OH! CANADA!! …. and ON THE HIGHWAYS TO ALASKA

2 MAY 2011

 
Cold start to the day–40 degrees in the van; still feeling crappy with throat quite sore. I’m beginning to wonder if it might be strep. That’d suck.

Fixed a hot breakfast in my wonderful campsite at Great Falls Super Wal-Mart (heh heh) and it is a beautiful day! Not a cloud in the sky. Rockies are the backdrop on my left driving north to Shelby.

An even better way to start the day is to find out Osama bin Laden is dead. Special Forces went in and took out his wife and put a bullet in his head. Of course, the Mongrel-in-Chief goes on TV and in a short announcement used “I” “me” or “my” about a dozen times. Piece of crap thinks it is all about him. I can’t wait to hear the polls in a few days where his Kept-Whores in the media will be licking his feet pronouncing what a great president he is as his numbers bounced. Of course, those same Kept-Whores, three days afterwards, when his numbers go down again, will not even mention it.

When I pulled in to Browning, MT I was appalled. It’s a Blackfeet Indian Tribe town and is a piece of crap. Trash blowing in the wind everywhere. House yards filled with junked cars. Everything in disrepair.

Houses falling apart. This place is a shithole. A SHITHOLE!

Typically stereotypical Rezzie town. Amazing what alcohol and government dependency can do to you.

What a shame as the backdrop is stunningly beautiful!!! Given its location I would think the place could be a veritable gold mine of a tourist attraction but based on what I saw the LAST thing I wanted to do there was stop for anything short of gas.

Got into Canada at 1:30. Just over the border and the difference is amazing. Cardston, a few miles from the border is stunningly clean, the houses immaculate and people walking the sides of the road picking up trash. You’d think the Bureau of Indian Affairs would take the Indians on a road trip so they could see how much nicer they could live if they only had some pride. OH! That’s right! Almost forgot that if they did that they’d be out of business with no one depending on them to keep themselves downtrodden.

Gasoline here is $1.23…..a liter! Making it about $5.05 a gallon!!!!! And in Cutbank, Browning and Shelby MT it was $3.62.

Being in Canada is “almost” like being in the US what with McD’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, etc. Seems a little too nanny-state for me. Can’t ID it just yet but can’t shake it off, either.

Exchanged money in Lethbridge. Very nice little town. Was actually quite warm today. Got up to 19C (about 70 F)

Did some grocery shopping and got charged taxes on it. Things are not cheap here so I don’t quite know how people manage.
 

3 MAY 2011

 
Lots of snow on the ground. Hell, the shopping centers still have piles of snow!!!!

Lakes are still frozen over. I imagine people living here endure freezing weather at least 6 months out of the year. Sure makes yard work a breeze!!!

Makes you wonder at the amount of walking the Indians did long ago as they went south for the winter and north for the summer, following game animals. I need to do more research and reading into that.

Made it to Banff (OMIGOD!!! THIS PLACE IS SPECTACULAR!!!!!) Not sure we have anything quite like it in the states. Yeah, sure, the majesty of the Rockies, Yellowstone, Glacier, but it’s the way it’s set up here.

Anyway, everyone I talk to mentions how Al Gore’s Global Warming is thumbing its nose at him. Spring is a good 3 weeks behind. Unprecedented snow, avalanches, cold etc. Hell, I was heating up lunch in the campground and it was snowing!

Here’s an odd observation: have seen only ONE POLICE CAR in all the miles I’ve traveled and I’ve gone through 2 good sized cities AND Calgary. The one I DID see had a gumball machine red light on the roof!! I thought of Andy Griffith!

As is my wont, while at the Visitor Information Center I got into a discussion about politics with the woman helping me out. I mentioned it because yesterday was election day in Canada and Steven Harper, the conservative, who the pundits all but wrote off, swept to a huge victory grabbing majorities in Parliament.

Listened to the CBC (the equivalent of the BBC and our Kept-Whores in the leftist media) and they were beside themselves with grief. And to think Canadian taxpayers pay for these morons to spout their nonsense. Anyway, they cried in their beers about how the pundits got it all wrong and failed to call the right shots.

Anyway, back to the lady: she thinks the divide between the rich and the poor is too big with the middle class getting squeezed out. I tried explaining to her that when you have a government giving bennies to people they take the path of least resistance and would rather live in shabbier conditions knowing someone takes care of them than to make it on their own. She lamented the state of the poor and how they never get a leg up on life. I tried explaining to her that life is full of decision points and we need to take responsibility for our decisions starting with when we are in school and fail to study. She wanted them helped; I told her their failures were Darwin at work. She railed at the rich and I told her THEY were the ones paying the lion’s share of taxes already with many paying no taxes.

We went back and forth for quite a while.

Afterwards, I was reading some literature and saw where Banff was named for one of the major Scottish investors of the railroads here!!! Back then THESE GUYS were the capitalists she so railed against and if it weren’t them she would not have a job today. I am tempted to return there tomorrow and tweak her about it.

Decided to spend two days at the campground only 2.5 KM from town center. It’s called Tunnel Mtn Village. Costs $28 CAD per night, no electric but has showers. In season also has kitchen buildings to cook and clean up. Some sites have fire pits, wood costs extra.

Looking for a gas station I was just driving around and ended up in some “boonie areas.”

Pretty slick how they’ve done things here. Where the tourists go it’s all shops and what not. However, this boonie area is where trucks and equipment are stored and where buses are parked and maintenance gets done. No garages in town to speak of but there are two gas stations that, it you aren’t paying attention, you’d miss. Sorta like being in Aspen (and probably just as pricey here, too.) Residential areas, business areas, and industrial areas: all perfectly delineated.

Anyhoo………I scouted around town for the “tourist sites” and made it up to where the gondolas take you to Sulphur Mountain. A few buses disgorged their almost exclusively oriental passengers. Then I went to Bow Falls where more oriental passengers showed up. Then it dawned on me: I was here at probably THE BEST time because in about three weeks this place will have all the campgrounds and other facilities open, those buses I saw in the maintenance yard will be running the streets and even more tourist buses will be arriving making this place a madhouse.

Right now the weather, albeit a bit cool, is nice. The traffic is minimal. The snow is melting. The effects of the snow and running waters, rivers, mountains, etc. are spectacular. Perfect for pictures.

Business owners will love it but tourists will have to run the gamut of traffic and stupid pedestrians taking pictures and not paying attention to where they’re going.

It’s gonna be a bitch of a cold night tonight. Throughout the day it snowed flurries here and there as some stray cloud flew overhead. The wind is blowing to beat the band and the forecast is for about 22 degrees. I will be in sweat pants, hat, sweat shirt, long sleeved undershirt, my 30 degree rated bad with a blanket on top. BRRRRRR!!!!!!
 

4 MAY 2011

 
So far I am realizing that trusting weather forecasts isn’t really worth the effort. last night was supposed to be damned cold. Barely hit 32. 40 degrees in the van. Downright balmy!!

Wearing a hat to bed made a big difference, too. I felt warmer.

Bailed out of the campground by 6:30 and was in a coffee shop before 7AM sucking up their wi-fi.

Visited the Norquay ski area for the views but it was closed due to avalanche dangers.

Taking lots of photos now and it will be interesting to compare them to the ones I will take when I return here in about 2 weeks. The snow is melting quickly and people are industriously sweeping all the gravel and sand out of their grass areas (near the streets on the curbs where the snowplows laid it down over the winter.) Literally inches of the stuff and they use these weird motorized beaters to pound them out of the grass.

Lake Louise is beautiful but lots of cabins, hotels, restaurants, etc. are closed due to piled up snow. The lake is frozen and I took a walk on it as did lots of tourists. The hotels that are open are doing a booming business and there’s not a room here under $100+ per night. Many are resort hotels so they’re probably north of $200 a night.

Went back to take photos at Bow Falls to see what difference a polarizing filter would make. Saw a couple of moose and got close enough to take nice pictures. A bunch of moose in the campground last night, too. As well as a deer right smack dab in town, nibbling away at the grass.

Took a trip on the Sulphur Mountain gondola. The bottom is at about 5100 feet and it climbs to almost 8000 feet on a 51% incline.

Could not help myself and checked weather. Satellite shows a storm front that promises to totally obscure the skies for the next 10 days. I will hit Alaska without seeing the sun. As I write the clouds are moving in so maybe this time they will get it right…..but I hope they are wrong as tons of beautiful scenery is coming up.

Will head to Jasper and then points west towards Prince George, BC.

Been averaging about 70 pix a day. Today I hit 200.

For future reference, verified that using a credit or debit card is cheaper than exchanging money at a bank. By almost 2%. May not sound like much but on $2000 that’s $40. And $40 buys a lot of beer!!
 

5 MAY 2011

 
Off to a roaring start at 6AM. Coffee, wi-fi and on the road by 7:30. Had to upload files to my server. Still 2 days behind the power curve.

Looked like it was going to clear up in Banff but northbound the weatherman got it right. Dramatic scenery, though. Got a picture of the Crowfoot Glacier and passed several others but they were covered in snow still. For some reason the robins are all over here. I think God played a trick on the poor bastards as it is so cold and snow covered.

Really looking forward to coming back through here to see the differences a couple of weeks make.

Also saw several hostels and one looked very inviting: rustic, on a river. No amenities to speak of but the location was outstanding. Got the number to make reservations.

Took out my first critter. Looked like a large chipmunk. Saw it twitching in the rearview (on the highway so no way to make evasive moves.) Fortunately the guy behind me saw what was going on and put it out of its misery.

The road from Banff to Jasper is 230 kilometers and rivals ANY road I’ve ever been on for sheer AUDACIOUS BEAUTY! It was built in 1931 as a “make work” project with workers getting 20 cents a day. Took 9 years and was almost all by hand with the only mechanization was a few tractors.

I can just imagine what thoughts went through the minds of the first men who saw this area.

Got some snow flurries to make the day interesting.

Gas stations are few and far between here with one sixty miles apart and another set over 100 miles. In the summer they are a but closer but much is closed right now. I go for miles and miles and miles and miles and am the only one on the road. No cell coverage. Few phones anywhere. No radio stations AM or FM.

Finally got smart and decided to pull off the side of the road, dig into the snow and fill the ice chest with it. Saves having to make a stop for ice. Of course, it’ll probably be the last time I’ll be able to as soon I will be descending to about 2000 feet elevation.

Stopped for lunch at the entrance to Mt Robson Park at a little rest area just as you enter British Columbia. Beautiful backdrop. Finally got my appetite back.

Went over Yellowhead Pass (the name of the Highway headed towards Prince George) and it was named after an Iroquois trapper with light colored hair which resulted in his being named “Tete Jaune” by French voyageurs.

Need to spend a few hours in Jasper on the return. Didn’t want to today as I am following a forecast that promises sun at Dawson Creek and points west towards Watson Lake.

Driving by with Moose Lake on the left and train tracks below the roadway also on the left and saw what I thought was a very large black bag on the tracks.

Turned around, got out, started walking down and realized that a couple of hundred yards away was a damned black bear laying there where it was apparently warmer than the surrounding areas. Clever bear!!

Thank goodness for my VERY long lens on the camera as I got a pretty decent picture of it.

A couple of miles up the road saw another in the meadows alongside the road and got an even better picture. Got quite a bit closer but kept myself within easy reach of my OPEN driver’s door in case the bastard took off after me.

Blew past McBride (had considered camping there) and it has a population of about 750. The surrounding area is chock-a-block full of farms. I always wonder what motivates people to be so far away from everything. Prince George (pop. 80,000) is over 125 miles away. I can just imagine what it’s like to have a medical emergency way out here.

Very pretty, though, and the snow cover is almost non-existent with regular trees about to bloom.

Spent the night just outside Prince George at a rest area that dove down to a rustic spot by a river. Had it all to myself!
 

6 MAY 2011

 

Gas prices $1.24 at Lethbridge; $1.23 Banff; $1.28 Jasper; $1.35 Prince George

Was up before 5; light out already! Fixed some oatmeal and went to a Starbucks for wi-fi. Got their coffee (which sucks, by the way) and found out their servers were not working. Pissed me off.

Wandered around a bit trying to get my bearings and found another Starbucks (they’re like a plague here in Canada! Everywhere!) Mooched off their wi-fi without going in. Did it from the parking lot. Saw a woman go in and come out with 2 bottled waters. And what was RIGHT… NEXT… DOOR? A grocery store where she could have got that same water for over 50% cheaper. I guess having a little Starbucks cup is some sort of status symbol to these morons.

Got gas and headed out of town.

Stunningly beautiful day. Sun is out as of 9AM and should be good all day.

Visited Bijoux Falls. Area closed but I drove over the snow blocking the entrance and took some photos. Supposedly a great place to see stellar jays. I saw none. The falls were still full of snow and ice.

Stopped in at Chetwynd which is renowned for its chainsaw carving contests in June. Saw some amazing carvings. It’s also known as “the most livable small community in British Columbia.”

Amazing how many things in the Milepost Guides have changed in just 1 year. I saw places that were shuttered and for sale. Others had no signs. The campground I am in (located just outside Dawson Creek called Northern Lights RV Park) supposedly had free showers and older bathrooms. Not any more. They put in a large modular with fancy shower/bath enclosures (individualized) and each cubicle had its own lighting and heat. Washers were $3 and dryers $2. The hot showers? Not free. Cost $1 for three minutes. Plus $25 to spend the night with no hookups and a wi-fi that was slower than a 56.6K modem.
 

7 MAY 2011

 

The Alaska Highway begins at Mile 0 in Dawson Creek. First 600 or so miles are in British Columbia and then threads its way in and out of the Yukon Territory 6 or 7 times before staying in the YT a couple of hundred miles further in.

The original highway was built in 1942 in 8 months. Over 1200 miles carved out of the wilds of this area. Thousands of military men participated and they worked under grueling conditions. But they got it done.

In 1942, a Captain in the Army got a telegram in February telling him to take a company of men and to proceed to Dawson Creek and head in a north westerly direction towards Fairbanks to make a military road in preparation for the war.

In a month he put together 10,000 troops, equipment, supplies, office furniture, food, tents, etc. and staged it all at Dawson Creek!

They worked so fast that the survey teams had no time to second guess the route as the bulldozers were hot on their heels. In teams of three the surveyors would set a mark, one would walk forward, the other record the info and so on they’d piggy-back their way 5-10 miles a day.

The surveyors had to rely on information from trappers and others including bush pilots to try and pick the best route.

Back when I first drove it in 1973 it was almost all dirt for 1200 miles. Dust everywhere, washboard roads, washouts, etc. Now it’s all paved and a breeze (albeit noisy from the material used.)

Was up at 6 and hit the road. 32 degrees. They still have Movie Galleries here. All but shut down in the US. They also roll the carpets up early here and don’t unroll them until late. The local grocery stores weren’t open until 8 AM. They even have a Wal-Mart here and IT isn’t open until 8.

Average temp here in January is zero. They get about 6 feet of snow with about 2 feet staying on the ground. Only about 100 frost free days. In July it’s sixty. YIKES!! I’d hate to pay the heating bills.

Took a side road to the “old” Alaska highway and went over the Kiskatinaw Bridge. At 531 feet it is the only remaining timber bridge built back in 1942 still in use today.

Absolutely beautiful day. Sunny early and stayed mostly that way all day. God must be happy with me.

Spoke with the counter lady at a gas station and she repeated what I’ve been hearing since I left Iowa: cold, snow, worst winter in ages. Late spring, etc.

Big news in the local paper was “GUN SCARE AT SCHOOL!!!” Here. Dawson Creek. British Columbia. Canada, no less, where guns are basically prohibited.

Turns out this punk-assed kid brought in a cap pistol. Meanwhile, everyone’s shitting themselves with fear. Pathetic.

Back in 1973 the road was paved for a few miles out of town and then turned to dirt unless you got to Fort St John or Whitehorse.

Just north of Fort Nelson the road summits the Rockies at about 3400 feet. Not too high, sure, but very cold due to latitude. Like being at 8000 feet in Colorado. It snows here in July!

This area is BOOMING with oil and gas exploration. Work crews everywhere. Work sites everywhere. Work camps everywhere.

A local said that residents wait for jobs, work the summer and collect unemployment for about 6 months!!!

Lots of signs for people to avoid areas due to H2S gasses.

Gas in Fort Nelson is $1.43.

So far have seen hawks, deer, moose, crows (big-assed crows, too! Ravens?), a dead wolf, creatures from the squirrel family, robins, caribou, stone sheep.

Road got a lot rougher past Fort Nelson. Makes up for it with great views of Rockies to the left. It rained a bit ten cleared. Fantastic storm clouds.

Went by Folded Mountain which, “back in the day” used to be that all the rock in this area lay flat until about 175 MYA and North America began to move westwards overriding the Pacific floor and crashing into some offshore islands.

The continental shelf was caught in a squeeze play and the flat lying layers buckled into folds. 120MYA the Rockies showed above sea level eventually rising for 75 MY getting as high as the Himalayas. The last 45 MY have seen it erode to the levels we see today.

Gas price update: at Muncho Lake it was $1.80 a liter!! That’s like $7.20 a gallon. HO-LEEE CRAP!!!!

At a turn-out, I spoke with truck driver who does the Edmonton/Whitehorse run every 5 days. Quite the haul. Turns out to be great for him as his wife works oil fields north of Fort MacMurray (Alberta tar sands.) She’s on for three weeks and off one. So is he. He loves the drive and admits oil/gas exploration makes for lots of work.

Stopped at Liard Hot Springs and spoke with the ranger. He’s been working here 10 years, 7 days a week, 6AM to 10PM and loves it. It’s the middle of nowhere with the closest town, Watson Lake, 140 miles away.

He goes to Ft Nelson, 190 miles away as that’s where his wife’s from, to do shopping, etc. He also advised getting gas at Contact Creek as it’s only about 1.34 versus the 1.79 I saw earlier.

The campground was only 10 bucks and the place was packed!!! About 80 spaces mostly full. In the middle of nowhere. People are on three day holiday. It doesn’t get dark until 10PM so many are going to the hot springs. It gets light about 4:30 AM so I plan on going early in the morning.
 

8 MAY 2011

 
Up at 6 AM to something like 30 degrees, fixed some oatmeal and with a full belly went to the spring. Had it to myself for a while and then 2 gals showed up. It was HOT!!!!! (the springs!! OK, one of the girls, too!) About 112-128 degrees depending on where you stood.

Talked to one of the young ladies who also showed up early. She had just, graduated college at Prince Edwards Island off the coast of Maine. She’s from Whitehorse and was returning home trying to get job as teacher. For the entire trip she slept in the back of her 2002 Impala!!!

Also saw her pulling away from Rancheria Campground/gas station/motel/restaurant as I was pulling in for the night.

Got pix of plant life around springs and even saw some small blue flowers blooming. I can only imagine how packed it is here in the summer.

Saw the park manager at 7 picking up trash, whistling to himself, have a great time.

Another beautiful day. Clear. Sunny.

On the way towards my next destination, Rancheria Campground, I saw buttloads of bison. Some were in the woods rubbing against trees scratching themselves. Others were on the road edges eating and pooping. A couple of babies, too.

Crossed over the Liard River bridge, the only remaining suspension bridge on the AlCan and 1143 feet long. Nice piece of engineering.

Stopped at Alan’s Lookout which has a great view of the Liard River. Legend has it outlaws used to use the area to locate and then attack and rob riverboats.

Turns out that gas at Contact Creek really was cheaper than at Watson Lake.

At the Visitor Center I found out that ferries still not running regularly at Skagway so I will be going to Whitehorse after all.

While in Watson Lake I took a look at the “Signpost Forest.” I put up my own license plate from Sheila, my old mustang convertible. It was a vanity plate with “TOP LISS” on it.

The visitor center is very nice and has great pics and dioramas about the Highway construction. Took pictures of these kids and it turns out their mother worked in the Visitor Center so I got her email address and will email them to her. Spoke to her husband and he’s a lifelong resident of Watson Lake. YIKES!

It’s hours from White Horse, the nearest “big city” of 24,000. He’s glad they surfaced the Highway because whereas now you can go to Whitehorse and back in a day, before it used to be a 2 day trip.

Spent the night at Rancheria Lodge. Very accommodating. Their RV and campsites were closed so the manager let me use one of her motel rooms to shower. Cost 10 bucks and they had good wi-fi.
 

9 MAY 2011

 
Got up to about 24 degrees at 6 AM. Looks like it might be another fine day. The Lodge’s restaurant wasn’t open so I headed out finally stopping at a rest area to heat water for coffee. Lots of snow still on the ground so I re-stock the cooler occasionally.

Except here.

As the snow melts it reveals a phenomena common to many high country locations: pee bottles. Truckers and those who sleep in their cars, rather than going outside, pee in bottles. Except these clowns, instead of finding a bathroom later on down the road to empty them, just chuck them outside. As the weather warms, lots of bottles with various shades of yellow liquid in them present themselves.

Went past lots of campgrounds and resorts that are still closed. One, in particular, Dawson Peaks, looks spectacularly situated. Hope to stop in on the return leg.

Crossed over the Teslin Bridge. Nice turnout about it to take pictures. Teslin Lake straddles the Yukon Territory and British Columbian border. It’s 186 miles long averaging 2 miles across and about 190 feet deep. The name is taken from the Indian, Teslin-too, which means “long, narrow water.”

Teslin gas prices are $1.36 CAD (about $1.42 US per liter.)

Took a side trip to Carcross but lots of stuff still closed and the “desert” was under snow. Strange little thing they have here on the tundra…..the world’s smallest desert and an International Biophysical Program site for ecological studies.

Made it to Whitehorse relatively early in the afternoon and got into the BeezKneez Hostel. Was in a 4 person dorm room; they provided linens and pillows. Just as I asked about wi-fi, the power (hydro) went out. Turns out it’s a regular thing and at one time a bird flew into the nearby hydro plant and knocked it out.

Proprietress told me it could be 10 minutes or 10 hours. Given that the entire town would be affected and I could not get gas, go shopping, go to the visitors’ center, etc. as they bar the doors for security purposes and since they were close to the SS Klondike, a stern-wheeler steam ship, I walked there to check it out but it was too cold, about 42 degrees, windy and cloudy. The river was still breaking up and lots of ice everywhere. So I took some pictures and headed back after about 45 minutes.

The S.S. Klondike looks like it’s from the 1880s but it was built in 1929 to haul cargo. It could carry twice what other ships were capable of (300 tons) but ran aground in 1936. The current iteration is what was re-built from scrapped parts in 1937. It worked hauling people, parts, cargo and mail until 1955 between Whitehorse and Dawson City.

Another interesting object in Whitehorse is the “weathervane”, an old DC-3 aircraft (a C-47 military aircraft) that flew missions in 1942 supporting Asia.) She flew for several Canadian airlines until 1970!!!!! That year it blew an engine and they decided to scrap the airplane until several years later an aircraft engineer decided to save her. She’s now mounted on a pylon and looks like a weathervane.

Very nice hostel. Super clean. Quiet (bonus!!) and everyone polite.

Talking to Nancy, the manager, about how much Whitehorse changed and she started railing about how Wal-Mart moved in and built on some wetlands. The subject was moved along that path after I’d commented about having seen “beaver-chewed” trees near the SS Klondike.

Anyway, after the power came back and I made something to eat, I headed out to reconnoiter the town and purposely went to see where Wal-Mart was. No, it was not out there all by its lonesome. There were a shitload of other larger, Canadian big-box stores there, too. So I headed back intent on picking a bone with her.

I asked her why it was she felt like she needed to single out Wal-Mart for kicking around when other stores were there, too. Furthermore, I told her, why isn’t she blaming her local politicians for having allowed Wal-Mart to build since it is not likely in Canada that a major company can come in and just start building without permission, plans, mitigation efforts, etc.

She was, appropriately, silent on the matter. Like most do-good liberals who can’t argue their way out of a wet bag made of kleenex.

A German couple were there, a student from China, studying at Prince Rupert, a “regular” older man who passes through quite regularly as he does routine maintenance for oil and gas companies. Also another guy who was the only one who applied for a job working the roads here. He applied from Halifax, the other side of the country! It’s a great job. They send you out, give you a truck, pay your hotels and on top of salaray, get $100 per diem for food. Also talked to a guy from the Brighton, England who was heading back after having been here for 9 months.

As for the Chinese student, the Canadians are getting money from them however they can. He was headed to Dawson City, out by the Arctic Circle, and stopped to get gas in this town of 8 people. His tire went flat right there in front of the gas station/hotel combo. He found the mechanic who told him that he could not fix his tire until the following morning as he’d been drinking. I looked at the other folks in the hostel and we all basically told the Chinese guy, named Poni Ji, that he’d just got taken to the cleaners as the mechanic probably owned the hotel (which, conveniently, cost $140 per night.) The next day the tire got fixed……for $80!!!!!!!

We asked Poni if he felt like it hurt to sit down afterwards.
 

10 MAY 2011

 
Cold again this morning but I was indoors so did not care. Got up at 6 and headed out by 7:30. Looks like it might be a nice day but the weatherman says rain near Destruction Bay. He was right. Got rain, sleet, snow, wind. Then the sun would come out and the pattern would repeat itself.

Given that the forecast is for sun over the next several days, (and given that the words “Anchorage” and “sun” are mutually exclusive) I am headed directly for Tok hoping to get there by 4PM.

Gas at Haines Junction is $1.40 a liter. The road out of Haines Junction is very smooth and quiet. A welcome relief from the noisy surface so far.

Kluane Lake, a magnificently beautiful area bordered by mountains you could almost reach out and touch, was almost invisible given the snow, sleet and rain and low cloud cover.

A half hour or so out of Haines Junction the road got really rough. Felt like I was driving the old Alaskan Highway. Heaves, dips, washboards.

It really can’t be fixed because it sits on perma-frost which, when it melts, turns the earth slushy and the pavement caves in. Then when it freezes, it makes matters worse.

Got a picture of the world’s largest gold panning pan at Burwash. It’s one of the oldest settlements in the Yukon, originally established in 1904 by a couple of brothers to provide supplies for local miners.

Met Denise and Mike who live in Everglade City Florida. They have a home in Anchorage and live there 6 months a year. They can afford it as both are retired Fed-Ex pilots.

Finally made it to Alaska about 2 PM. The roads are much smoother now!!! Still no cell coverage.

Checked into the Sourdough RV park and got cell phone coverage then lost it. Should be better tomorrow.

They were also reasonably priced. Since it wasn’t too late I did my laundry and got that over with. Looks to be a cold night.

Ran across Jasmine and Cassiday. I first saw them at Dawson Creek, then at the Liard Hot Springs. From there I saw them some other place along the road. And now, again, tonight.

They are headed to Denali to work for some outfitter there. They are from Hawaii so I asked them if my assumption that they are not doing this for the money is correct given what it costs to fly to and from Hawaii and then driving from Oregon (which is where they drove from.) They concurred and said it was more an adventure than anything else.

Jasmine’s parents are old hippies and still live the lifestyle. As does Jasmine. Surprised?

Anyway, to continue reading about this journey, please click here to go to the Alaska page.

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