Tag Archives: Canadian Rockies

Life’s A Trip – In a Pickup Truck

This is the first in the Life’s A Trip series featuring different ways we are approaching  this journey of life.

Life’s a journey – whether you are on the road to adventure or parked in one spot for a while.  There are many different stops along the way.

This is about the places we have discovered while venturing around the U.S. in a four-wheel-drive pickup truck for the last couple of years.

We were living in a historical old log cabin at the tree farm when the wanderlust hit.
We were living in a historical old log cabin at the tree farm when the wanderlust hit.

We had lived in the same place for over 40 years when we looked around one day and saw that our kids were grown up and moved away and exploring distant horizons.  We looked at each other and decided we could do that too.  Selling the 30-acre homestead, we downsized our stuff, upgraded the RV and took off.  We spread a map on the kitchen table, closed our eyes and jabbed a finger at…  Alaska.  (It wasn’t quite that random; we had a daughter living and working in Alaska every summer and had been wanting to go there for a long time.)

Summer was months away, so I got a work-camp assignment at an old campground in Fillmore California for the winter and spring.

We are ready; let's go!
We are hitched up, packed up, and ready to go!

Michigan to California

As we rolled along the prairie, the tumbleweed was rolling too.
We rolled along the prairie across Oklahoma and Texas – like a tumbleweed rolling in the wind.
We were the only visitors on a January day at Red Rocks State Park near Mojave, California.
We were the only visitors on a January day at Red Rocks State Park near Mojave, California.
Parked at the campground for the winter, I worked half-time for our campsite with all the hookups.
Parked at the campground for the winter, I worked half-time for our campsite.

We had family nearby at Santa Barbara and accompanied them to the beaches and eateries in the area.

California to Alaska

Summer came and leaving our work-camp assignment, we headed north up the Pacific Coast Highway toward the Canadian border.

The campground is linear at Seacliff, California, 2 miles long and 20 feet wide.
The oceanside campground is linear at Seacliff, California, 2 miles long and 20 feet wide.

We drove 1900 miles before reaching the beginning of the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

Dawson Creek, BC

The mountains were forest-covered a Chilliwack, BC.
The mountains were forest-covered at Chilliwack, BC.
The Alaska Highway is 1500 miles of rugged mountains, valleys, forest and tundra.
The Alaska Highway is 1500 miles of rugged mountains, valleys, forest and tundra.
Sometimes we had a campground to ourselves and were off the grid.
Sometimes we had a campground to ourselves and were completely off the grid.

After 15 days of driving we arrived at Denali Park where our daughter was working and living for the summer.  We stayed through the middle of the summer.

Our campsite was nestled behind the log cabin shops near the entrance of Denali National Park.
Our campsite was nestled behind the log cabin shops near the entrance of Denali National Park.
I spent the summer hiking and four-wheeling around Denali.
I spent the summer hiking and four-wheeling around Denali.

Our trek back to Michigan in the late summer took 11 days returning over the same mountain passes and open prairie.

Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico.

After spending the late summer and fall in Michigan, we set our sights on the south, again hoping to escape the harsh northern winter.  Leaving at the end of December, we arrived in Memphis on New Years Eve for dinner and a party at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Our campsite at Tom Sawyer campground was right on the shore of the Mississippi River.
Our campsite at Tom Sawyer campground was right on the shore of the Mississippi River.

We arrived the next evening at Dauphin Island, Alabama for a month of barefoot beach walking and languishing in beach chairs.

The beaches are white sand along the Gulf at Dauphin Island.
The beaches are white sand along the Gulf at Dauphin Island.
Dauphin Island is blessed with many miles of good bike paths.
Dauphin Island is blessed with many miles of good bike paths.

The local Mardi Gras parade marched right by our campground.  We also visited New Orleans on a day trip.

Alabama to Florida

I was delighted to arrive in St. Augustine, Florida and discover that driving on the beach is a thing there, four-wheel-drive required.

St. Augustine Beach drive

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At low tide the beach is 100 yards wide and allows plenty of room for drivers, bikers, and walkers.

Up the East Coast

In the spring, we wandered up the east coast through Georgia and South Carolina, staying for a month at Emerald Isle, North Carolina, then stopping for a few days in Virginia from where we made day trips to Washington D.C. visiting the major sites by means of the double-decker bus.

Driving on the beach is permitted at Emerald Isle... for a price.
Driving on the beach is permitted at Emerald Isle… for a price.

Arriving back in Michigan, we spent the summer at a campground with a bike trail and a small lake.

Our campground was only a few miles from the grandkids, so we had company often.
Our campground was only a few miles from the grandkids, so we had company often.

At the end of the year, we parked the rig for a while and flew to the tropics for the winter.  That’s another story.

In the spring we decided to take a break from the gypsy life for a while. We moved into a small apartment in a small town in Michigan.

West again to Utah – the Pickup Camper

We were enjoying staying put for a while, but for some time I had been planning a return to the southwest for a photo shoot in the canyons of Utah.  Rather than haul the RV, I switched to a pickup camper that was just big enough for one person.

Getting off the highway, I looked for the most remote and solitary places that I could get to with a sturdy four-wheel-drive pickup.

On the trail to Cathedral Valley, Capital Reef. I had to ford the Fremont River to get to this lonely 2-track.
On the trail to Cathedral Valley, Capital Reef National Park, I had to ford the Fremont River to get to this lonely 2-track.
On a rainy day at Devil's Garden near Escalante, Utah, I was glad not to be camping in a tent.
On a rainy day at Devil’s Garden near Escalante, Utah, I was glad not to be camping in a tent.
The drop-offs along the White Rim Road command a lot of respect in Canyonlands National Park.
The drop-offs along the White Rim Road command a lot of respect in Canyonlands National Park.
I had to drive the pickup onto boulders to level the camper at Valley of the Gods.
I had to drive the pickup onto some stones to level the camper at Valley of the Gods.
I camped at the foot of a tall butte at Valley of the Gods.
I camped at the foot of a tall butte at Valley of the Gods.
Getting to the White Rim Road required driving through creek beds and crossing dry washes.
Getting to the White Rim Road required driving through creek beds and crossing dry washes.

So, there you have it.  These are only a few of the many places we have visited with a pickup truck over the last couple of years.  There are more ahead of us, I’m sure.

People often ask us what is our favorite spot and we never know what to say.  It’s impossible to narrow it to one location.

I guess we will have to keep looking.

One thing is for sure though:  the most frequent campsite we have enjoyed has been the Walmart parking lot.  But so far, we have not visited the same one twice.

Camping in the parking lot at Walmart, Grand Junction, Colorado.
Camping in the parking lot at Walmart, Grand Junction, Colorado.

If you want a scare, view my YouTube video:  A White-knuckle Drive on the White Rim Road.

An Extravagance of Space

I have lived in North America for most of my life and have only been vaguely aware of the luxurious space in which we live.  I became more aware of it while traveling the Alaska Highway last summer. Many times when I was ready to pull back onto the road after a fuel stop or an overnight campground stay,  I would look both ways for an opening in traffic…  and not see another vehicle in either direction.  Really.  As far as the eye could see.  Nobody.

I was repeatedly surprised — and a bit unnerved — at the vastness of it all.

Not another vehicle in sight, as far as the eye can see.
The Alaska Highway across the Yukon.  Not another vehicle in sight, for miles and miles.

Canada has a population density of 9 people per square mile (the US has 48).  That amounts to a lot of uninhabited space.  I have had anxiety issues in traffic before, usually in the middle of a 5-lane-wide traffic jam in some inner city.  But out in the vast and lonely stretches of the Alaska Highway I almost had anxiety issues of another sort imagining what it would take (and what it would cost) to acquire help in case of a breakdown when the nearest town was hundreds of miles away — and there was no cellular service anyway.

The reality of our isolation was profound.  We were quite truly and utterly alone.

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And now there’s another sort of space situation that we are facing, but it has more to do with elbow room than the availability of roadside services.

After four years of downsizing,  first from a 10-room house to a one-room log cabin,  we have finally sold both the house and the log cabin on our 30-acre property of 42 years and are hitting the road in a 29-foot fifth wheel.  Fortunately, we have already tried it out for awhile, traveling the country for the last year, but we still had the Michigan property and plenty of storage space for our stuff.

We have started moving the last of our stuff into the storage unit.
We have started moving the last of our stuff into storage.

 We were able to be extravagant about what we kept while sorting through our lifetime accumulated stash, because we had enough room to store everything.

But that is no longer true.

We just brought home our new home-away-from-home... in a snowstorm.
We are moving from the log cabin into the RV for the next few years – and leaving snow behind.

So we are moving the last of our keepsakes into one of those self-storage units and will inhabit a tiny mobile space for the next few years.  They say that that sort of close co-habitation will either cause two people to bond inseparably…  or make them kill each other!

Our salvation from cabin fever has always been the great outdoors.  We have lived in rural Michigan for most of our adult lives and could safely walk or bike the side roads or the pathways and lanes on the property.  Shoot, I had a private  route mapped out — and mowed — for jogging a mile without even leaving the property.

But part of our reason for selling the place is the brutality of the  Michigan winters.  The cold and ice and snow brought about a virtual house arrest as it were, trapping us inside for a third of every year.

For two active retirees who like to get out and walk several miles every day, that’s not good.  And we are doing something about it.  We are heading south during the wintertime.  Now we’ll be looking for new open spaces, new bike lanes and boardwalks and walking trails in every new place we live over the next years, hopefully in places where we need not worry about slipping and falling on icy roads or sidewalks.

We’ll be looking for other extravagant spaces.  Nature trails and wildlife areas and rail trails and beaches.  Especially beaches.

The beach at Seacliff.
I loved the beach at Seacliff, California last winter — entirely unaffected by the Polar Vortex.

Because Americans really do enjoy an extravagance of space.  Even RV-ers living in their highly efficient but tiny mobile spaces.

(Just think, you could have been born in Macau, the most heavily populated country in the world, with a population density of more than 73,000 people per square mile.)

Yukon Do It!

Alaska Highway Milepost 3,678  Lincoln, Nebraska

Having completed the Alaska Highway – both out and back – there are some tips that I would share with the next would-be adventurer to help you survive the ordeal.  And yes, like any other challenge, there is both good and bad that awaits you.  Thoughtful preparation will minimize the negatives and ensure an enjoyable experience.

The Alaska Highway skirts Kluane Lake in the Yukon.
The Alaska Highway skirts Kluane Lake in the Yukon Territory.  Most of it is paved.
  • First of all, it will streamline the entire venture if you do your homework before leaving your house.  Study the route and know where you are going, which attractions you want to stop and explore, where you plan to stop each night, and where you can stock up on provisions.  The most comprehensive help that most travelers get comes from the famous Mileposts publication.  We ordered one from Amazon.com along with an Alaska atlas of maps.  We kept both in the pickup cab and referred to them constantly.
    This RV park at Coal River, Yukon, was 100 miles from the nearest power grid and was operating on its own generator.  We had the campground to ourselves for the night.
    This RV park at Coal River, Yukon, was more than 100 miles from the nearest power grid and was operating on its own generator. We had the campground to ourselves for the night.
  • Another thing to do before heading north is to prepare your vehicle.  Your tires need to be in good condition along with a solid spare for both the RV and the tow vehicle.  Make sure you are able to change a tire if necessary.  Replace worn belts and hoses and change the oil.
    Your vehicle needs to be ready for just about anything, although this sort of off-roading is not required along the highway.
    Your vehicle needs to be ready for just about anything, especially if you plan to go into the backcountry for fishing, hiking, four-wheeling and the like.
  • It is important to inform your bank and credit card company that you will be traveling internationally so your cards won’t be flagged and leave you stranded at the gas pump.  Carry multiple sources of revenue and keep a reserve of funds on hand for inflated costs and emergencies.  Assume that you will see an expensive souvenir that you just have to have for the grandkids. We found ATM’s located in far-away places and carried cash for those times when the bankcard wouldn’t fly at the gas stop.  It happened several times.
Many of the roadhouses have closed, some many years ago, some last year.  Even Mileposts magazine listed some that we found no longer in service.
Many of the roadhouses have closed, some many years ago, some last year. Even Mileposts magazine listed some that we found no longer in service.  We filled our tank often to avoid being stranded.
  • Also in the planning stages, set aside as much time for this trip as you possibly can; there is a whole lot to see and it is spread out over a vast area.  We spent about 2 weeks on the road each way, and more than 5 weeks at the Denali area.  Still we did not see everything we could have.
A side trip to the old Independence Gold Mine in the mountains above Anchorage, was a hike that I was able to take in after parking the rig at the RV park for the night.
A side trip to the old Independence Gold Mine in the mountains above Anchorage, was a hike that I was able to take in after parking the rig at the RV park for the night.
  • The Alaska Highway is in a state of constant reconstruction and should be approached with a realistic sensibility.  Backup plans need to be in place for those days when you don’t reach your destination because you’ve been caught in a construction zone for a couple of hours.  Flexibility and a good attitude will help.
Traffic across this bridge was narrowed to one lane while workers maintained the superstructure beneath.
Traffic across this bridge was narrowed to one lane while workers maintained the superstructure beneath.
  • Don’t count on internet and iPhone service anywhere beyond the Canadian border.  Our cell phones worked for calls (big roaming charges) when we were in towns and RV parks, but not out in the boonies, and our mobile wifi didn’t work anywhere in Canada or Alaska.  There are hundreds-of-mile stretches with no service, so make sure you still know how to navigate the old fashioned way.  Fortunately, we were able to get (weak) internet service at some of the RV parks where we stayed, so we were able to keep up with our online banking, email and Facebook updates, and so on, but the bandwidth was never sufficient enough for Skype, FaceTime, or uploading photos to the blog.  Bummer.

For most people, driving the Alaska Highway is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.  It will be memorable either way, but if things go well, it will be a positive memory rather than a disaster.  If it’s on your bucket list, I hope you plan ahead and have a great time.  Be safe!

The biggest hazard on the Alaska Highway is the wildlife.  Moose, bears, bison and caribou are all large and will completely destroy your vehicle if you hit one.
The biggest hazard on the Alaska Highway is the wildlife. Moose, bears, bison and caribou are all large and will completely destroy your vehicle if you hit one.

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Gorgeous sights line the Alaska Highway from beginning to end.  This is the mountain range the road follows between Delta Junction and Fairbanks.
Gorgeous sights line the Alaska Highway from beginning to end. This is the Alaska Range viewed from the north along the road between Delta Junction and Fairbanks.

Go Climb a Mountain

Milepost 7-7-14    McKinley Park, Alaska

“Climbing a mountain” is a figurative expression that is used to acknowledge the presence of a monumental challenge, something that we know will be difficult. It could be something like pursuing a college degree or quitting smoking or any of a thousand other tough quests.
For us three years ago, it was the process of downsizing and moving out of our house of 40 years so we could move into an RV and pursue life on the road. It was truly monumental.

This was the climb of a lifetime for me, the summit of the Mt. Healy Overlook.
This was the climb of a lifetime for me, the summit of the Mt. Healy Overlook.

But yesterday, “climbing a mountain” was not figurative language for me but an actual event.  After a couple weeks of consideration and a practice run at it, I took on the challenge of the difficult hiking trail to the Mt. Healy Overlook.   A week before, I had hiked the first half of it then turned back, deciding it was too strenuous. Finally, I was able to view the first attempt as conditioning for yesterday’s ultimate climb. And it worked; I made it to the top, a vertical climb of 1,700 feet over 2.3 miles!  In fact, I cut a bit of time off the predicted duration of 4 to 5 hours for the round trip.

At higher elevations this trail didn't appear to be much more than a mountain goat path.
At higher elevations this trail didn’t appear to be much more than a mountain goat path.

Arriving back in the canyon in the late afternoon, I went to see Scott at Denali Adventure Tours to update him on the details of the climb (Yes, I decided that the steep trail would be more accurately described as a “climb” rather than a hike).   That’s when I discovered that my first information ranking the difficulty of the climb as “moderate” was bad intel.  Sure enough, Scott’s vast encyclopedia of adventure knowledge pegged that trail as “strenuous”.   Now I could believe that!
As I had been scrambling over large boulders on the upper slopes I had heard myself grumbling under my breath about the guy who must have ranked the trail without ever climbing it. “Only a 16-year-old athlete would call this a “moderate” hike!” I fumed.

Having brought along their camp stove, these climbers rewarded themselves with a hot meal at the summit.
Having brought along their camp stove, these climbers rewarded themselves with a hot meal at the summit.

In terms of “Climbing a mountain”, this one was the real thing! The truth is, I would definitely not have taken on that climb if I had known up front what a grueling challenge I was in for.  But now that I’ve done it, I’m happy about it…  and happy to still be alive!

Here are more photos of my adventure:

The climbers swapped cameras to photographically document their accomplishment.
The climbers swapped cameras to document their climbing accomplishment with photographs.

Climbers at the Mt. Healy summit

Wow, the trail on the ridge leads into the distance.  I'd love to follow it, but not this time.
Wow, the trail on the ridge leads into the distance. I’d love to follow it, but don’t have any strength left…  and there’s still the descent ahead of me.
Mt. Healy beckons from across the canyon from Denali Adventure Tours where owner and answer man, Scott, takes it all in.
Mt. Healy beckons from across the canyon where Denali Adventure Tours  owner and answer man, Scott, enjoys the panorama.

What is your next mountain that needs climbing?

 

Rock and Snow – Mt. McKinley Fly-By

Milepost 7-1-14   Mt. McKinley, Alaska

“Tree line is at 3,000 feet,” said our pilot, Dan.  “Above 7,000 feet there’s just rock and snow.”  We had just taken off in a little 8-seater plane for a fly-by of Mt. McKinley, the highest point on the North American continent, and Dan was already sharing his comprehensive knowledge of the mountain geography, naming rivers, glaciers and mountains as we skimmed over snow-capped peaks on a bee-line for Denali.

An aerial view of the Polychrome Mountains also reveals a distance glimpse of the Parks Highway on the other side of the valley.
An aerial view of the Polychrome Mountains also reveals a distant glimpse of the Parks Highway skirting the other side of the valley.

At first there was a lot of color as we climbed out of the dark green forest, but before long there was only snow and rocky cliffs, sure enough.  There were glaciers by the dozen, some of them perched in hanging valleys, others stretching into the distance like long wide rivers of ice.

Denali panorama

Mountains with glacier

Our flight took us delightfully close to the jagged peaks as Dan zig-zagged his way between spires and pinnacles all along the way.  We soon reached Mount McKinley itself, a huge, disorganized heap of rock with all sorts of cliffs and mounds facing in all directions and several glaciers oozing from its high canyons and valleys.Denali glacierHigh peak near DenaliPretty soon we made a wide banking turn over a massive glacier and headed back through the dizzying maze of peaks as Dan pointed out a trail across a snow field left by the last team of climbers on the mountain.  I wondered how they knew where it was safe to cross; I was seeing dozens of crevasses from the air.Denali crevasses

Eldridge glacier is 35 miles long and hundred of feet thick.
Eldridge glacier is 35 miles long and hundreds of feet thick.

Mountains

This flight to the Mountain was certainly the pinnacle of my Alaska experience.  We are just about halfway through our summer in the land of the midnight sun and realizing that it is such a vast area that we will not get to see everything; there is just no way.Denali glacier verticle

Seeing it from the air certainly covers a lot of territory in a short time.  Maybe I’ll get to catch another flight around the Mountain before my time is up here.   What a natural high!

Dan was my pilot on Denali Air.
Dan does a great job as pilot and owner of the flight-seeing company, Denali Air.

 My flight was arranged by my son-in-law, Scott, the owner of Denali Adventure Tours.  It’s just one of many adventure trips they provide.

(Click on any of the photos in this post to see a larger view.)

The Alaska Highway – The Adventuring Persona

Milepost 3395  Dawson City, BC, to Delta Junction, Alaska.

Everywhere we stopped along the Alaska Highway we met people, and here’s the thing:  They were all originally from somewhere else.  Texas, Utah, Ohio, Ontario, Ireland or parts farther removed, they gave varying answers to the first question that we all asked each other at every new stop: “Where are you from?”  Not until we reached the most remote settlements in the Yukon did we encounter the First Nation folks who would answer, “Here.  Always been here.”

Donna at Coal River Lodge at Milepost 533, was the owner and chief cook.  Her lodge is up for sale.
Donna at Coal River Lodge at Milepost 533, was the owner and chief cook for 14 years. Now her lodge is up for sale.

Coal River Lodge

The other unique trait of these immigrants to the great north was their eccentricity.  It seems that the sort of people who would answer the call of the wild are the sort that are essentially non-conformists.  Undaunted by solitude and the lack of conveniences, they had settled into the most unwelcoming locations this side of the border where services were limited and dangers were high.

Paul has spent his life servicing the heavy equipment at the lodges along the Alcan Highway.
Paul has spent his life servicing the heavy equipment at the lodges along the Alaska Highway.
Alfred, born in Texas, was perpetually cycling the Alaska Highway, at 71 years old sometimes pedaling all night to reach the next outpost.
Homeless Alfred, born in Texas, is perpetually cycling the Alaska Highway, at 71 years old the constant wanderer sometimes pedaling all night to reach the next outpost.

Every roadhouse and lodge was operated by displaced or re-placed  – or maybe mis-placed wanderers.  We met RV park owners who had come out from the city to start a new life, we met university students working a summer job in the tourist industry, and there were cooks and heavy equipment repairmen helping to keep the outposts operating for one more season.

Toad River Lodge has 7,000 hats attached to the ceilings.
Toad River Lodge has a collection of 7,000 hats attached to the ceilings.

The other thing that was unusual about these unusual business owners was the quirky attempts they made at competing for the diminishing tourist dollars.  Chainsaw carvings were popular, Old West themed RV parks, the “world’s largest weathervane (a DC-3 airplane mounted on a post)”, a museum of stuffed trophies from musk-ox to moose, or left-behind WWII vehicles (the troop transport still operating for bear tours through the forests out in back).

The western saloon-themed RV park at Fort Nelson, BC, had chainsaw-carved benches and rifles for door pulls.
The western saloon-themed RV park at Fort Nelson, BC, had chainsaw-carved benches and rifles for door pulls.

Log Bear Bench

So, one of the off-handed delights of the Road Trip of a Lifetime along the Alaska Highway is the quirky and tenacious proprieters of the entire 1,500-mile-long complex who are keeping it all going.

Or not.  Perhaps two-thirds of the lodges we passed were closed and boarded up, some a long time ago, some last year.  It’s a rough life up here, and it’s a rougher job trying to keep the outposts open when the tourist revenue is diminishing year by year.

We developed a deep appreciation for these tough folks who serve the would-be adventurers like us, keeping us safe for the night and fueling us up for the next stretch of highway.  Mighty good folks there, all along the way, and we enjoyed meeting them!

The Signpost Forest was started by Carl Lindley, a US soldier who was helped construct the Highway.  We added our sign to the 72,000+ collection.
The Signpost Forest at Watson Lake, Yukon, was started by a US soldier who helped construct the Alaska Highway. We added our sign to the 72,000+ collection.
Can you find our sign at the Sign Forest?  (Just left of and slightly below center.)
Can you find our sign at the Sign Forest? (It’s just about in the center.  Click on photo to enlarge.)

Here are a few more photos that we captured along our transit of the official 1,488 miles of the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek BC to Delta Junction, Alaska:

The second log bridge at Canyon Creek was designed to carry military vehicles and civilian traffic alike.
The second log bridge at Canyon Creek was designed to carry military vehicles and civilian traffic alike.  It would have easily supported our pickup and RV but we crossed a newer one.
Canyon Creek bridge 2
Kaye studied the ingenious log engineering of the early bridge builders.
I explored the ruins of Silver City, Yukon, a once-thriving mining town of 3,000 residents.
I explored the ruins of Silver City in theYukon Territory, a once-thriving mining town of 3,000 residents, now empty.
The roadhouses were built to service the traffic along the Alaska Highway in 1942-1943. The one at Prophet River closed many years ago.
The roadhouses were built to service the traffic along the Alaska Highway in 1942-1943. This one at Prophet River BC, closed many years ago.
“Lum and Abner’s, Since 1942” says the sign on the truck door. It’s part of highway history now.

We finally reached Denali, a day’s travel past the end of the Alaska Highway, beyond Fairbanks.  We have found a campsite right behind The Black Bear Coffee House where our daughter, Wendi, works every summer.  I’ll be writing about their transient lives next.

We caught our first glimpse of Mt. McKinley (Denali) from 150 miles away before we reached Fairbanks.
The Alaska Range looks majestic from the highway east of  Fairbanks.

Miles and Miles of Mountains

Milepost 3395    Fort Nelson, Yukon, to Delta Junction Alaska

Well, we have traveled the official distance of the Alaska Highway which covers 1,488 miles between Dawson Creek, BC and Delta Junction in Alaska.  But nobody stops and stays in Delta Junction; it’s just an intersection on the way to several other more distant destinations.  We are heading on to Fairbanks tomorrow and then to our final goal, Denali Park where our kids live and work every summer.

I have made few blog posts along the way because I didn’t have access to the internet.   Further, several of the RV parks we stayed at were so far from the electrical grid that they were operating on their own power plants, so we could hear the faint hum of the generator all night.  Every village and lodge north of Fort Nelson has to generate its own electricity.  I guess wifi is a bit much to ask for when there isn’t even an electrical power grid in place.

For hundreds of miles we traveled along the foot of the Canadian mountain ranges.  That is, when we weren’t working our way over some steep high pass or through a narrow canyon.  We developed a new respect for the Rockies here.  No, call it what it is:  fear.  These mountains are beautiful from a distance, but up close they are intimidating.  Our adventure threshold was crossed several times into the area of anxiety.

It seemed we spent an entire day in second gear as the pickup labored up the steep climbs to Summit Pass only to be followed closely by the decline that required many miles of engine braking in order to save the brakes.  Scary stuff, man.

Our trek through the Yukon was an episode that deserves its own coverage, but let me quickly say that the roads there are terrible.  The Canadian engineers either haven’t learned yet how to design roads that will not be heaved by the permafrost every winter and summer, or they don’t have the money to do it right.  I suspect that funding is the big problem as there was a marked difference in the quality when we crossed into Alaska which is a rich petroleum state.

Anyway, the frost heaves have rendered the pavement a mess of dips and ridges and mounds that have turned the highway into an off-roader’s dream.  But for the RV-er it’s a nightmare.  35 mph was too fast for a lot of it.  We entered the RV with caution at every rest stop to push things back into their places in the cupboards and re-organize the stuff in the fridge.

I’ll be writing much more about this epic adventure in subsequent posts, but I want to say right here that, even though I didn’t entirely know what I was getting into, I do not regret my decision to assault the Alaska Highway with a pickup and an RV.  It assaulted me back, but I have lived to tell about it, and tell about it I will.

Watch for it in subsequent posts.  With photos.  I’ll add photos as soon as I return to digital civilization.