enjoy 30 minute guided tours through the gardens that are home to more than 40 polydactyl (six toed) cats. 907 Whitehead St.
Listen to classic Motown and funk music at Schooner Wharf Bar, voted “Best Local Bar” 6 years in a row. You don’t want to miss the quintessential musical storytelling during the day and nighttime favorites from the Key West Soul Party at night. Dancing is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged. 202 William St
Shop at FantaSea for an array of unique items from around the globe. Each item is created by nature or carefully crafted by hand, exhibiting the owner’s passion for seashells and shell collecting. Whether you are seeking a fond memory of your vacation or looking for the perfect home accessory, you’re sure to find it here. 620 Duval St. Events
January 12th, 2014 Car Show featuring Florida Keys Southernmost Car Club: This show is for lovers of classic cars, hotrods, motorcycles and anything on wheels. There will be music, a people’s choice trophy, a 50/50 raffle and more.
Adventure is a way of life for Nick and Naomi.
When it comes to traveling there are no boundaries and they’re definitely not afraid to leave the beaten path.
As a matter of fact, Naomi flew in from Nepal for this interview, after spending 2 weeks riding elephants and visiting rhinos!
Born in Tucson Arizona, Naomi moved to the east coast just out of college seeking a new adventure. There she met Nick, the man of her dreams, at a ski club!
Nick, a New Jersey native, was a young Optometrist just out of school but he had the heart of an adventurer. His first camping experience was with his Jeepster with a boat strapped to the top. He and a college friend looked up the most remote park in the Rand McNally guide and set out for Jordan, MT. It was so remote, even the locals hadn’t heard of it. It ended up being a hair raising adventure that concluded with both young men floating around a lake on a night so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.
Although Naomi started a little tamer as a young Girl Scout camping in tents, “I am the one to this day that is more willing to dive in and explore the unknown and unexpected…. Nick is a little more cautious” she said.
“Early in our marriage exploring the great outdoors consisted of traveling by car and living in a tent,” said Nick. “But after many days and nights of rain and mud with an infant son and 3 yr old daughter, I finally had to put my foot down!” Naomi added, “We need some wheels under us!” So after attending an RV show, Nick brought home a 21’ Winnebago. “Traveling in a home on wheels made all the difference, now instead of worrying about the baby in the mud, he now slept in a portable crib on the stove… turned off of course! And occasionally we had to rescue our daughter out of the crack in the cushions we put together for her to sleep on….but life was good!”
“After years of RV’ing it was clear to me that Prevost built a better chassis. So 6 years ago we bought our first Prevost. And then after owning many different Prevosts, I realized how important good service was. I wanted a converter who I knew I could rely and depend on!” Nick continued, “While shopping around we came across a Millennium coach. We fell in love with Vonna first and when we met the rest of the friendly Millennium team we were hooked! And not only was the product great, but they also had a great reputation for service… just what I was looking for!” Nick and Naomi have covered all 50 states in their motor home travels. And now they are looking forward to going to all the National Parks. Last year they were on the road for a total of 8 months (30,000 miles) and with no tow vehicle. When asked about their favorite destination, Nick said, “Wherever you go there is always something of interest. There is no place you can go in the rest of the world that you can’t find a geographical equivalent of in the US. You don’t have to leave the country to find what you’re looking for.”
There were a few times in their travels they had to be towed out of ditches and yes, they’ve had their fair share of near misses…but they have had lots of fun memories; like the time they pulled into a county fair and were hunting for a place to park. A guy in a golf cart pulled up and said, “Follow me, I’ll park you!” After he got them parked and settled in, he asked, “Where’s the band?” Nick said, “For a moment we felt like Rock Stars!” And there’s the time when a fellow camper told them they had to go see Yoho Park in British Columbia…..what an experience that was! They encountered hair pin turns and ended up turning the coach completely around in the middle of the road. With only one foot of clearance! Nick counted 15 turns. We have been fortunate to have Nick and Naomi as family and friends! They have taught us that the purpose of life is to live it and to enjoy the journey; you’ll eventually arrive at a destination.
Nick & Naomi’s Great Adventure *Warning, not for the faint of heart! This is one of Nick and Naomi’s most memorable trips. Located about 60 miles north of Peach Springs, AZ, Havasu Canyon is a paradise where turquoise water cascades into travertine pools. A side branch of the Grand Canyon; the Havasupai people have inhabited this lush canyon for over 800 years. They are the smallest Indian nation in America totaling about 600 people. There are no roads to Supai Village so you must arrive by horse or on foot, or if you’ve made arranges, a helicopter.
The trail head starts at Hualapai Hilltop which is a large parking lot attended by an old Indian that lives there in a rail car (folks we’re not making this up.) Nick warns that he plays a mean game of cards so be prepared! He’ll watch your vehicle and get you started on your way. For hikers the canyon is a bit of a challenge with over 2000 vertical foot of descent on narrow switchbacks with the sparse vegetation giving no hint of the lush canyon below. A small restaurant (Nick recommends the chili) and a motel with basic requirements will provide a restful overnight stay so that you can hike to 3 different waterfalls (the last one requires a climb down a rope ladder!) We warned you that this was not for the faint of heart, but if it inspires the adventurer in you visit www.havasupaitribe.com for more information.