An Alaska vacation is so much fun! I should know since I have taken a couple over the years. Most of my time in Alaska has been spent while cruising on small ships. My adventure this time had me spending more time on land. Taking land tours is exciting in Alaska. But I was so happy when I finally got to board a ship partway through my vacation in Alaska. Heading back in time to enjoy the ambiance on the Riverboat Discovery was exactly what I needed to make my adventures in Alaska better than ever before.
Riverboat Discovery made its first voyage with passengers back in 1950. However, that isn’t where the family’s steamboat history began. It was more than fifty years prior when Charles M. Binkley hiked over the Chilkoot Pass in search of a location to build and operate boats. This was back in 1898.
Today, the fifth generation of Binkleys run the sternwheel business. Their current ship holds 900 passengers. That is quite a few more people than the 25 that were on their first vessel, Godspeed.
I was more than happy to board the Riverboat Discovery for my three-hour tour. This cruise took me into the heart of Alaska. Along the way I was able to see how the locals have lived in the area for all these years.
Our first stop was the Chena Indian Village Living Museum. This museum is a replica of an Athabascan Indian Village. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around looking at the cabins made from spruce logs, as well as the primitive spruce bark hut.
My tour guide shared how different animals were used for food and protection. While almost any animal could be hunted, the locals focused mostly on fox, wolves, and beavers.
During my cruise, I was also able to watch a bush pilot demonstration right next to from the boat. After the demonstration, the pilot shared stories about how vital these planes are to those people living remotely in Alaska.
My favorite thing to do during the cruise though was visiting, and playing with, the dogs at the Trail Breaker Kennel. This kennel was where four-time Iditarod champion, Susan Butcher lived. Her home, and kennel, are right next to the Chena River.
Susan’s husband and daughter continue her legacy by sharing what it takes to create a champion dogsled team. They share stories of spending time out on the trails and what happens during the races. I saw plenty of puppies waiting to grow up to see if they could join the team one day.
Truly I have loved every minute of my time cruising down the Chena River on the Riverboat Discovery. I almost wished it could have lasted for a few more hours. But then again, I was excited to continue with my Alaska vacation. There were still a couple more days of fun waiting for me, and I couldn’t wait to see what else I could experience.
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