Zack and the Validators: Good As Gold
This book, Zack and the Validators: Spirit Bridge, is the fourth in a series about Zack, an intelligent and handsome donkey, and his three donkey friends. They call themselves the Validators'. Leaving San Francisco on a passenger ship, they travel to Skagway, Alaska, and then to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada, to rescue Zack's Uncle Harry. As they travel up the Pacific Coast along the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington states, and the Inside Passage to Alaska, they see many new sights from the decks of their ship. The naturalist expert aboard the ship also provides comments over the ship's sound system, periodically, as the ship arrives at certain sightseeing points. In addition, Zack reads books about each state to learn about it landscape, natural resources, industries, and history. He records much of this information in his journal as they reach particular places, cities, or towns.
When Zack and his donkey friends arrive at Skagway, Alaska, they're met at the dock by Miss Darlene Divine, Harry's best friend. She's a moose who's the entertainment manager of Skagway's Pack Horse Inn. She provides rooms for Zack and friends for the night, shows them around Skagway the next day, and helps them board a train to travel to Canada. They see a lot of beautiful sights along the White Pass Trail, one of the two trails used by the Klondike gold rushers to cross the coastal mountains into Canada. They also learn about Dead Horse Gulch where 3,000 horses died during the winter of 1897 because of hazardous trail conditions. The horses were also overloaded with supplies, and many were cruelly treated by their owners. Zack learns about how the gold rushers traveled over the Summit with over 1,150 pounds of supplies during cold, winter conditions. He also learned about how they built boats at Lake Bennett so they could float down the Yukon River to Dawson City.
Uncle Harry's eyes were injured in a gold mine explosion near Dawson City and he needs special medical help so his eyes can heal. When Zack and his friends arrive at Dawson City on a paddle-wheeler boat, they soon find Uncle Harry in a Dawson City hospital. They stay in a Catholic church's rectory with Fr. John Mark and Fr. Christopher Clancy, while Harry recovers enough to travel to Skagway for special medical treatment. While there, Willie and Pedro, two of Zack's donkey friends, travel with Professor Carmacky to Bonanza Creek to pan for gold, while the Professor learns more about the first big Klondike gold discovery. Zack stays in Dawson City with Zelda, another donkey friend, to help Harry regain his strength for travel to Skagway.
Finally, Harry is able to travel. They return up the Yukon River through treacherous white water rapids to the town of Whitehorse. From there, they take a train to Skagway. While traveling to Skagway on the historic White Pass & Yukon Railroad train, Harry sees a foggy image of an old railroad bridge near the White Pass Summit of the coastal mountain range. He learned later, from the local Tlingit Indian chief, that he saw an abandoned steel cantilever bridge that crosses Dead Horse Gulch, a historic gulch where the 3,000 horses died during the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush. The chief explained to Harry his tribe's great need to have a bridge across the gulch for migrating caribou to cross. He also told Harry about his tribe's belief that the spirits of the dead horses need a bridge in order to cross the gulch to the Great Spirit Land (an animal heaven). With these great needs for a bridge, Harry discovers that his good talent is to become a bridge for others'. He decides to stay in Alaska to help the chief renovate the bridge to make it usable for caribou to cross the gulch. The chief also believes the spirits of the dead horses will use it to cross the gulch, on their way to the Great Spirit Land. That's why the name Spirit Bridge' was given to the renovated bridge.
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Alaska asked beautiful boat breakfast bridge Broadway Street Cantilever Bridge Captain MacHall Chief Lashoto Christopher crevasses Dawson City Dead Horse Gulch deck delicious dining room dinner donkey door enjoy ﬁlled ﬁnd ﬁne ﬁnished ﬁre ﬁrst Fr.John friends George Carmack Glacier Bay gold rushers greeted happy Harry’s Hello high—speed railroad hope hospital Klondike Gold Rush Lake Bennett looked lunch Miss Darlin morning mountain Muir Muir’s myjournal night Pack Horse paddle—wheeler passengers prayer Professor Carmacky quickly ready replied rest return to Skagway right eye right—of—way Saloon ship ship’s sights Sister Skagway River sleep sounds Spirit stampeders Sudsy’s talents talk tell Thank There’s Tlingit Indian tomorrow tonight town trading post train travel to Skagway tribal land Uncle Harry Validators walked warriors we’ll White Elk White Pass Trail Whitehorse Willie and Pedro Yosemite National Park Yukon River Yukon Territory Zack Zack’s Zelda