Many people dream of visiting Alaska. Pam and Mason Rivers have been lucky enough to live the dream three times, once as tourists and twice as campground hosts for the BLM.
Pam and Mason Rivers first visited Alaska in 1997. They returned to Alaska in 2008 as campground hosts for the Tangle Lakes Campground on the Denali Highway, near Paxson and again in 2010 as campground hosts for Brushkana Creek Campground on the Denali Highway, near Cantwell. Over the years the Rivers have traveled throughout the U.S. doing similar work in places as diverse as Idaho, the Mojave Desert, and Massachusetts, where they are spending this summer. However, Alaska always seems to call them back.
“There’s a sense of anticipation. It’s magical,” says Pam Rivers, “We love Alaska.”
Always looking for adventure, the Rivers drove from their home in Oregon through British Columbia on the gravel Stewart-Cassiar Highway and turned onto the Alaska Highway to finish the scenic drive through the Yukon Territory and into Alaska.Their journey began in mid-April giving them enough time to take a detour to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula where they volunteered for Homer’s Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. After a little car trouble, they arrived at the BLM Glennallen Field Office to begin their summer as campground hosts.
“Brushkana was different in that you’re really in the wilderness,” Pam recounts of life at Brushkana Creek Campground which is approximately 33 miles from the nearest town, “It’s remote so you always need to be prepared.”
Even though they were somewhat isolated, the Rivers enjoyed the opportunity to view all the wildlife around Brushkana Creek, from sightings of grizzly bears to watching mother moose with their calves forage outside the window of their RV.
|Geocaching in the wilds of Alaska. Photo by Pam Rivers. ||The Rivers enjoyed the opportunity to get up close and personal with the wildlife at Brushkana. Photo by Pam Rivers. |
What Pam and Mason most enjoyed about their time as campground hosts was watching all the different ways people were recreating on public lands, from fishing and hiking to geocaching. “Brushkana Creek Campground is just like a hotel in New York— international,” explains Pam. Over the course of the summer, the Rivers met people from countries such as France and a man from Israel who was traveling around the world and stopped at Brushkana Creek Campground because his Alaska tour book recommended it.
For Pam and Mason, a visit to Alaska would not be complete without a new experience. After finishing their host detail in 2008, they flew all the way to Nome. In August of 2010, the Rivers drove north along the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle. “We heard a lot of horror stories, you know. Take spare headlights, take spare this and that, because your car is going to break down and you’ll need to fix it. But it actually wasn’t that bad,” says Pam with a laugh, “Some places are good, but there are some places where you can only drive 30 mile per hour.” Despite good stretches, Pam doesn’t deny that the trip was exciting as they traveled the “Kamikaze Trail” until they reached the Arctic Circle. When asked about the experience of being so far north, Pam said that even though she and her husband had been up to the Arctic Circle in 1997, returning to such a place still filled her with awe.
An eagle perched along side the Bruskana River. Photo by Pam Rivers.
Living in Alaska as a campground host for BLM can be exciting. But as Pam and Mason Rivers show, a summer in Alaska is what you make it. “The people in Alaska are lucky, there’s always something new,” says Pam. “It’s interesting to see how things changed since we last visited. It’s all so amazing. We’d love to come back.”
— Sheila Sine