The Two RV Gypsies: Full-Time RVers
went on a Riverboat Discovery Cruise
in Fairbanks, Alaska
July 12, 2009
The two RV Gypsies went on a 3-1/2 hour cruise aboard the authentic sternwheelers Discovery II and III, 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.
sign - welcome to the Riverboat Discovery
steamboat landing store & gift shop
sign - Steamboat Landing - Fairbanks, Alaska
sternwheeler Discovery III
Karen Duquette & sternwheeler Discovery III
Lee & Karen Duquette
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.

bush pilot taking off
bush pilot taking off
bush pilot taking off
bush pilot taking off
bush pilot taking off
bush plane in the air
bush plane in the air
bush plane in the air
Below: kayakers and swimmers
kayakers
swimmers
boaters
canoes
the river
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
Below; 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!

team of dogs
Dave Monson speaks
Dave and the dogs
dogs almost ready to go
Below: The dogs were eager to run, but first they got a cooling down from the hose.
dogs are all set to go
cooling the dogs
Below: After the dogs pulled the sled around the lake, they jumped into the 48 degree water to play and cool down.
dogs in river
dogs in river
dogs in river
dogs in river
Below; The original cottage Susan lived in is still on the property
Susan's original cottage
Below: The two RV Gypsies were ready to go ashore at the authentic Athabaskan Village to experience 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.
the boat
the paddle wheel

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

parka
back of parka
Below: Lee Duquette examined the smoking salmon.
salmon smoking
Lee Duquette by the salmon smokehouse
Lee Duquette by the salmon smokehouse
Below: A cache of stored furs and supplies
Below: An old plane
A cache of stored furs & supplies
an old plane
Below: The Iron Dog
sign about The Iron Dog
The Iron Dog
Below: The fish are caught in a fishwheel, which scoops the fish from the river as it is turned by the current.
fishwheel
fishwheel
Below: 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
fishwheel

Note: The two RV Gypsies treated their daughter and 2 grandchildren to a 10-day vacation in Alaska. After they arrived at the Fairbanks Airport, the two RV Gypsies took them on this same Riverboat cruise plus the gold mine and other places that they should experience and enjoy. Those photos are also posted on this site in the order that they occurred.

The two RV Gypsies also brought other family members here in 2016. Some photos may be repeated, but most are different.

Menu for the two RV Gypsies Adventures
in Fairbanks, Alaska
July 9 - 15, 2009

You may visit these five (5) sites in any order you choose.

bullet marker Fairbanks, Alaska

bullet marker El Dorado Gold Mine

Riverboat Discovery Cruise -
Chena Indian Village and an Athabaskan Fish Camp (this page)

bullet marker Pioneer Park; a sternwheeler paddleship and more

bullet marker World Eskimo-Indian Olympics - amazing

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go to the next adventure of the two RV Gypsies AFTER you have visited all five (5) sections, above, please continue on to the adventures of the two RV Gypsies at Chena Hot Springs - the ice museum/hotel and more.

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