The two RV Gypsies and family
went on a Riverboat Discovery Cruise
1975 Discovery Drive
July 9, 2016
(NOTE: Different sized photos are from different visits in other years)
|The two RV Gypsies took their family members on a 3-hour cruise aboard the authentic sternwheeler Discovery II, a fully-narrated cruise along the Chena and Tanana Rivers, with a bush pilot's demonstration, and a fish wheel in operation. Alaskan Native guides took everyone ashore at an authentic Athabaskan village where they experienced traditional native lifestyles, enjoyed the work of an Athabaskan bead work artist, and met Susan Butcher's famous Iditarod sled dog team and her husband. This was the third time that the two RV Gypsies have been on this cruise.
The cruise started with an Alaskan bush pilot's display: a short field take-off and landing along the banks of the Chena River. Bush pilots and planes played a vital role in the pioneering of Alaska, succeeding the riverboats in Alaskan transportation history. Because of Alaska's vast remote areas, service by airplane was (and remains) essential to the timely delivery of supplies. When bush planes first entered the country, sternwheelers ruled the transportation business. It didn't take long for the bush plane to prove its utility and send the riverboats into retirement.
Today, Alaska has the highest per capita ownership of private aircraft. Due to the limited access to rivers in much of the state and the seasonal nature of river boating, bush pilots can be seen practicing their skills in virtually all parts of Alaska year round.
A bush float plane landed on the river, cruised by the boat, and took off into the sky.
Below: Big houses along the river and other scenery
Below: An old houseboat and old paddle-wheel boat - abandoned long ago
cruise paused on the river by the home and kennels of the late four-time
Iditarod champion Susan Butcher. Susan's husband Dave Monson, a
champion of the Yukon Quest, and a senior handler shared stories of life
in the dog yard and on the trails, as the puppies played in anticipation
of joining the team. Dave also told about kennel life and the challenges
that go into making a champion dogsled team.
Susan and her husband, Dave Monson, ran in and won almost every major dog sled race worldwide. Additionally, Susan accomplished many challenges never before attempted, including taking a team of dogs to the summit of Mount McKinley!
|After the dogs pulled the sled around the lake, they jumped into the 48 degree water to play and cool down.
The original cottage Susan lived in is still on the property
Scenery and some reindeer along the way.
The Chena and Tanana River meet - see the difference in color.
|The two RV Gypsies and family went ashore at the authentic Athabaskan Village and experienced traditional native lifestyles. The fish camp is the summer home for Interior Athabaskan Indians who practice a subsistence lifestyle. Fish camp is also where family elders work side by side with younger generations, passing down their history and culture. It is at the fish camp that they catch fish to feed their dogs and themselves throughout the winter.
Below: Despite the warm weather, a native modeled an Athabaskan Yukon-style women's winter parka with sunshine ruff.
Below: Granite statue: Susan's Lead Sled Dog and a display of Susan and Granite.
Karen Duquette 's sister, Ilse Blahak, is a teacher in California. She bought the book about Susan Butcher and the Iditarod. So Susan's husband signed the book.
Monument for a pioneer riverboat captain
Below: one of many huts at Chena Village
Below: A stuffed moose
Below: Lee Duquette examined the smoking salmon. (2009 photos)
A cache of stored furs & supplies
an old plane
The Iron Dog
|The fish are caught in a fishwheel, which scoops the fish from the river as it is turned by the current.
boat left the village, a native guide demonstrated how fish are cut and
prepared for human and dog consumption.