Friday, May 30, 2008

On The Road To Alaska - We Made It!!!!

Somewhere along the Alaskan Highway

Days 14, 15 and 16

Day 14 on our great quest to find Alaska. We spent the night at Haines Junction Tuesday May 27th after driving 372 miles from Watson Lake. We had wanted to stop at Whitehorse however we just couldn’t find a suitable place to pull over; more our fault than the location. We did wake to the sounds of woodpeckers and loons nearby. Not wanting to drive a great distance today (Wednesday May 28th) we decided to stop Burwash Landing a grand total of 98 miles from Haines Junction. We had a great breakfast at Sheep Mountain then drove through Destruction Bay before setting up camp at Burwash Landing. It appears that we are 128 miles from the Alaska US border so we should be back in the US sometime early tomorrow. The next leg of the Alaska Highway should prove the most difficult as it has been built on permafrost and we’re told that the going will be slow; in any case we’ll be in Alaska tomorrow.

Breakfast at Sheep Mountain

Joined us for breakfast at Sheep Mountain

We left Burwash Landing the morning of Day 15 (May 29th) headed for Tok AK arriving early afternoon. We decided to spend 2 nights in Tok at the Tok RV Village which if you’re in Tok you need to think about stopping and spending some time here; clean quite sites, great laundry facilities and hot showers!

The drive into Tok was exciting in that we saw moose, beaver, and a huge grey owl. We crossed into Alaska at 1158 (Alaska time) having driven 3,542 miles from our front door to the US/Canada Alaska border. Yes we finally made it!

A sign of Spring in Tok

Tok at 10 P.M. !

Day 16 (May 30th) and we’re spending the time catching up on chores and housekeeping. We’ve got images to share however the internet connection reminds us of about 20 years ago – very slow! We move into Fairbanks Saturday where we’ll be till June 9th and will have better internet there so we’ll add the images then.

For now it’s in the lower 60’s with clear sunny skies and life is good in Alaska!

A note on road conditions: The road all the way to Whitehorse was very good and you could keep a reasonable speed if you wanted to (we traveled a little slower to see the sights); the road past Whitehorse to the Alaska border is a little more tricky with it getting worse just past Burwash Landing to Beaver Creek where is gets even rougher in-between Canada Customs and US Customs (approximately 20 miles). The key to all this is drive slow – Alaska has been there for many years and will continue to be there for many years to come.

Hi Claire! It was great talking to you from the side of the road in the Yukon Territory!

Sandy & Don

Monday, May 26, 2008

On The Road To Alaska Day 12

We’ve been on the road for 12 days and we still haven’t gotten to Alaska! Total mileage so far is a whopping 2,945 with maybe an additional 800 or so to go. We left Dawson Creek BC yesterday and are currently in Watson Lake Yukon; last night we stayed at Tetsa River Regional Park just outside Summit Lake which was still frozen. Weather has been good so far since leaving Dawson Creek we’ve been dry with the temps steadily climbing into the lower 80’s.

We’ve seen plenty of wildlife along the Alaskan Highway including, caribou, mule dear, black bear, rocky mountain sheep, stone mountain sheep, buffalo, moose, and a lot of waterfowl.

The place we’re staying at tonight is directly across the street from the famous sign post forest. A lonely GI during the building of the ALCAN in 1942 put up a sign showing how far his hometown was from Watson Lake and soon others followed till today where there are over 40,000 signs from all over the world. What better way to remember Memorial Day!

Still getting used to sunlight at 11 P.M.

Can’t wait to get to Fairbanks!

Sandy & Don

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On The Road To Alaska Day 10

Sightseeing in Dawson Creek and getting some rest then on to Fairbanks in the morning. Here’s proof that we’re actually here ….

Sandy & Don

Friday, May 23, 2008

On The Road To Alaska Day 9

Recap and update:
For those who just tuned in, we left Tucson AZ on Thursday May 15th traveling to Alaska, it’s now Friday May 23rd and we just arrived in Dawson Creek BC Canada some 2,326 miles later. We’ve driven through high winds, rain, some fog, overcast, and sickness to get here. We took an involuntary day off in McCammon ID due to stomach flu/food poisoning and a voluntary day off in St Mary MT to just rest and goof off.

What it looked like in St Mary the morning we left:

We crossed into Canada at the Piegon port of entry; it actually has taken longer to write about the event than the actual event took. Needless to say, the crossing was great. No weapons, smokes, or alcohol and we were granted entry.

We drove from St Mary MT to a little casino just outside of Whitecloud AB called Eagle River Casino. No, we didn’t enter the casino we just used their parking lot much like a couple other travelers did. We left the casino this morning (May 23rd) and after driving through Grande Prairie AB arrived here in Dawson Creek BC a little after 1 p.m. It’s been raining since St Mary with the temps in the mid to lower 40’s and absolutely no sun.

The plan is to stay here for a day and visit the sites. We’re in the “Mile 0 Campground” which is actually located at the 1 mile marker of the Alaskan Highway so technically we’re “on the way”. It’s still something like 1,400 miles to Fairbanks but a quick check of the weather shows a clearing with sunny skies and temps in the 60’s.

We’re both feeling great and looking forward to the next leg. Not too sure when the next update will be but we should be in Fairbanks June 1st.

See ya in Alaska!

Sandy & Don

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On the road to Alaska! Day 7

There’s a lot of catching up to do…

We had said that we had experienced an uneventful day back in day 2 that was to change at the end of the following day. Saturday evening Don came down with a stomach flu which put us on the sidelines for 2 nights. Thankfully we had stopped at a rest area/ truck stop for the night and just stayed there until Monday morning. Guess it was a very wise move in leaving a day early! Monday we drove into Great Falls MT and treated ourselves to a hotel room and drove into St Mary MT Tuesday morning. We had decided to spend two nights here so we’re right on schedule.

After resting up Monday in Great Falls we drove the 178 miles (3 1/2 hours) to St Mary stopping first in Browning to visit the Museum Of The Planes Indians (great place to visit); while there we saw the folks that drive the old red tour buses into Glacier National Park undergo drivers training.

We arrived in St Mary early afternoon with temps in the 70’s with little to no wind. Last night we got rain, thunderstorms, and cold wind. Today the clouds are all around us with cold gusty winds with temps around 40 and gusts 35+.

We cross into Canada in the morning (Day 8) and should be in Dawson Creek Day 9 where we’ll do another update. So far we’ve traveled 1,572 miles from Tucson. Fuel is expensive but we’re getting better than planned fuel economy and paying less than budgeted.

The entire area is rich in history of both the Blackfoot Nation and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

We’re both feeling fine and looking forward to the next leg of the trip.

Thank you for all the email and support.....

Sandy & Don

Friday, May 16, 2008

On the road to Alaska Day 2

It’s the end of day two and we’ve seen temps ranging from 54 to 87 degrees. Total mileage from Tucson is 571 so we are getting closer to Alaska!

Drove 9 ½ hrs today which turns out about 2 hours longer than we anticipated. The original goal was to drive from Camp Verde to Jacobs Lake (North Rim Grand Canyon) only to find the camp ground closed til the 20th. We kept driving and are now sitting in Cedar City UT, across the street from a carnival where a bag of cotton candy is $3.00 (please don’t ask how we know).

So we’re 2 hours ahead of our informal schedule for tomorrow which should work out great as we plan on stopping at Cabalas tomorrow.

All in all an uneventful day which if you think about it is just what we wanted.

Next update will be from St Mary MT which we should get to Monday or Tuesday latest.

Kaibab Nat'l Forest

Vermillion Cliffs

Hope you enjoy the videos!

Sandy & Don

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On the road to Alaska!

It’s May 15th and we’re finally on the road to Alaska. This trip has been at least 3 years in the making with at least as many changes in routes, times, vehicles etc. We first came up with the idea of the trip in 2004 in-between Don and Sandy’s retirement. First thought was to drive up in our truck without any type of RV. The first change came when we bought a small travel trailer in late 2004 only to find it not compatible with what we wanted or liked to do. The travel trailer led a very short life being traded in early 2005 for a 5th wheel. We also decided to upgrade our truck in addition to the 5th wheel and decided to postpone the trip till the truck had some miles and we had gotten used to the new 5th wheel. So the original trip planed for August 2005 got pushed back to 2006. Somewhere along the line we came up with the bright idea of trading the 5th wheel in on a 36’ motor home. Great idea (for a little while). We took delivery of the egg shell (as we began calling it) July 2005 and actually kept it for over a year. We took our longest trip in it in August 2006 for 6 weeks going to Glacier National Park and working our way south. We started the trip with 4 working slides and ended the trip with 3. We used the trip much like a 6 week RV show stopping everyone we saw with a pickup camper and asking questions. Shortly into this trip we decided that just as soon as we returned we’d sell the egg shell and get a pickup camper. So, the 2006 trip to Alaska was yet postponed again. Enter October 2006; we’re back from the trip and ready to get rid of the egg shell. We had contacted Tom’s Camper in Tempe AZ and spoke with the owner. Within a short period of less than 2 weeks after our return from the trip we had gotten rid of the bus and became proud owners of a Lance pickup camper. We learned a valuable lesson, much like boats; there are only two really great days in owning a Class A, the day you buy it and the day you sell it.

Being landscape photographers photographing in optimum light is a must. We found out the hard way that it just wasn’t feasible to be close to where we wanted to photograph, say sunrise without having to find a place to park a bus then drive sometime up to 90 minutes to capture the light. [Remember, these buses weight around 36,000 pounds and can’t be parked just anywhere.] Added to the fact that a single windshield wiper cost in the neighborhood $50. And while we had a diesel we still got somewhere around 5MPG. Enter the Ford F350; loaded with the Lance we are getting close to 14MPG.

We took delivery of the Lance Oct 2006 and knew immediately that it fit us just fine. Since then we’ve traveled to FL and return; taken a trip to Texas; and lost count of the trips to Utah. Life is good! So to make this long story shorter, the original 2005 trip that was postponed to 2006 is now a reality, we’re finally on the road!

We want to say thank you to the following folks who have helped up get this far.
Oracle Ford in Oracle AZ for having an outstanding dealership not to mention a kick-ass service department.
Tom’s Camperland in Tempe AZ who helped us see the light and get us into our Lance camper.

We’re currently staying at Distant Drums RV (a great place and one we call our home away from home) traveling north to St. Mary MT where we plan to spend at least a day in and around Glacier Park before heading into Canada. Once in Canada we’ll work our way to Dawson Creek and take the ALCAN into Fairbanks. We’ll be in Fairbanks long enough to get our oil changed and tires rotated and visit the Artic Circle. Denali National Park is next where we plan to camp for at least a week before heading to Homer.

The plan is to update with information where we are and add photos and maybe a short video whenever we have internet access so come back and check the updates. Feel free to comment if you want.

That’s it for now…..

Sandy & Don