1,500 km's up the Alaska Highway and...

Trip Start Jun 17, 2008
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , Yukon,
Thursday, July 17, 2008

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...and still not in Alaska. 

It may seem strange to some but the "Mile 0" post of the Alaska Highway is in Dawson Creek, B.C, a full 2,000 kilometres before you reach the Alaskan border. ...incidentally this "Mile 0" post resides in front of the Alaska Hotel in Dawson Creek, B.C.  Perhaps geography is not a strong suit of the friendly folk that live up this way.  Regardless, we have been thoroughly enjoying meandering up the highway (if in fact you can use the word "meandering" when driving a tank...perhaps "lumbering along the highway" would be a better phrase), and we now find ourselves in Whitehorse, Yukon.  
Whitehorse was a great place to celebrate Laura's 9th birthday...in fact it was her suggestion to stay here an extra day so that we could go "downtown" to watch a movie and go to a grocery store big enough to actually stock birthday cakes.  Yes, things are a bit sparse in this neck of the woods, although Tracy and I both agree that Whitehorse is a very nice city (and it is big enough to support a Wal-Mart, a Canadian Tire and 2 Starbucks).  The only drawback is that cell phone coverage disappeared three days ago and has yet to reappear. 
We expect to cross into Alaska tomorrow, but who knows...our departure times have been a little inconsistent (who would have thought that an 11am checkout time would be difficult to meet?) and there are lots of little diversions along the route.

Some observations of the first 1,500 kilometers of the Alaska highway:

  Traffic congestion is not a problem...in my research for the trip I had read a quote about "joining the caravan of RV's working their way to Alaska".  I may not be the sharpest brick in the tool box but I incorrectly took this to mean that there would be some steady traffic...we have pretty much had the roads to ourselves.  Yes, if you stop, someone will come by every few minutes or so but for the most part it is just you, nature and a steady chorus of "it's not fair to be home schooled in the summer!" coming from the back regions of the RV;  
  The wildlife here are nice enough to come to the highway...in the last week or so we have seen (without trying) multiple black bears, a grizzly bear, a few herds of buffalo, some moose, elk, and a whole bunch of mangy mountain sheep/goat things.  I have decided that seeing a bear in the wild eating berries is infinitely more interesting than seeing a bear at a landfill site pawing through someone's moldy cheese;
  Supply and demand economics are alive and well along this route.  When I suggested to the nice gas station attendant that $1.53/litre was a bit too much to pay for gas, she just pointed to the sign that said "Next Gas Station: 167 kilometres"...nicely said!;
  Liard Hot Springs...maybe because it was our first hot springs but we all were very impressed...a very comfortable natural hot tub.  108 degrees at one end and 129 degrees at the far end;
  We discovered that Tracy can also drive the RV, but given the poor quality of the photograph I took, and given that in the picture she is clearly not keeping her eyes on the road, we decided to swap back to our more natural "jobs".
  When we pulled off the road it was not such a smart thing for me to say, "Kids, go play on that mountain while we make lunch".  My joy at firing up the RV's generator for the microwave was short-lived when I saw Laura's shoe, followed by Laura, sliding down this suddenly very steep loose shale hill.  Fortunately (?) this caused Sarah to freeze in fear near the top and scream...one rescue, and one bonus dessert later and all was well (and did I mention how much fun it is to fire up the generator and make power in the middle of nowhere!!);
  Tracy can make some equally questionable comments.  I'm not even sure what she was talking about when she said "I'm not the same girl you married 14 years ago"...oh, let me count the ways! (I said ever so quietly to myself);
  Parts of Northern British Columbia and the Yukon that we have driven through continue to be ruggedly scenic...very enjoyable;
  We saw our first (and likely our only) Signpost Forest...more than 70,000 street and city signs, family signs, and license plates all nailed to hundreds of poles.  I can't explain why we enjoyed it so much but we did, and it was a fun place for an impromptu family game of freeze tag.  Our return route will take us near this forest again so an "Elop's of Waterloo World Tour 2008" sign may be added (assuming the soldering tool I have with me can double as a wood burning tool...yes, even in the middle of nowhere you can have fun with tools); 
  We saw the world's Biggest Beaver a few days back, and after previously seeing the Big Nickel, the Big Goose, the Big Lumberjack, and the Biggest Fake Dinosaur Tourist Trap, I can now say that my life is complete.

Aside from the Alaska Highway itself, much of our time has been spent mulling over some previously unthought-of issues.  In no particular order:

  Should we be worried that our children could happily amuse themselves for a full 2 hours in a Laundromat in Jasper, Alberta?
  Does cruising the RV slowly down a residential section of Jasper looking for an unsecured wireless network (instead of playing in a Laundromat with my children) make me a bad person?  And, is borrowing someone's wireless network, unbeknownst to them, illegal, or just fiscally responsible on my part?
  Can you really call yourself an RV Park when you have little more than a big open gravel patch with extension cords running out of your shed?  At least if we had stayed overnight at the Wal-Mart parking lot we would have had access to some cheap beef jerky.  Incidentally, we were able to answer this question...to qualify as a true RV park you must be at least 30 kilometers away from the nearest town, at least 3 kilometers off of the highway and still insist on having "bathrooms" that you must use a code to enter in order to pay $2 for a cold shower; 
And now let's end with the educational portion of this blog...in our Canadiana home-schooling we learned that the Northwest Territories once had a vote aimed at renaming the Territory.  The entry that received the most votes was "Bob".  Needless to say, the government decided the current name was not really so bad...

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