Alaska 2014

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER coming back to San Jose are in [square brackets].

 

Report 21. Day 21. Sun, May 25. Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson.

Here's our site. Pretty average, but in the woods anyway. {Woods? What woods? Is Bob seeong things?}

It's 703 am and we're both slow getting around. I'm a little dizzy and Sharon says she hurts all over. Singing the 'North to Alaska' song continuously while we're doin' it makes one tired..

In spite of the miles and miles we've already driven through Alberta and BC, we're going into town to get a picture of the zero mile marker of the Alaska Highway in downtown Dawson Creek.

I think I could doctor red-taped store window a little and make this the map from Denver to Alaska.

Before we take off, and after we both settle into our places in the truck, I chuckle while I show Sharon what the GPS programmed as our route from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson. You'll get a kick out of this, so hold onto your hats.

If you look carefully, you'll see that the path the GPS has laid out for us to go the roughly 250-300 miles to Fort Nelson starts with us driving to San Jose, California, then back up. We crack up.

We refuel on the way into town at 9271 on the odometer. $136 for 3/4 of a tank. Life is good.

We take a few pictures in town, then head back out. We drive by the 'fire hall', as they apparently call the fire station. There are two crashed cars sitting on the edge of their parking lot, we think as an advertisement example of what not to do.

We head out and are looking for moose. Sharon sees a likely spot (isolated shallow stream or pond) and says, "That looks like a moosey spot." Moosey. I like it.

Coming from Missouri, I have always been interested in how they have baled and stacked hay. We see the large cylindrical-shaped bales that most everybody uses now, but they stack one on top of another by putting the bottom one on its end, then rotating the top one, and lying it down on its side, on top of the bottom one. Or, if you like pictures better than those hopeless words...

Today's area is called the breadbasket of British Columbia. We see lots of farms and farm service industry buildings. Not very moosey.

Drive past the 27th moose sign of the day, we do, producing a total of zero moose. Mooseless.

We approach a famous very, very steep, very very long hill called Taylor Hill, ending up at a bridge which crosses the Peace River, into the town of Taylor. I'm reminded of the Little Rascals when the hoodlums challenge Spanky and the gang to a race down a steep hill. Spanky gulps, and says, "What hill?" {The Milepost book says this is the longest suspension bridge on the AlCan Highway. If you are not familiar with the Milepost, it catalogs eveything you pass and see when you travel the Alaska Canada Highway that was built in 1942 during World War II for troops to be able to easily reach Alaskaawhere they were afraid Japan might try to invade. The trave llog starts here in Dawson's Creek and the information is pegged to the number of miles or "milepost" distance from there. As you set your odometer to "0" in Dawson Creek the book will tell you road conditions, things to see in each area and what is in the upcoming town. Very helpful as you go along. I wish we had one for every state. They update it yearly so the one we have was compiled in 2013. I am the "reader" and give Bob the information, sometimes helpful, as "when is the next rest area or gas station?" and sometimes just the history of the area we are going through which I think he only half listens to. Yes but I listen to the good half. But I really like the historical tidbits they tell you. They also tell you if you are going through an area where you are likely to see different animals.}

9318 on the odometer and we pull into a Walmart in Fort St. John. I go to the pharmacy and ask for a course of Cipro, learning that I was mistaken in my belief that you didn't need a prescription in Canada {He had been able to get some Scopolamine patches for our sea trips without a prescription} for that drug. We still have one course in the fridge though, for whoever needs it. We do other shopping at Walmart, then have breakfast in the encompassed McDonalds.

We learn all kinds of things on a trip like this. Muskwa means bear in the local Native American language. Also a bridge ahead of us washed out almost every year till 1970, when they designed and built one much higher over the water.

A big old Paul Bunyan type guy glides by on our left. I wonder if he can rebound.

We crest a hill, and come to Pink Mountain, a town and also a mountain. {Pink for the Willow bushes thar have not leafed out yet and look pink from their branches. See what you learn from the Milepost?}There are quite a few trailers, a hotel, a pub. An enormous dark cloud looms ahead of us. I love driving in the rain, as well as in the snow. But a sunny day -- who wants to drive in THAT? A sign says Sasquatch Crossing ahead.

We are climbing now and the ravens seem extra big. I'm wondering if it is their magic that is bringing all this snow at the moment. I don' know, maybe it's our attitude, er altitude. 3500 feet doesn't seem that high.

The rain/snow picks up and we begin to get hard splats on the windshield.

The forests are beginning to be stunted. A sign says slow and that there's a hill coming. We make our way down that, whew. Another sign says, slow, steep hill coming. A one two punch.

The rain, I guess it is now, is coming down hard. Suddenly Sharon points to the left, and I think she's gonna say moose, but she yells, "Wolf!" Holding the steering wheel fixed, I turn quickly and see a light-colored wolf walking in the opposite direction we are driving, right beside the road. A big guy. {It is my job at times to be the animal spotter. Bob would prefer if I can say "Wolf, on your left". Or "Eagle perched in pine tree on your right" as that immediately helps him spot the animal. We also have a routine now where I have the "good" camera and when we see an animal, I turn on the camera, push the "movie" functon before I hand it to him as he is pulling off the road. That way he is immediately taking video of the animal. The camera has the ability to "capture" still shots of the animal while still filming a movie.}

And next? Rain, rain, rain, rain.

We cross Bucking Horse River, a little settlement with lots of trailers, and Bucking Horse River Lodge. Sharon thinks these are dormitories for the male workers who are here for temporary work {Lots of natural gas drilling, pipe line maintenance here.}. Maybe a combination of dorms and a lodge.

There are almost never any advertising road signs, but occasionally, there'll be a turnoff to a gravel road, and there'll be thirty signs stuck up there. I think it's just advertising stuff to sell to the young temporary workers, but Sharon says she's actually read some of them, and they seem to be announcements of work locations for certain projects.

And now, at about 2 pm, not only has the rain totally stopped, but the road is dry and there is a blue sky with white puffy clouds.

A sign announces the Prophet River, a First Nation place.Sharon reads in the Milepost that there are a number of pits from digging gravel in the past, but they are now filled with water, and are fishing ponds.

We pass some sort of oil pipeline project, but it is labeled a dehydration field. Not sure what that is.

2:55pm, and WE'VE GOT BEAR. Left side of the road. It's a black bear. They look like little black balls from afar, and are so dark, they make me think of black holes. We see him with enough lead time that we go into what's now the practiced ritual Sharon described if the animal is on my side. And this guy is. I get great photos and video as he walks back in the direction we came from. I'm twisting slowly, trying not to jostle the smoothness of the video, and my neck starts cramping. I get a pained look on my face, and Sharon asks what's wrong. I ask Sharon to release my seat belt, and I finally just jerk myself 90 degrees to the left, with my knees bent, so I'm able to face out the window without turning my neck. Whew. This bear is a one-direction because he just relentlessly and slowly walks the opposite direction that we are going.

We pass two power poles with alternating red and white striping going up the pole. A red ball is attached to a cable between the poles. There are also six other small poles with little red squares. Sharon thinks that this is an emergency landing and takeoff "strip" for doctors who have to drop in. What's that called? Doctors without borders, or something like that.

The day continues to be beautiful, with lots of sunshine and zippety doo dah coming our way.

We pull into the night's RV park, and are directed to our pull-through spot. It's very uneven, and we have to park half in one site and half in the one right behind us. Here's Sharon, hand on chin, trying to decide how to tell me that the stack of two by sixes I have to drive the trailers right side onto, to get level Left-to-right, isn't going to work. But we get it eventually.

 

I go back to the front desk to ask if that's ok or do they want us to move. They say they don't expect to fill up, and to stay right where we are. Nice.

Here's the door to get to the front desk.

Drive a lot, sleep a little, drive a lot. This would be monotonous except for all the great wild animals and scenery we are getting. Plus we work on crossword puzzles, listen to music, Sharon reads from a couple of inspirational books we have, we listen to the comedy channel on satellite radio, or listen to one of the nine books on CD I checked out of the library before we left. Lots of stuff. Plus I take naps giving Sharon experience driving, and I am happy to say I have no trouble worrying about me not driving. Sharon's an excellent driver.

It's always great to get set up in camp every night and relax.

Cheers to you all,
Bob and Sharon


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