May 30, 2014
We had 2 1/2 days in Whitehorse to rest, be tourists and restock the trailer. Part of the adventure has been grocery shopping in British Columbia and now the Yukon. We figured out how to buy lunchmeat in grams and have enjoyed experimenting (being creative?) with food. We did find a great grocery store in Whitehorse, they even had an almond/cashew butter that is out of this world!
We have noticed the dark green trees and have not been sure about what kind of tree they are. Cliff asked a friend and the answer is, Black Spruce. The contrast between the Black Spruce and the lighter green of the other trees is quite remarkable. The Black Spruce are very tall but not very wide.
Today was a wild ride! The Milepost guide book (the Alaskan Highway bible) indicated we would encounter some rough road and boy, did we. We took it slow, Cliff did a good job negotiating the roller coaster ride and going around the potholes but we still had a mess when we opened up the trailer. The table hit one of the windows and broke the operating handle and knocked out the screen. One of the window valances fell off and many cupboard doors opened up and the contents moved. We have been feeling pretty smug that we had everything squared away for travel but not for roads like these!
Notice the red flag on the left indicating a rough place in the road. You can see how the permafrost has caused the road to heave up and down.
We are 55 miles from the Alaskan border and will head through customs in the morning, We have several options for where we go next but we wanted to stop and talk to people about the fires and if we can travel to the places we want to go. Staying flexible, part of the adventure!
Cyndy and Cliff
May 28, 2014
When I would day dream about driving the Alaskan Highway and spending a summer in Alaska, the pictures in my mind always had high snow-capped mountains, beautiful green valleys and crystal clear lakes and streams. Now that I’m living my day dream, we are taking a few days rest right here in Whitehorse to enjoy the view.
Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory, not a providence because of its low population. It was named after the White Horse Rapids because the rapids resemble the mane of a white horse. Whitehorse, as reported by Guinness World Records, is the city with the least air pollution in the world. However, because of the forest fires in Alaska it is currently quite hazy here.
It is small for being a capital city and one of the first things you notice is the murals painted on the back of the main street buildings. The Yukon River runs through the city, starting in British Columbia and emptying into the Bering Sea. During the early days of the gold rush, paddle wheelers ferried passengers and freight up and down the Yukon River to Dawson City, where gold and copper had been discovered. In the summer that took a day and a half. In the winter, dog sleds carried freight and that took 3-10 days depending on the weather.
The folks that I’ve talked to say that they don’t get much snow here but it does get cold. The record high was 93F and low was -61F.
I spent the day washing both trailer and truck, doing some basic maintenance and taking a nap. With 18 hours of sunlight here in May, we are glad that the trailer came with black-out shades. Cyndy spent some time cleaning, but has gotten to enjoy a day of sewing. We will probably spend another day here and leave on Friday.
Sidebar – Maintenance
About a year ago a friend told me that you shouldn’t buy a travel trailer until you retire. His rational was that the maintenance and upkeep is a full-time job. He may have been embellishing things just a little, but he did give me one more reason to retire.
Maintenance on our Lifestyle trailer started two months before it was delivered from the factory. That’s right! I watched at least a hundred YouTube videos on the tips and tricks of maintaining your RV specifically a 5th Wheel. I spent hours on the Lifestyle owner’s forum reading what owners had to say about their trailers, both good and challenging and all of this was on top of the experiences realized by owning our previous 5th Wheel. That trailer was problematic and the workmanship was disappointing but lessons learned are paying big dividends today.
Now that we live in our trailer, I have a maintenance schedule that’s several pages long. From checking for propane leaks to making sure that the torque on the wheel lug nuts. Following a scheduled maintenance plan is critical to the performance of a trailer.
Cyndy and I joke that the inside of the trailer is hers and the outside is mine. My domain includes a large “basement” (pictured) and two smaller basements. Well “basement” is RV lingo for what they call the storage compartments under the living area. Note that it’s big enough to double as a guest room or a dog house if I’m in trouble, but it’s also my workshop where I keep my tools and repair parts.
May 27, 2014
The drive from Watson Lake to Whitehorse was again, beautiful. The road followed several rivers and I lost count of how many bridges and lakes we saw. There were a few more RV’s out there on the road and the RV park here is certainly more full than the others we have visited. We have had the best weather with temps ranging from 60-80 during the day and 40-60 at night. Now if we could just turn off the sun at night…
We drove through Moose country today but did not see a single moose – nor bear, bison or sheep. We saw a really big bird and a couple of black crows but that is it. Dull by comparison to yesterdays wildlife sightings.
We are going to stay in Whitehorse a few days, kick back and relax. We are about 8 hours from the Alaskan border and planning to be there this weekend. The fires burning in Alaska are the cause of the haze hanging over Whitehorse.
Hi Country RV Park in Whitehorse, YK
We crossed over the Continental Divide today, no fancy marker or anything to mark the spot except that we started going downhill and our guidebook said so!
We explored Whitehorse this afternoon with stops at Walmart and the Visitor Center. They directed us to The Rib and Salmon House where we had a great dinner. We are looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow and maybe a bit more exploring!
Oh, we stopped at the Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake last night and took a few pictures. It was impressive!
Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake
Sign Post Forest
Sign Post Forest
Cyndy and Cliff
May 26, 2014
Happy Memorial Day! We are thankful to family and friends who have served in the military or are now serving in the military for choosing to stand for our country and serve in the military.
We thought we needed a lay over day of rest but when we got up this morning we were anxious to get on the road and see more wildlife. We have stopped for the day in Watson Lake, Yukon and camped in the only RV Park in town. Cliff is checking out the truck and talking to all of the guys in the park because that big red truck just calls to guys to come on over. I am working on the more practical side of life – making a grocery list, doing the laundry and cleaning the bathroom.
As we move farther north we have shorter nights and it is messing with my sleep! I find it hard to go to bed when it is daylight outside but it does not get completely dark until after midnight. Then I wake up at 3:30am because it is light outside and I am ready to get up and get going.
Another day of amazing scenery. Today we drove by Muncho Lake and it was big and impressive. It is a blue/green color because of the copper in the water.
Today we saw wildlife everywhere! Bison in groups along the sides of the road, sheep licking the salt from the road, bears munching on the new grass by the road – it was great! Most of the bison looked pretty rough because they are shedding their winter coats but they still looked powerful and the babies were so cute.
whole herd of bison
Dad of the group
What rules of the road?
not sure what the road has on it that tastes so good
We also crossed into the Yukon today, one step closer to Alaska! The town is like many of the others we’ve been through, recovering from hard winters where 15′ of snow will fall in one year. But friendly people and they are curious about where we are going.
Lastly, we would like to thank all of the animals who came to the side of the road so that we could take their picture.
Cyndy and Cliff
May 25, 2014
We have been impressed with this highway! It is stunning with something new to look at around every corner. The road surface has been good, better than we expected. It is asphalt with a chip rock surface and many obvious places of repair. We have learned to watch for the little flags on the side of the road, they really do mean slow down for rough road ahead. We don’t see much traffic because we are ahead of the crowd and that makes it nice in the RV parks as we don’t need to make reservations ahead of time. There seem to be quite a few rest stop areas and we like to make lots of rest stops so it works out perfectly!
A rest stop!
The landscape is so green and we are enjoying the rivers and bridges.
Heading North on The Alaskan Highway
A detour to see this original bridge on the Old Alaskan Highway
Look at those wooden boards on the bridge
Today we saw wildlife! Bears right next to the road, hawks, a coyote, a fox and deer. We were a bit stunned but managed to get the camera out in time to snap a few pictures of the bears. We are such tourists!
Nice looking Bear!
Do you think he wants to shake hands?
We are staying at the Toad River RV Park and their claim to fame is that they have a hat collection with over 7000 hats. Cliff did not see the hats in the office so we will check it out tomorrow. We are making our way to Watson Lake in the Yukon but we may take an extra day to look around this area before we start driving again.
Cyndy and Cliff
May 24, 2014
It’s our first anniversary and it’s pretty amazing to be celebrating it in Dawson Creek, BC. We are enjoying living full time in the trailer and I am starting to run out of organizing ideas so everything must have landed in the right place!
Married 5-24-13 in Erie CO
We traveled about 5 hours today through some beautiful country.
A lake on a 4,000′ pass was still frozen
We stopped at a rest stop to take some pictures of this river as we continued.
About an hour before reaching Dawson Creek we drove through the town of Chetwynd where they have the Canadian Chainsaw Championships.
Some of the art was “interesting”
We’ve driven 2,300 miles to get to Dawson Creek to start our 1500 mile drive up the Alaskan Highway. The Army Corp of Engineers called this spot “Mile 0” of what was then called the Alcan Highway. The road building was started in 1942 and it took only 8 months to finish, 16 months ahead of schedule. The U.S. feared a Japanese invasion of Alaska and sent 2,000 troops and supplies to get the road done as soon as possible.
Dawson Creek – Mile 0
We have toured the town, paid a bunch of money for fuel, had a great steak dinner for our anniversary and are now hanging out at the local Tim Horton’s (the Canadian version of Starbuck’s) to use the internet. We plan to leave in the morning, heading towards Ft. Nelson.
Cliff and Cyndy
May 22, 2014
We left Clinton about 8am and arrived in Prince George, BC about 2pm. We drove through beautiful valleys, lush and green with crops and ranches everywhere. The mountains do not have the rocky edges of the Colorado mountains but are wooded just like home. The weather is cooler and a bit overcast – nice actually!
The highlight of the trip was meeting two guys at a rest stop who were both driving Harleys. They had started in south Texas and were on their way to meet up with their wives who were flying into Anchorage. After vacationing with their wives they want to continue all the way north to Prudhoe Bay (the northern most point on the Dalton Highway which follows the oil pipeline to the Arctic Ocean). They also don’t know when they will head back to Texas, sometime when they are done traveling. We liked them right away!
On the way to Prince George
Cliff figured out that we have traveled 2007 miles and we have 1700 more miles to our first destination of Anchorage. We have other places to visit in Alaska but I think we will stop in Anchorage for a few weeks.
We knew fuel would cost us more on this trip but I think it is going to cost us more than we imagined! Today we paid $5.75 (we converted to gallons) for fuel and we are not even in Alaska yet! Mumble, mumble, grumble, grumble….
Someone asked how long does it take to get the trailer ready to set-up and tear down when traveling. The short answer, not long. We each have our jobs with Cliff taking on the lion’s share of the work. He can hitch and unhitch the trailer in just a few minutes and I marvel at his expertise. I can hit the switch to run out the slides in less than a minute! Oh, I turn on the pump and the lights so I suppose I do have some important jobs…..
Cyndy and Cliff
May 21, 2014
We spent the day yesterday driving alongside beautiful lakes, admiring the resort communities and the numerous vineyards, wineries and fruit stands. I will wager a guess that there were over 30 places to stop to taste wine, eat great food and shop for fruit or gifts. Many of the small produce stands were not open yet for the summer but we assumed it would be soon.
We stopped at Quail’s Gate Winery to check things out. The first issue when we decide to stop is where do we park “the house?” The place was designed with us in mind and we pulled right into the RV parking spot in the back of the lot. We tasted some wine, bought a couple of bottles, some chutney and some cool plastic wine tumblers.
Quail Gate Winery
We ended up in a huge traffic jam and what should have been a short driving day ended up with us pulling into the White Swan RV Park in Vernon, BC about 4pm. Again, right next to a lake and the grounds are very green and lush.
White Swan RV Park
Today we traveled about three hours on highway 97 through Kamloops, a town with a population of 100,000 (probably the last large town for a long ways) and continued on west to Cache Creek. For this part of our drive, we were on the Trans-Canadian Highway running East and West. The junction at Cache Creek, a town of only a few hundred, is on the Western Access road to the Alaskan Highway and follows a historic supply route called the Caribou Waggon (English spelling) Road.
We are staying overnight in Clinton, BC. It has a wild west theme with a BBQ dinner this evening. Tomorrow we will continue heading north and in a day or two plan to arrive Prince George, a major city which services central British Columbia and a trading area of just over 300,000.
In Vernon this morning we were in an arid climate with lots of lakes and as we traveled along we climbed in elevation and were surrounded by trees and woods. The beetle kill has inflicted it’s damage here as it has in Colorado and the drive reminded us of the area around Pagosa Springs and Durango. The temperature in the wine country was in the 70/80’s and now that we are in more forested area it is in the 60/70’s.
Cyndy and Cliff
When plans change……
It is all about the reset in life. How successful are you at regrouping when plans change? We started the trip a day early to avoid a snowstorm and ended up spending a day in Rawlins WY watching the snow fall. We made a detour to Walla Walla WA on Friday as we left Boise to stop to have someone look at Cliff’s hearing aids. (We thought they were fixed but it seems he is still having problems and we will need to find someone here in British Columbia to help us.) We planned to make the drive from Ephrata to Osoyoos in two days but we ended up driving it in one day and here we are a day early. Regroup and learn to sit back and enjoy! This is a resort area and we have a little tiny view of the lake. We will be out exploring tomorrow and leave on Tuesday.
While in Ephrata, we enjoyed spending time with relatives of Cliff’s. We had dinner with Jeannie and Bob and the next day had a picnic with Jeannie’s 4 adult kids and their spouses. Cliff and his cousins struggled to remember the last time they had all been together and guessed it was in the range of 20 years.
Oasis RV Park, Ephrata
We toured the Grand Coulee Dam today and it is truly an amazing sight. They are quick to let you know that while Hoover Dam is a bit taller, Grand Coulee is a much bigger dam with a lot more concrete. The role of dams in the west has been debated for years but this dam supplies electricity to 11 states and Canada and remains an integral part of the Columbia River System for agriculture, recreation, etc. We found the tour very interesting and heard that the nightly laser light show was great but it does not start until Memorial Day weekend.
Once again, we learn to adjust and roll with it!
Grand Coulee Dam
We lined up with 20 other cars, trucks and RV’s to cross the border. The friendly border patrol on the US side looked into the back of our truck and saw the wood bundles we stored there and sent us back into town to get rid of the wood. It was a bit comical getting us out of the line but Cliff does a great job maneuvering the truck and trailer and we found a building we could drive around back and quietly unload our 2 bundles of firewood. We got back into line and made our way up to the guard house to be grilled by the Canadian Border guard about what kind of guns would Cliff bring with him if he could bring guns into Canada. I thought the whole conversation was silly but I contained my laughter and he waved us through. I felt like a little kid getting away with something! The info we found on their website indicated we would need to dump fruits, vegetables, nuts, wine, etc. and we were not even asked about the food we had.
We will need to take a look at our technology tomorrow as we “need” to stay connected! We have asked around and it seems people go to the local Walmart and purchase an inexpensive phone to use while in Canada. Our US phone carriers get rich when you travel outside the US. We can purchase a Canadian sim card for the iPad and that seems the best way to have a data plan. We will let you know how it all works later this week.
Cyndy and Cliff