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Traveling the Alcan, Alaska Canadian Highway

Thursday, June 2012

Some extracts from my Alcan log as sent to my Family - Unedited

Subject: Thursday’s Adventure.  Where is my photographer when I need her?

Today was a long day, an exciting day, a boring day, and a small world. I was anticipating a long day because of the distance planned for the day.  A total of 873 miles on the Alaska Highway. Traveling from Dawson Creek, BC, not to be confused with Dawson City YT, to Whitehorse YT. I remember Whitehorse from previous trips and I remember it was not one of my favorite places in the Yukon.  

Nothing has changed, as I closed in on the city I started to have the same feelings, not sure why but I just sense that I am not welcome here. Silly, but that along with confusing roads that go in circles, the rain, and the smell of fish from the river all add to the mystic. If I really think about it, I probably feel that way because the guy at the Subway a few years ago ripped me off.  He left a lasting impression.

Why a long day? Well, after being on the road for 17 hours driving in rain 85% of the time and fog that at times allowed me to drive a maximum of 30 KM/H, for you non-metric types that is about 20 mph, anyone should be tired.  And bored.

Why an exciting day? The rain has been going on for numerous days and thus, all rivers, streams, lakes, ditches, roads, etc have plenty of water. Water standing all over the place and more of it running down the mountainsides and over the roads. Yes, over the roads. It was not unusual to be cruising along and suddenly come to spot in the road flooded. Driving the Jeep, this was not a major issue other then the fact that you were never sure if there really was a road or if it was all washed out. I was doing okay and feeling pretty good until I came around a corner and saw construction signs. As I closed in on the workers and heavy equipment I realized they were attempting to divert the water running down the mountainside. The water was washing out the road so they told me it was okay to cross it as long as I stayed in the middle and drove slow. I did, but the water still came up to the fenders. I am sure they closed the road shortly after I went through.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I pulled through the water and I was just getting comfortable when I saw several people walking around in the middle of the road with trucks parked on the road and on the shoulder on the next hill. I slowed down, and then checked my mirror to see that it was filled with a pickup with flashing lights. The guys on the hill started frantically waving their arms, some were waving for me to hurry up, others to stop and others just waving. It looked somewhat like a bunch of Indians doing a rain dance. It was raining.  Guys hopping all over the road and flapping their arms like chickens with their heads cut off.  

Well I coasted to the first guy and I must admit he was a typical Alaskan. He was dressed worse than me so you know it was bad. He had a beard, shaggy uncut hair, a baseball hat, a rain coat that I hoped he wouldn’t flash me with and several missing teeth. As I rolled down my window he shouted, “Hurry up, you can make it if you drive fast and stay on the left. The roads washing out and it will be gone any second.” I wanted to ask a hundred questions but the thought of being stranded on this side of the washout with this guy convinced me to try to make it.  

I made it, so yes, today was exciting.  

So why do I need my photographer? Back on the road again and the clouds finally parted and the sun came out. Along with the sun the animals came out. They finally got a brief break from the rain and an opportunity to go after some of the lush vegetation. I was just pulling out of Fort Nelson, BC after a gas up when I spotted something small, black, and fuzzy running out of the woods followed by another black fuzzy thing.  I knew it was wildlife so I slowed down and pulled into the ditch and off the road to watch two bear cubs frolic like little puppies. Their mom was standing nearby filling her stomach on wildflowers and weeds. I reached over to grab my camera and to turn it on. I should have known that I would attract attention and sure enough some idiot pulled up behind me, only he did not get off the road. He basically made a narrow two lane road into a single lane road because of how he parked. Well, as I was adjusting my camera the idiot decided to jump out of his car with his camera in hand. Major problem, as he did it in front of an oncoming semi. The semi driver had few choices and he decided to use the air horns to let the idiot know that he could not stop. After the idiot dropped a load in his pants he jumped out of the way. Sadly so did all the bears. If my photographer had been here she could have gotten it all on digital.  

I did see plenty of wildlife over the next several hours. I stopped counting the bears and the bison. Several elk, only one moose, no wolf, no caribou. Seeing all the wildlife was fun as I had not seen anything because of the rain since leaving Montana and even then it was deer and antelope.  

Why a small world? I was looking for gas stations and had pretty much resigned myself to having to wait till I drove the next 40 miles to Watson Lake. As I crested a hill I saw a station and a sign that said Contact Creek Lodge, we are cheaper than Watson Lake. So I thought what the hell, this is my last gas stop before I reach Whitehorse. I needed a break anyway. I filled the Jeep and walked in to pay the bill. I handed my credit card to the typical Alaskan, who once again was dressed worse than me, and I walked towards the cooler for a drink. I came back and sat my purchases down and started looking around. He then said, “This looks like my picture.” Wondering what the hell he meant I turned around and said “What?”  He replied, “Your credit card has the same picture as my picture over there,” as he pointed towards a print of the Crystal Mill hanging on the wall. Yep, it sure is, I said and I gave him some history of the place. I asked how he got the picture and he told me he got it 28 years ago when he first moved here from Florida. Some tourist traded it for some gas.  

Small world and that is not the first time that has happened to me. Pictures of that mill sure get around. I found them in Tok, Alaska, as well.  

Tell Cole hi for me. I would call but I am 2 hours later than you. Maybe I can call tomorrow.  

Got to hit the sack.  One more long day to go.  

P.S.  Another reason to dislike Whitehorse.  After a breakfast and a brisk walk this morning, I hit the unlock button to open my Jeep door. I slid behind the wheel, slipped the key in the ignition, turned the key and prepared to leave.  Oops, what is that annoying noise? As I scanned the instrument panel I saw the “Low Fuel” indicator was flashing. That can’t be as I filled up last night before I checked into the hotel.  I looked at the gas gauge to double check. What! The thing is on empty. So I got out, checked for leaks, etc., and found none. Then I discovered the gas cap was hanging loose. Yep, you guessed it. Somebody siphoned all the gas out of my tank. There goes another $100. The sooner I can get out of Whitehorse the better.