Wednesday, September 1, 2010


We're back in Bozeman. Lots of unloading and cleaning up, but nice to be able to do that in steps. That first l-o-n-g hot shower was a treat after a summer of nursing our water supply!

Thank you all for riding along!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Canadian Rockies

We've been making earnest progress toward Bozeman and home. From the Cassiar Highway we made Vanderhoof, B.C., then it was another day's travel on to Jasper, AB. Last night we walked all over the back streets of Jasper and admired all the neat houses, a few original log cabins, and lovely flower gardens, then we treated ourselves to pretty good pizza back out on the main drag and hit the hay for an early start.

Today we made some serious distance. Up early, down the Ice Fields Parkway to Banff and the Trans-Canada Highway, through Calgary, and on south to Lethbridge. A 400 mile tug. I could tell you about the rain, but what's the point? There was fresh snow plastered on the Canadian Rockies and we were lucky to get a few peeks at the peaks.

Tomorrow the border, but surprisingly we won't stretch for home. Better to cap the trip off camping on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake at the silos and ease into town Tuesday and have the energy and enthusiusm to unload the trailer.

Fresh snow on the Canadian Rockies.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Down the Cassiar Rabbit Hole

Late August is early fall in the Yukon - aspens going yellow, fireweed's last blooms at the tops of the stalk, frosty mornings, closed and boarded tourist stops, but if you drop down to British Columbia via the Cassiar Highway it is late summer when you pop out. Everything is still green and quite a bit warmer and the gas stations are open. Just ask Alice.

So just before Watson Lake we bailed off the Alaska Highway and headed straight south for 450 miles on the Cassiar Highway. It’s paved the whole way now. We spent one night at the free RV camp at Jade City and the next day we stopped mid-afternoon at Meziaden Lake Provincial Park as the sun was out. We’re back into British Columbia now. Tomorrow we’ll hit the Yellowshead Highway and head easterly toward Jasper, Alberta with an overnight stop in Vanderhoof. Canadian Rockies here we come.

The past several days have been mostly showers, some heavy, so we’ve been traveling a bit longer each day to avoid just sitting around in the rain.

Jade City - the land of free camping.

Cassiar Highway southbound.

Joyce taking in the sun at Meziaden Lake.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Six Hour Pit Stop

Ah, the frost heaves of the Yukon finally got us. We busted a spring on the trailer 120 miles east of Tok and 80 miles west of Destruction Bay – about as far from help as you can get on the Alaska Highway! I was able to strap the axle up and slowly move the rig a ¼ mile to a Jim Cook’s roadhouse and cafĂ© and strip off the remaining parts and clean things up. A few phone calls searching for a mechanic with the correct spring and Charlie was on his way from Destruction Bay. It took him almost two hours to get to us and with both of us working away we fitted the new spring. This was strictly a cash operation so we were left with literally no cash on hand after paying Charlie $400 in a mix of American and Canadian currency.  We rambled down the road until dusk and tucked into a rest area with six other rigs for the night.

In my own defense I must tell you I was driving slowly through the whoop-tee-do’s. Close inspection of the pieces of the broken spring showed that two of the four leaves had crack through some time before – probably on one of our Mexcio trips would be my guess. You can bet I looked the other springs over as well as I could for cracks. Check your springs right in the center of the leaf stack.

 I only went 50 yards in a great cloud of smoke when the spring let go!

An eagle sat and watched us for a bit as it dried its wings. I took that as a good sign.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Discovery III Stern-Wheeler

Today was a lovely day for a boat ride -  mid-60's, no wind, and plenty of sun. We took the paddle boat Discovery III down to the confluence of the Chena and Tanana Rivers. There we got off and toured a native village that re-creates the life styles of modern and pre-contact indigenous peoples of Alaska. The trip is a bit touristy of course, but extremely well done i.e. more on the informative side of things rather then popular entertainment. When you get to Fairbanks don't miss it.

The folks that run the trip even had a float plane take off and land next to the boat!

Discovery III

Detail of the paddle wheel.

Yes, he is that low.

Parkas now and then!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Arctic Circle Day Trip

Today it was up and on the move by 7:30 AM. We were bound and determined to drive the first 115 miles of the Dalton Highway and get to 66.5 degrees north latitude i.e. the Arctic Circle - where the sun never sets on June 21st and never breaks the horizon on December 21st. Of course to get to the Dalton Highway you first have to drive 75 miles north of Fairbanks on the regular road system. We're talking a 380 mile day!

Other then lots of frost heaves as a result of the road being built on top of permafrost, some mud, and a few new chips in the windshield it was pretty routine. Our speed on the Dalton varied from 30 to 55 mph, I'd guess we averaged around 40 mph including the stop at the Yukon River for pictures. The biggest hazard was the trucks hauling gear north, those boys don't slow down for much - when we saw them coming we did slow way down and pulled over as far as we could to avoid the spray of rocks - that worked well. The road is wide enough to get well away from on coming traffic. We had our CB radio on channel 19 so we usually knew what was coming, and the road maintenance crew even gave us a personal estimate of the delay at one construction site.

We arrived by lunch time, got the required picture taken, and did a short hike to check out the campground that is set back well back from the road. Surprisingly there were zero mosquitoes.

It was a fun outing and a good scouting trip for future Dalton Highway adventures.

The Yukon River Bridge on the Dalton Highway.

The highway parallels the Alaska Pipeline the whole way.

Been there, done that, still need the tee shirt!

View along the way.

Bow hunters were doing well hunting caribou on the north slope.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chena Hot Springs

The soft life gets even better! We drove the hour out to Chena Hot Springs this afternoon and soaked in the outdoor pool until we were wrinkled (ok, make that MORE wrinkled) and limp. They perform the small miracle of taking the 156 degree spring water, tempering it down to 105 degrees and filling a gravel lined pond for one's basking pleasure. As a bonus no kids are allowed in the outside pool. What's not to like?

The ride out was fun also, the hot springs are literally at the end of the road.