Two RV Gypsies: Full-Time RVers

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The two RV Gypsies in Alaska
The two RV Gypsies adventures in Canada
Countries Karen and Lee Duquette visited cruises Karen and Lee Duquette have taken The two RV Gypsies travel in the USA
learn about Brian Lee Duquette's life and tragedy Flashback memories of the two RV Gypsies Links to other RV information useful hints for RV trips travel videos
The two RV Gypsies and family
went on a Riverboat Discovery Cruise
1975 Discovery Drive
Fairbanks, Alaska
phone: -'907.479.6673
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.
Steamboat Landing building
Steamboat Landing Fairbanks sign
Discovery Cruise boat
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.

float plane showing off
float plane showing off
float plane showing off
float plane showing off
Below: Big houses along the river and other scenery
a big log cabin
Alaskan log owner
the river and bank
a big house
another big bouse
float plane and house and boat
big house and yard
big house and yard
Below: An old houseboat and old paddle-wheel boat - abandoned long ago
an old houseboat
an old paddle wheel boat
The 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!

Dave Monson and the sled dogs
sled dogs
sled dogs
sled dogs ready to go
After the dogs pulled the sled around the lake, they jumped into the 48 degree water to play and cool down.
sled dogs jumping into the river
sled dogs in the river
The original cottage Susan lived in is still on the property
Susan's original cottage

Scenery and some reindeer along the way.

Chena River

The Chena and Tanana River meet - see the difference in color.

The Chena and Tanana River meet
The Chena and Tanana River meet
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.
Chena Village map
the Discovery Riverboat at Chena Village

Below: Despite the warm weather, a native modeled an Athabaskan Yukon-style women's winter parka with sunshine ruff.

Athabaskan Yukon-style women's winter parka
Athabaskan Yukon-style women's winter parka
post office sign Chena Village Post office

Below: Granite statue: Susan's Lead Sled Dog and a display of Susan and Granite.

statue of Granite - the sled dog dispaly inside about Susan's cabin

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.

book signing book signing

Monument for a pioneer riverboat captain -
Captain Jim Binkley

Below: one of many huts at Chena Village

monument hut

Below: A stuffed moose

Below: Lee Duquette examined the smoking salmon. (2009 photos)
salmon smoking
Lee Duquette by the salmon smokehouse
Lee Duquette by the salmon smokehouse
A cache of stored furs & supplies
an old plane
A cache of stored furs & supplies
an old plane
The Iron Dog
sign about The Iron Dog
The Iron Dog
The fish are caught in a fishwheel, which scoops the fish from the river as it is turned by the current.
As the boat left the village, a native guide demonstrated how fish are cut and prepared for human and dog consumption.
leaving the village
a last demonstration
salmon drying
look below

please continue on to the next adventure of the two RV GypsiesContinue on to the kayak trip in Fairbanks, Alaska


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go back to the SD menu If you have seen all eight sections in Fairbanks, return to the Alaska 2016 menu to continue the Alaska adventures in the order of your choice. There will also be a link at the bottom of the Alaska menu for continued navigation back into Canada and the USA.