Caravan Days 5 and 6

One thing we’ve noticed on our trip so far is the lack of nighttime…it might actually get dark eventually but we’ve never been up late enough or early enough to actually confirm that. Alaska as you probably know is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun…and while I don’t think we’re going to be actually far enough north overnight to verify that…when we go up to Anaktuvik Pass north of the Arctic Circle we are far enough north but won’t be there over night…anyway, sunset today in Teslin is sometime after 2300 and sunrise is before 0300. When we go to bed at 2300 most evenings…it’s not dark at all, in fact it’s barely sunset and evening twilight lasts at least 2 hours due to the shallow angle at which the sun sets. We woke up the other day and moved to our recliners well before 0300 and even then the sky was lightening up and sunrise was clearly on the way. This extra sunset makes us more likely to stay up doing things later than we normally would in latitudes where it actually gets dark…Neil just wandered out to see if he could find the eagle again…it’s 2030 now and still looks like late afternoon, not mid-evening. We kinda like it though.

We continued our trek westward…leaving Big Nugget RV about 0730 again for the 150 mile drive to Teslin YT. Today’s road conditions were pretty good…you could go the speed limit pretty much the whole way which was 100 kph (kilometers per hour, 100 = 62 mph)…after some experimentation Neil discovered that 90-92 kph was s nice speed for BAT and the rig with the resonant frequency of the suspension, the way the roads are built and all. At that speed the road vibration tends to dampen out and the whole rig just seems happier at that speed.

We didn’t have too many planned stops today…we wanted to stop by and see the Rancheria Falls which entailed a 1/3 mile hike from the parking lot. Unfortunately when we got there there was a big crowd of RVs in the somewhat limited parking area so it took us a couple of minutes to figure out where to park…luckily another 5th wheel pulled out so we just went ahead and then backed in where he was parked with a little assistance backing up from Bill…and it was starting to rain a bit. We decided to not let that stop us…and discovered when we got out of BAT that it was cold (46 degrees) so we opened up the house and got both our ScottEVests and our rain gear, changed into our hiking boots and set off. After the short hike which was mostly on a boardwalk and graded path we arrived at the falls area and discovered 2 very nice falls to photograph.

We got some nice shots from viewpoints along the way.

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While hiking down the path and at the falls we got a few nice shots as well.

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On our way today we passed over Porcupine Creek…which for those of you who have watched the TV show Gold Rush…was the first of many places that Todd has failed at being a gold miner. Todd is the strange guy from Washington state with the really weird looking long gray/black beard and the old dad that loves his 400 excavator. Anyways…he’s pretty much failed at mining for gold in both the Yukon, Klondike and South America and for the first couple of years he failed pretty miserably at Porcupine Creek. Connie’s favorite gold miner…Parker Schnabel…mined nearby at the Big Nugget mine that his 90something year old grandfather has been mining for many years. We didn’t know exactly where to look for either mining site…and the roads aren’t big rig friendly anyway…so we settled for just passing over the creek. 

By this time it was starting to rain pretty steadily so we beat feet back to BAT, fired up and hit the road…amazingly enough the completely full parking lot had diminished to just us and one guy riding his bike by the time we got back…the rest of the people got their photo, spent 30 seconds looking at the falls and moved on I guess. With the bad weather we pretty much didn’t stop again until we got to Teslin…where we stopped to get a photo of the Nisutlin Bay Bridge…which is the longest water crossing on the AlCan at 1917 feet long. You can just barely see our RV park at the far end of the bridge on the right side right by Teslin Lake.

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Luckily it stopped raining when we got there and we quickly parked in our assigned site 18, brought on power and unhitched as we needed BAT to go into the museum…the site wasn’t very level so we had to unhitch anyway. Didn’t bother with water or sewer connection…we filled our fresh tank with 50 gallons when we left Northern Lights the other day and have been using that for the past 3 days…we’ll dump and refill tomorrow when we arrive in Whitehorse as we’ll be there 3 days.

During the daily status update meeting for the caravan…Neil noticed this immature bald eagle in a nearby tree and grabbed a few shots…our first eagle of the trip and he is literally in a tree in the middle of the campground.

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Neil did a quick couple of maintenance items…our hitch squeaked the past couple of days so he pumped some grease into it. he also silicone sprayed the our leveling jack shafts and added 2.5 gallons of DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) to BAT’s tank. DEF is a urea based chemical that gets sprayed into the exhaust manifold to reduce emissions to make the California tree hugging crowd happy. Other than having to buy and pour it in…DEF isn’t much of a bother…with the single exception that BAT won’t run without it…no DEF means no run. Normally we fill up at Pilot or Flying J truck stops in the states but the stations up here don’t have DEF on draft as it were…so we just carry 5 gallons with us which lasts about 4,000 miles and whenever we use one of the 2.5 gallon jugs we just buy another one to replace it. We’ll be in Whitehorse over the weekend and it’s a big enough city to have things like Walmart and Canadian Tire (which is sort of like Walmart for Boys…lots of tools and other guy stuff).

Once that was done Bill and Linda joined us for a trip over to the Tlingit Cultural Heritage Center…the Tlingit are the native people of this region. They do lots of totem carvings…here are the ones out in front of the center…they represent the wolf, eagle, frog, beaver, and raven clans of the Tlingit people.

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Inside we sampled Bannock with wild berry preserves. Bannock is essentially a biscuit dough deep fat fried in lard. Mighty tasty albeit a little tough and chewy. We also toured the center and drooled over all the carvings of masks and delicately beaded mittens, mukluks and other native people gear.

Once that was done we headed home for dinner…Neil cooked Jambalaya and we had Bill and Linda over…Linda and Neil have been alternating cooking duties on the days we don’t eat out since cooking for 4 is no harder than cooking for 2 and that way each of us only has to cook on alternate days.

Saturday we slept in as we only had 105 miles to go to our next stop in Whitehorse YT where we’ll stay until Tuesday AM. We also needed to stop back by the Tlingit Cultural Center to get our Yukon Passports stamped and they didn’t open until 0900. So…after coffee and some cottage cheese and strawberries for breakfast we headed off. About 45 miles up the road we stopped by another famous cinnamon bun place…but we’re sort of cinnamon bunned out so we just got a blueberry scone and split instead. We had a nice easy drive with just a few easy stops for pictures on the way before arriving at the Pioneer RV Park just south of Whitehorse where we’re parked in site 42…parking here is pretty tight with alternate sites having the rigs reversed because of the way the utility pedestals are installed. We unhitched and got setup for our 2 day stay then had some lunch.  A few photos from the trip.

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After lunch we headed off for our first scheduled activity in Whitehorse…a guided 3 mile hike along the Yukon River through Miles Canyon and Canyon Village. It’s about a 3 mile drive from the park and on the way we stopped for our first view of the Yukon River…this is the second longest river in North America after the Mississippi at 1,920 miles in length. Starting in glacier fed Lake Atlin a bit southeast of here…the Yukon drains most of northern YT and the southern half of the Northwest Territories as it transits north before flowing into Alaska…where it changes direction to roughly southwest until emptying into the Bering Sea in western Alaska. Several interesting facts about the Yukon are that despite being almost 2000 miles long it has exactly 4 vehicle carrying bridges over it…one near Marsh Lake on the AlCan, one in Whitehorse YT, one in Carmacks on the Klondike Highway and one north of Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway up to Deadhorse AK. There is a ferry at Dawson City YT that is replaced by an ice bridge in winter and 2 pedestrian only bridges in Whitehorse…one of which you can see in the first shot of the river below. There is one hydroelectric dam near downtown Whitehorse. Other than those 8 human constructions the river is completely unimpeded. Here’s a shot taken at the overlook looking over Miles Canyon, one of the two pedestrian only bridges is visible. By the time we get back we’ll have crossed 3 of the 4 vehicle capable bridges on the river as well as the ferry up at Dawson City…and if we decide to head over to the other side of Whitehorse we’ll have crossed all 4 of the bridges.

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The Miles Canyon and Canyon City served a vital role during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s. There were originally two sets of rapids near here on the river…one at Miles Canyon which is the narrow gorge below the pedestrian village above and the second one near downtown Whitehorse about 8 miles downstream…the shot above is looking upstream and Whitehorse is to the left and behind the overlook we were standing on. People heading to Dawson City to strike it rich in the gold fields came downstream on the Yukon then their boats could not make the passage through these two sets of rapids. The local commander of the Northwest Territory Mounted Police…which became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Mounties later on…decreed that because of the danger in the rapids you had to hire a professional boatman to guide your craft through. Alternatively you could offload at Canyon City which is on the left bank of the river in the photo above just around the bend you can see so it’s behind the trees on the bluff in the center. From there…there was a horse drawn tram that carried your cargo and boat around both sets of rapids. Once south of Whitehorse you put the boat back in the water, loaded it up, and continued on downstream to Dawson City.

Here are a couple more shots of the Yukon.

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In the evening we went over to the Frantic Follies…which is a vaudeville type show held at the hotel in town. A pretty funny show with some audience participation and a group of pretty talented performers. Here are a few shots Neil got during the show. The first shot is the one with audience participation…this guy was a member of the audience that got dragged up on stage.

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This was advertised as being the Elizabethtown PA Sympathy Orchestra playing Pachabel’s Canon in D…being played on crosscut saws…and it was actually recognizable as being the correct tune.

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Explaining Cabin Fever…which happens a lot in Yukon during the winter.

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When the show was over we came home…still daylight despite being almost 2300 at night. Tomorrow we’re off for some more Fun Stuff™ in Whitehorse after Mass in the morning.


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Caravan Days 3 and 4

We’ve had a pretty good couple of days. Wednesday morning we left Triple G Campground in Fort Nelson about 0730 for the 185 mile transit up to Liard Hot Springs where we stayed at the Liard Hot Springs Lodge RV Park. The trip is supposed to have some of the best scenery we’ll see as well as numerous animal sightings…but we’ll get to that later.

Our first stop heading north was at Indian Head Mountain…this is a rock formation up on the side of a mountain very similar to the one in New Hampshire known as The Old Man of the Sea…sort of a profile of rocks. This one looks supposedly like an Indian profile…we thought you needed a pretty good imagination to see it.

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Next up we hit an area with no road…reminding us of that line in Back To The Future Part 2 where Doc Brown says “Roads…where we’re going we don’t need no steenking roads.”

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And a beaver dam and lodge on a branch of one of the many rivers we crossed.

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Here’s a shot of Summit Lake…which is (naturally) located at the top of Summit Pass…which is the highest elevation reached on the AlCan…4,250 feet. That’s Mount Saint George behind the lake on the left side. The water here is amazingly clear…it looks like bathtub water and you can easily see the bottom 15 or 20 feet from the shore at a depth of 6 feet or so. Really nice view…along with a very nice campground that we could stay in if we wanted to…no utilities but with our generator and solar panels it would be no problem…right on the lake and the sites are big enough for us to fit pretty easily. If we ever come back up this way we’ll keep it in mind…but it would definitely have what our friends Howard and Linda call the “it factor”.

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Next up we stopped by the hoodoo’s and took a short hike about 1.2 miles overall to see them…325 feet high although I’m not sure how they measured that as the pinnacle structure of the didn’t look that high but maybe it’s measured from the bottom of the slope or something.

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A nice pano shot of the area behind our second cinnamon roll purchase of the day…more on that later as well…and a shot of the Toad River right before we got to the second cinnamon roll stop.

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A shot of Muncho Lake…a 20 mile long lake pretty close to Liard Hot Springs…again, amazingly clear water.

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Now…about that wildlife we were supposed to see today…eh, not so much. We did spot a mother moose and calf while we were having a sandwich but she they ran back into the woods before we could get a shot. We also passed through Stone Mountain Provincial Park…which is the home of the Stone Sheep. This is a brownish sub species of the white Dall Sheep found further north in the Yukon and is very similar in appearance to the Bighorn Sheep we have in the US Rockies. We did spot one of these but they blend into the grass really well and even though it was within 5 yards of the road we didn’t’ see it until we were within 30 yards or so…luckily it jumped away from the road when we startled it and not out in front of us. We (naturally) saw it right as we got to the bottom of a fairly steep but short hill so stopping for a  photo wasn’t really in the cards…although we did see one so we were happy. After that…the only other thing we saw were some Bison…here’s a couple of shots of those for ya’.

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So…on to the Cinnamon Roll Stops. Shortly after we passed through the section of the road with no pavement above we passed what has to be the best…roadside…marketing…sign…ever.

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We figured that any place that claimed to be the center of the Galactic Cluster as far as Cinnamon Buns was concerned we should stop at…so we did. As we were ordering our bun…we decided to have a Bun Off…since there was another place with homemade cinnamon buns farther on at the Toad River Lodge we decided to get one there as well and we’ll sample both of them for breakfast tomorrow…including photos…and post the results later. Stay tuned.

This is the only remaining original suspension bridge on the AlCan…it’s about 1100 feet long and dates from late 1942.

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Finally for today…a couple of shots to show you what our rig looks like after just 2 of 60 days on our Alaskan caravan. The first one is of the front bottom…take a gander at all the mud caked on it. The second one is of the side near where our water supply hooks up…the center little brown area is where Neil cleaned it a bit to highlight the dirt level. By the time we get back we’ll be really dirty I guess…and we’ll need plenty of washing to get ourselves clean again.

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I’ll have to take one of BAT for ya as well tomorrow.

After our arrival at the campground…we got setup in site 7 then changed clothes and walked over to the Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park where they have…amazingly enough…hot springs. All of our group entered at the warm end of the cooler pool and just soaked in the warm mineral waters until we started to look like prunes. We did briefly dunk ourselves in the cool end of the warmer pool and it was quite toasty…with only a few of us actually being able to go put the rock on the ledge at the hot end of the hot pool. You coulda boiled an egg in there I’m tellin’ ya’. 

Ok, on to Day 4. Early morning while Neil was doing outside stuff he got a couple shots of the dirt on BAT…you can see the original color a little bit around the edges in some places but we’re mostly just dirt colored.

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After that…Neil went across to Wayne and Debbie’s rig…they’re the tail gunners for our group and one of their duties is to have coffee ready on all travel days at 0630…so he went across and brought two cups back to go along with the Bun Off.

Here are the contenders. In this corner we have the bun from the Cinnamon Bun Center of the Galactic Cluster (actually it was named the Tetsa Lodge) nestled inside it’s styrofoam takeout container. 

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And here’s the challenger from the Toad River Lodge.

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As you can see…both of these are huge…so we split them in half and saved the remaining two halves for tomorrow. We then nuked each half and split them into halves again and gave us each a piece of both. After some chowing down…we came to a conclusion…and the winner is…they’re both outstanding. They are different so it’s really more a matter of what your particular choice in buns is…the Center of the Galactic Cluster one has sweeter gooey stuff, is more gooey and a milder cinnamon taste while the Toad River Lodge one is less sweet but has more cinnamon flavor and the bread part has a little better flavor. You really can’t go wrong with either of them though…so we’re going to give it by a nose to the Galactic Cluster based on their better marketing.

Right before we pulled out of the campground…Neil got this shot right next to the shower facility you can see in the background…this specimen is about 15 feet from the showers and maybe 30 feet from the back of the campground office.

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We headed out about 0730 and spotted our first wildlife…a yearling black bear…on the side of the road not 300 yards after pulling out of the campground back onto the AlCan. There wasn’t any place to stop there for a photo and (at least as far as bears were concerned)…this was to be the routine of the day. We spotted 4 bears altogether and 3 of them were in a place where we could have gotten off the road for a photo…but all 3 were running at the time towards the woods as something had startled them before we saw them. The fourth one…which was actually the first one ya see…was posing for an excellent photo opportunity but there was no place to stop. 

Other sightings for the day included a fox that again we got no photo of and several groups of bison along the way.

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A nice shot of a set of rapids on the Liard River…Liard is actually the French word for Poplar and the river and nearby hot springs were named for the large stands of Poplar trees that bordered them.

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And a shot of the Liard River a little farther upstream…here are two different HDR interpretations of the same set of RAW images…the first was done with Lightroom’s somewhat limited HDR rendering and the second with the more capable Photomatix Pro.

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Ya’ really  can’t go wrong with either of these…although Neil thinks that Photomatix does a better job since you can modify how the tone mapping is done with some sliders within the application and the Lightroom version has no options other than the single rendering that it decides on.

We crossed the border into the Yukon Territory shortly after the Liard River shots were taken…here’s the obligatory “we were here and got the photo’s to prove it” shots. I guess that makes us Yukon Men like that show on TV.

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We pulled into Baby Nugget RV just west of Watson Lake YT about 1130 and quickly got set up in site 48. Not much to see or do here around the campground though…so we just lazed around the afternoon until it was time for our planned activity (that’s code for included in the tour price) of the day…a trip to the Signpost Village.

Signpost Village was started back in 1942 by a guy who put up a license plate from where he grew up. Over the years about 80,000 signs have been posted…everything from license plates to pie tins with inscriptions in Sharpie marker to carved wooden signs. All of them were put up by people traveling the AlCan…so naturally our host David had prepared a special sign commemorating the 2015 60 day RV Adventure Treks caravan.

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Afterwards we watched the movie about Yukon and AlCan history…then went to the Upper Liard Lodge with Bill and Linda for dinner…we all had various types of schnitzel…and all were really good. Neil also got a shot of our site here at Baby Nugget RV.

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With that…we gave up and headed home…after watching Deadliest Catch with Bill and Linda we came home for TV and bedtime. We’re off again at 0730 tomorrow morning for our transit to Teslin Lake YT then again to Whitehorse YT on Saturday…then we get a couple days with no travel…good thing as we need a day off.


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Caravan Days 1 and 2

OK…here’s the deal. I’m gonna label the posts on the caravan with day numbers…you’ll have to refer to the list and map below to figure out where we are on a post by post basis as you follow our trip. First…here’s the day to location correlation, for simplicity I’ve listed it by arrival date in each location; i.e., 2 is the day we arrive in Fort Nelson. Posts will be prepared probably in 1 to 3 days per post depending on photo density and I’ll post them in order when we have internet connectivity. Ya might wanna bookmark this post if you’re following along at home to make things simpler for ya.

  • 1 Dawson Creek BC (British Columbia)
  • 2 Fort Nelson BC
  • 3 Liard Hot Springs BC
  • 4 Watson Lake YT (that’s Yukon Territory officially or the Yukon depending on my mood of the day)
  • 5 Teslin YT
  • 6 Whitehorse YT
  • 9 Haines AK
  • 12 Destruction Bay YT
  • 13 Beaver Creek YT
  • 14 Tok AK (Alaska)
  • 15 North Pole AK (Fairbanks)
  • 21 Denali AK
  • 24 Talkeetna AK
  • 25 Anchorage AK
  • 29 Homer AK
  • 32 Seward AK
  • 36 Palmer AK
  • 38 Glennallen AK
  • 39 Valdez AK
  • 43 Tok AK
  • 44 Chicken AK
  • 45 Dawson City YT
  • 49 Stewart Crossing YT
  • 50 Whitehorse YT
  • 53 Teslin YT
  • 54 Watson Lake YT
  • 55 Iskut BC
  • 56 Hyder AK
  • 59 Smithers BC
  • 60 Prince George BC

And here’s the map that goes along with the days above so you can visualize where we are at on any given day.


OK, here goes nuttin’…Days 1 and 2.

Day 1 had just a couple of activities in the evening. We had our initial rendezvous at Northern Lights RV with a presentation by the Dawson Creek Visitor’s Bureau…unfortunately this was at the end of our stay in Dawson Creek so most of what she told us was too late as we were leaving early the next morning. From there we headed over to the George Dawson Inn where we had a meeting led by our ringleader/wagon master David Baxley where we met the staff and each other, went over some basic ‘how does the caravan work’ stuff, and a pretty decent buffet dinner. Afterwards we trekked over to the Mile 0 marker again so we could get a group picture…as soon as Neil gets it from Dave I’ll post it so you can see our motley group. Here’s David giving us the scoop on the caravan before dinner. He was telling us how he wanted us to have an adventure…but a safe adventure. People were already complaining about the roads and dirty RVs today…Bill and Neil told them “ya ain’t seen rough or dirty yet’. One lady asked Bill yesterday at Northern Lights when we would get to the nice RV parks and was not happy when he replied…’you’re there already.’

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After the picture we went home and rested then got up really early Tuesday and hitched/left. We had 283 miles to go and had a scheduled caravan activity starting at 1530…so doing the math meant that you needed to be on the road by 0700…we hated it but we did it anyway.

First stop after leaving was the Suicide Hill Memorial…this is in memory of a hill on the original road that had a 24 percent downgrade as you headed north out of Dawson Creek…as you came up to the top of the hill you saw the sign that said Suicide Hill—Prepare to Meet Thy Maker. Normally a road would never be built with a slope this steep…but since the entire 1500 mile length of the highway was built in 8 months during early 1942 to support WWII operations convenience and good road surface were secondary considerations…the primary consideration was getting some sort of road through the wilderness that trucks could either drive or be towed up by tractors. Road surface ranged from mud to gravel to corduroy roads made of logs and since there was no survey previously done on the terrain the road was planned by sending somebody up a tree and he would look and say ‘let’s go that way’…getting some track through the wilderness was the only consideration. Once it was opened the road was somewhat reconstructed with things like safety and ability to get up and down the hills in mind in 1943…and the road was opened to civilian traffic in 1948 but wasn’t fully paved into well into the 1970s.

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About 1000 we had our first wildlife sighting…a porcupine. I would not have posted this picture at all since it’s lousy…but felt we should make sure our first sighting was included in the blog. Connie got this shot quickly through the BAT’s windshield.

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We did see a sub-adult black bear later in the day but there wasn’t any place to pull over and traffic behind us…so no picture…sorry. Here’s a shot of the AlCan itself looking northward as well as Mount Yakatchie.

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We pulled into Triple G Campground in Fort Nelson about 1430 and got quickly set up in site 91…no need to unhitch as we filled up with diesel on the way through town. Speaking of diesel…we paid 1.18 per liter today…this converts to about 3.68 a gallon in US currency and measurement. Our last fuel in ND on the way north was only about 2.79 or so…and by the time we get up in Alaska we’ll probably be paying 6 to 7 bucks a gallon. Expensive I guess…but it’s just part of the adventure.

With setup down we wandered over to the Fort Nelson museum that is owned by Marl Brown…who turned out to be quite a character. Here’s a crankshaft and pistols (the thing laying underneath the car shed sign and on the pallet to the right of the sign)…these parts are from a 3000 KW 16 cylinder diesel engine…the pistons are about 15 inches in diameter and 30 or so tall…pretty decently sized hardware, eh?

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This bumper sticker is on the side of Marl’s 1920something Ford Model A pickup truck.

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And here’s Marl Brown himself…he’s 82 years old and still turns wrenches rebuilding his antique cars. The one he’s standing in front of is a 1908 Buick Model 19 which he restored himself. Marl’s lived in Fort Nelson since 1957…a lady on the tour asked him if he lived here all his life and his reply was “well, all of it so far but I hope I’ve got some time left.” The Buick was driven as recently as last fall (it’s got a broken fan belt and finding parts for a 107 year old car is darned hard Marl said) and was driven round trip to Whitehorse YT and back in 2008 as part of the celebration of the car’s 100th birthday.

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Afterwards Marl got on his bike and rode it around…notice how both wheels turn when you turn the handlebars to steer.

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Next he started up his 1920something Model A pickup (the one with the bumper sticker above)…it’s not quite stock as he added an electrical starter when he rebuilt it…too hard at 70something years old to hand crank it he said.

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Last stop for the day was a shot of the Stone Sheep sculpture outside the museum…it was done by a local artist and is very nice. Stone Sheep are very similar to the Bighorn sheep down in Banff/ Jasper and in the US.

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Neil and Connie passed on the optional buffet dinner at the campground…they decided it wasn’t worth 40 bucks and wanted to just laze around today…we’ve been going pretty steadily every day since we met up with Bill and Linda a week and a half ago. So…they split a can of chili with cheese and crackers that really hit the spot.

Tomorrow we’re off on Day 3 to Liard Hot Springs…the 183 mile trip has been noted by several folks as being among the nicest scenery of the trip and the highest animal density…we hope to see plenty. After our arrival we’ll get parked and then head on over to the hot springs themselves for a soak before dinner.

Cyas…and Happy Canadia Day tomorrow, eh.

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Final Days in Dawson Creek

Well…we haven’t done much the past couple of days. Did a few minor touristy things around Dawson Creek, ate dinner with Bill and Linda every day, wandered around meeting the rest of our caravan folks as they rolled in, a few minor chores on our rigs…Bill and Neil fixed the bathroom fan raising mechanism on his rig, cleaned off our solar panels, and re-stowed some breakable and items we won’t be using for the next couple of months…and that was about it.

We did get down to downtown Dawson Creek and saw the (fake!) Mile 0 marker…the one I posted the other day is the real one actually on the AlCan but the city built another ‘Mile 0’ marker in the middle of downtown in hopes of getting more people to come downtown and see things. I guess it worked a little…here’s the downtown version of the marker and also some first nation people (the term used by those residents of west and northwest North America that are descended from humans here before the Europeans showed up) in a prayer ceremony. 

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That’s about it…Dawson Creek is pretty small and once you’ve seen the marker and the bridge you’ve pretty much done it all. There is a pioneer fort tourist attraction place downtown as well…but we generally don’t do that sort of thing much so we passed.

Weather has been warm to hot…nice in the shade of the rig but hot on the roof or out in the sun and we’ve been running the A/C the past couple of days…only 1 at a time as we’re on 30 amp power though and we have to turn it off when we want to run the microwave or Breville oven or coffee maker. We are also somewhat limited in TV reception over the satellite antenna…the DirectTV birds are over the equator so they’re pretty low on the horizon here…Bill and Neil are continually grousing about having to rough it with only standard definition TV as some of the HD channels don’t have enough signal strength to lock on despite the antenna being able (barely) to see the bird itself. Ah…the hazards of roughing it I guess…luckily for us Connie recorded a bunch of movies and shows the last 2 months and we’ve got 100 hours or so of things to watch when we don’t have satellite visibility…which will be as soon as we get north of Whitehorse a week from tomorrow. At least we have cold brewskis and brownies Linda keeps making for dessert. Linda and Neil have been alternating cooking dinners…it’s no more trouble to cook for 4 than for 2 and that way only one of us has to cook each night. 

We have our initial meeting with the group tonight in the building here at Northern Lights RV…then we’re off to dinner in town for a welcome celebration…then tomorrow we ride. First day is 283 miles straight up the AlCan to Fort Nelson then 3 shorter days to Whitehorse YK for our first more than over night stop. We’ve carefully plotted out where to get fuel as gas stations aren’t every mile like they are on our side of the border…Whitehorse has 30,000 people or so and is a decent sized town but the 4 stops on the way are pretty much the only places to get any. Up here…half a tank means make sure you know where your next fueling stop is. We have about 750 miles range with our aux tank so we’ll be fine…but if we were limited to the 37.5 gallons that the standard OEM tank has things would be a lot tougher.


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Dawson Creek Stuff

Today we got settled into our sites 46 and 47 with Bill and Linda…then Bill and Neil did some work on BAT’s CB radio and associated wiring and got Bill’s truck an oil change. Meanwhile…Connie did some work and Linda researched things to do. Once all of that was done…we had lunch then went off on a little Fun Stuff™in the Dawson Creek area. After that we came home and had dinner…Linda grilled some burgers, Neil provided some skewered mushrooms and onions that she grilled as well and Neil also made some scalloped potatoes. All went down really well…then we drove over to DQ and got a Blizzard to tide us over until breakfast.

We noticed yesterday that the CB radio in BAT that we use to communicate on the road was having a problem with the squelch not working correctly which results in lots of static noise out of the speaker…which results in turning the volume way down…which results in not hearing the other person trying to talk to you. So…after some discussion yesterday about the potential causes of this problem Bill and Neil dropped Bill’s truck off at the Chevy place for an oil change and headed off to find a CB radio interference filter. Essentially we thought the problem was noise on the 12v power line, probably caused by the inverter in the rig and that adding a filter to get rid of the noise on the power line would solve the problem. After we got home from the oil change we commenced troubleshooting and after an hour or so concluded that the radio frequency interference was indeed coming from the inverter but was coming in via the air and antenna and not over the power line. To solve this…well, the only real solution would be to turn the inverter off while traveling but that means the fridge won’t run. While this would be OK for short travel periods it isn’t something we want to do unless we have to. Our fall back position was to move the radio farther forward in BAT’s cabin to increase the distance from the inverter and use a higher channel number that has less interference. We did what we could…and will test again on our travel day on Tuesday. At worst we’ll just turn the inverter off while traveling and let the fridge just sit. As long as the door is shut this won’t pose any problem at all for us…but it’s just another thing we don’t want to have to worry about on travel days so we’ll see if the half measures we tried help before deciding to go that route or not.

That was pretty much it for the morning…so after lunch we headed off to see a couple of sites.

First stop was the Mile 0 marker on the Alaska Highway…also known as the AlCan. It was the first road to Alaska; built from Dawson Creek to the Alaska border and beyond in 1942. Very little of the original road remains today…it was initially constructed very quickly to support WWII operations then reconstructed afterwards to be a more user friendly road. Over the years it’s been improved and today is actually a pretty decent road. Here are shots of the Mile 0 markers and of both Neil and Connie and Bill and Linda who are traveling with us. The AlCan itself is visible just beyond the overhead sign and has different road numbers as it goes north…here in BC it’s BC-97, becoming YT-1 when it crosses into the Yukon Territory, then AK-2 when it crosses into Alaska.

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For those keeping up at home with your National Geographic or Google Maps…we proceed essentially north from Dawson City with a stop in Fort Nelson BC. After that we’re mostly west-northwest through the Yukon with stops in Watson Lake, Teslin, and Whitehorse, then continuing briefly into Alaska at Haines, back into the Yukon via Destruction Bay and Beaver Creek then cross into Alaska to Tok. From there we go northwest to Fairbanks, south via  Denali to Anchorage then continue around the coastal areas of Alaska with stops in Homer, Seward, Palmer, Valdez and Glenallen then back northward to Tok again. From Tok we go to Chicken Alaska then back into the Yukon to Dawson City. From Dawson City we go back south to Whitehorse then sort of retrace our steps southward with a side jaunt to Iskut BC and Hyder AK to our stopping point in Prince George. Here’s an overall view of our trip…for rough distance purposes it’s about 5,000 miles total from Dawson Creek to Prince George and about 360 miles from Fairbanks to Anchorage. On our 60 day trip we travel 29 days.

Once the caravan is over in Prince George we’ll head to Jasper AB which is about halfway between Prince George and Edmonton for a 5 day stop to see the Tour of Alberta bike race…then south down the Icefields Parkway to Banf and then eastward through Calgary and reenter the US near St Mary’s MT for a visit to Glacier National Park. Eastward to Devils Tower in the northeast corner of WY for a few days…then over to Indianapolis and then Midlothian for more grand baby and the World Championship Bike Races before heading generally southward (as it will be late  September by then and starting to get too cool for Neil anyway) via TN and AL to our winter home in Fort Myers. Neil will also be keeping up our travel map as we proceed…you can find it at or via the Our Travel Maps link at the top of the page.

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Our second stop for the day was the Kiskatinaw River Curved Bridge…this is an original but still used bridge from the construction of the AlCan back in 1942…it’s an entirely wooden structure. It’s a popular photo spot and you may have seen pictures of it before. The river is a good distance below the bridge as you can see from the accompanying picture of the river gorge…about 100 feet. It’s 534 feet long and curves 9 degrees over it’s length, is the only original bridge still in use, and contains about 500,000 board feet of lumber. We could drive the rig across it as it’s still approved for up to 20 ton loads but as the piece of the AlCan that crosses it doesn’t go anywhere anymore…we decided to just drive over and see it instead.

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Looking upstream from the middle of the bridge, or to the right in the picture above.

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With that we headed home…for the aforementioned burgers and Blizzards.

Several other of our caravan friends arrived today and our fearless leader David Baxley and his bride arrive tomorrow…with the rest of the group coming in sometime before Monday evening. We’re getting pretty pumped up for our trip…looking forward to meeting all of our new friends over the weekend and Monday and starting to do Fun Stuff™ a lot as we travel. Neil wants lots of wildlife…Connie wants lots of wildlife but no bears. We’ll see who gets their wish.


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Dawson Creek BC, Sexsmith and Connie Shows Off Her Beaver

Well…we continued our trek northwestward and arrived in Dawson Creek BC for the beginning of our Alaska Caravan…so I figured I should catch ya’ll up on what we did. After my last post on Tuesday we got up Wednesday morning and did laundry, went to the grocery, and had dinner with our friends Bill and Linda. With an early departure time on Thursday…we were leaving at 0800 since we had 340 miles to go to Dawson Creek BC…we hit the sack early and after getting up at 0530 we were ready to go and pulled out with Bill and Linda right about 0803.

We made good time west and then north and pulled into Dawson Creek BC right about 1600. We’ll be here through Monday night…the caravan first meet-up is Monday evening and we hit the road Tuesday morning. We have several overnight stops heading basically due north until our first extended (3 nights) stop at Whitehorse on Saturday. We’re in site 46 in Northern Lights RV Park on the west side of Dawson Creek…here’s a shot of our house and a suspiciously same paint job rig next door that belongs to Bill and Linda.

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Before we left Glowing Embers RV Park in Acheson AB…Neil did get a few decent shots of the Magpies that are very common up here in the northwest.

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On the way up we passed a great little town in BC…

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And here’s the sign at the city limits of Dawson Creek.

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The only touristy thing we did today was stop by the Visitor Center at Beaver Lodge, BC…and Connie showed us all her beaver. Honest…I mean it…and I even got a picture of it to prove that it.

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We were gonna grill burgers with Bill and Linda on our arrival…but upon further review as the replay official would say the call was overturned and we went out to a sushi place in town instead. New Tokyo Sushi…pretty great food and great times as well.

Tomorrow Neil and Bill are headed off to get the oil in Bill’s truck changed and see if we can find a low pass filter to make Neil’s CB work better without all the static we were getting today. Then we’ll do whatever there is to do in Dawson Creek over the weekend and Monday morning…followed by the meet-up in the evening for the start of our 60 day Alaskan Adventure…we are all really looking forward to this.


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Continuing Northwest

Not much to report…but I did want to let ya’ll know that we wuz still alive albeit mostly just traveling toward Dawson Creek for the start of the Alaskan Adventure.

As I Indicated in my last post…our friends Bill and Linda Napier arrived on schedule in Langham SK Saturday afternoon. Neil grilled some chicken for dinner, Linda made brownies and brought over a bottle of Merlot and a jolly evening was had by all.

Sunday we attempted to attend Mass in Langham…we even verified the location and time of the service by driving by the church earlier in the week…but alas, on Sunday morning we got there and there was no Mass this week. So…we went back to the rig and were on the road in convoy with Bill and Linda right about 1000 or so for a 170 mile transit over to Lloydminster AB right on the AB/Sk border. Neil made some vodka cream sauce with Italian sausage and linguini for dinner along with another bottle of Merlot then we all just rested until bedtime.

Monday morning we were off again about 0900 or so for the last 170 miles to Acheson AB on the west side of Edmonton. On our arrival we met up with David Baxley and his wife Bettie…Dave is the wagon master for the caravan to Alaska this year and will be again for our Canadian Maritimes trip next summer. Linda grilled some steaks and made a Caesar salad for dinner and Neil contributed some oven roasted rosemary potatoes…it was a nice evening so we just ate outside.

Today Neil and Connie installed our new pressure sensors on all 12 wheels and also inflated a couple tires that were a bit low…this entailed an unscheduled removal of the rear left outer dualley wheel to get the old sensor off the valve stem. Once that was done we headed off for some errands…haircut for Neil, fuel for BAT, nails for Connie and a stop at Walmart for a few last minute groceries. Then we came home until it was time for dinner…we were headed out with Bill, Linda, David and Bettie…our initial idea was what was billed as a Japanese steakhouse (one of those teppen-yaki restaurants) but it turned out to be a take out establishment so we ended up at the Canadian Brew House where we had some great brews, great food, and great conversation with friends…Bill was especially interested in getting some more info on next year’s Maritimes trip as they’ve never been up that way.

Tomorrow is laundry day and we need to do a little rearranging of wires, equipment, and various electronic devices in BAT’s cockpit…we’ll do who knows what for dinner and then Thursday morning we’re headed out early for the 330 mile trip up to Dawson Creek where we’ll spend the weekend at Northern Lights RV. Then Monday evening we have the initial get together for the caravan and Tuesday we head north.

Sorry…no pictures to show you this time…we’ve been doing more life stuff than Fun Stuff™ but that will change soon.

As a famous man (David) says about the trip to Alaska…”Someday begins tomorrow.”


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