Monday, August 31, 2009

8/31/2009 We Want Out of Canada!

We are so ready to be back in the States!

If we had known the Alaska Highway was going to be like this we would have gone back by way of Cassiar Highway, the way we came.

Yes, the scenery is breathtaking but the mountains are outrageous.


It doesn't help that August must be bridge maintenance month because every one we come to we are held up because traffic is down to one lane over these small bridges. Of course we never seem to hit it right that we have right of way when we get there. Oh no, we have to wait for 37 vehicles come from the other side before our sign turns from STOP to SLOW. It makes for a long day.

Everyone we talked to said, "Oh no, Alaska Highway isn't bad." Then how come we've seen bumper stickers that say "I SURVIVED THE ALASKA HIGHWAY!" Survived is right. They lied to us!

Yes, the Cassiar is slower because of unpaved sections but at least the frost heaves are marked on that road. We hit one set of "moguls" so hard today, because there was no warning that they were even there, that we had to pull over because we were certain the TV was on the floor after that. Luckily it wasn't but a few other things did get dislodged from their normal places. We learned to open doors and drawers and overhead compartments very slowly!

We saw signs like this one all over the place but never did see the moose.


We made contact with our Quail Run friends, Wilf and Marilyn, so we will be spending a couple of days with them when we reach Calgary.

This is the sign that starts the Alaska Highway. Mile 0.


As beautiful as Canada is, we're looking forward to being back in the good ol' US of A!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

8/30/2009 Happy Birthday Bob!

Today is Bob's birthday. His third that he has spent out of the USA. His first he was in Germany with the Army, the second he was in Viet Nam, once again with the Army, the third, in Canada on one helluva RV trip!

We're not traveling today, its a day of rest. We've covered a lot of miles in the last three days and we're both tired of the truck, Bob certainly more so than me.

So we rested. We watched the Phillies play which happens to be our first game this season that we've been able to watch. Prior to today when the games were nationally televised we didn't have a cable TV connection or we weren't anywhere near a TV at all. With seven games in front we're looking forward, towards the World Series. We hope.

I had taken a nice roast out to thaw when we parked yesterday but Bob said since we are in a park with a restaurant that we should eat there tomorrow thus saving having to do dishes and well, it IS his birthday. Well, ok, I don't even need the excuse of a birthday to eat out, the sun coming up in the morning is enough reason for me so I slipped the roast back into the freezer for another day.


Check out the door handles. From the looks of these two pictures it seems as though some flooding must have gone on here at some point.


So here we are, nothing thawed for dinner today and he says to me, "Oh darn, the Phillies are on, I don't want to miss the game, let's eat here and watch the game. OOOOKAAAAAYYYYYYY. Now what do I do? Ramen noodles and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,,,, HAPPY BIRTHAY DINNER BOB! It didn't turn out to be THAT bad. We had one of our favorite throw it together quick meals. Fried Spam, fried potatoes and green beans. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB!

After living in mostly parking lots these past few months it was kind of nice to have trees on both sides of us.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

8/29/2009 Our Own Personal Denali

We visited Denali twice. Once in June, once in August when our friend Dianne was with us. Both times were days to remember. We saw wildlife outside your normal squirrels, birds, and animals like that. We saw beautiful sights that will forever be in our memories. We saw great mountains and sweeping valleys, rivers, lakes and ponds.

Today we experienced Denali again. No, we haven't turned around and driven back to Alaska, we found our personal Denali or maybe I should say we had our own personal Denali-like experience again today, in Canada.

Today is a day that neither Bob nor I will ever forget. Follow along as I once again relive this day through pictures.

The day started great in that we were in T-shirts! No jackets! The morning wasn't quite warm enough to start out in shorts but we were quite comfortable in our short sleeves jerseys. You are probably chuckling at the thought that I can get so excited about wearing a T-shirt but to me this is MONUMENTAL! I'm still having a hard time dealing with the fact that I spent the summer in long pants and sweatshirts.

You just know its going to be a good day when your day starts like this! The colors were more pronounced when I first saw it but I was able to get this by the time I got the camera.


We weren't on the road too long when we saw our first sign of wildlife.



We didn't expect to see bison along the sides of the roadways in Canada. At least I didn't.

We were just driving along enjoying the scenery and I snapped a few pictures.


With each mile it just got better!


Bob said, "There's something on the road down there". I looked ahead and sure enough there something but we were still too far away to determine what it was we were looking at.

Closer still and we could make out what the shape actually was.

Wild horses. Five in all and they paid us no mind.



In case I haven't mentioned it yet, we're taking the Alaska Highway and its quite a road. Up and down, curve to the left and curve to the right. A roller coaster kind of road.


A little further down the road and we came upon a small group of Stone Sheep.



Wildlife abounds!

If you've never been on the Alaska Highway it is truly a sight to behold. The Canadian Rocky Mountains are just breathtaking!



I wish everyone had the opportunity to see this.


For most of the day we had the roads to ourselves. Every once in a while we would share a stretch of road with another RV'er.


My heart started racing when we saw this because we didn't know if this was an "old" accident or one that just happened.


We slowed down to see if perhaps someone was still in the car or laying in the field in need of help but we didn't have to come to a complete stop because as we came up along side the car we saw the car has obviously been there a good while. Long enough that someone had taken the opportunity to write in orange paint on the bottom of the car....LOSER! Actually, we were glad this was an old accident because out here in the boonies there is no cell service and our first aid kit consists of a half a box of Band-aids in which only the really small paper cut size are left. Oh, and we have half a tube of NeoSporin. If someone had been laying there with brains hanging half out,,,,well they would have been in a whole lot of trouble if they were depending on us. (Note to self: re-stock first aid kit)

As I said earlier the scenery was just outstanding! We came up to Muncho Lake and we sat in the truck for a minute or so..... in awe. We have both seen some beautiful lakes in our time but nothing ever like this. These pictures are not touched up in any way. None whatsoever. Not color enhanced, not color saturated, not auto-adjusted, NOTHING. These pictures are just like the camera took them. I tell you this because the color of the lake is just amazing.


"Muncho" means "big lake" in the Kaska Language. At seven and a half miles long it is one the biggest natural lakes in the Canadian Rockies.


Near the edges it is a beautiful green color where the water is shallower.

WHY is it so blue? I just know you were wondering that so I did some research.

"The striking blue color of Muncho Lake is created by tiny rock fragments scraped by the valley walls by glaciers and carried by melt- water and carried downstream to the lake. This silt flows into the icy water where most of it sinks to the bottom. Fine particles ground to the texture of flour remain suspended in the lake water giving it a milky appearance. The "rock flour" reflects and scatters sunlight, returning mainly the bluegreen part of the spectrum to our eyes."

This is truly the most beautiful lake I have ever set eyes on.



Bob asked me how many pictures can I take of one lake,,,but I couldn't stop.


As blue as it is, its crystal clear. You can see all the way to the bottom as far as you can see. Now how deep it is in the center I have no idea, but what we could see from the shoreline....crystal clear.

Bear with me, just a few more to go.


Tell me you couldn't sit and look at this all day!


Bob finally convinced me it was time to move on. I didn't want to leave. Had there been a house on the banks for sale I think I would have bought it. Today this was my "happy place".

Reluctantly, I got back in the truck. Of course we had more outstanding scenery as we drove along...but nothing like that lake!




I'm going to share something here with you now because you just never know when a small child is going to ask you about this and you don't want to look dumb do you? I thought not, so pay attention here, you never if YOU could get the chance to be on the TV show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader". This could be one of the questions you know.

Look at the picture below. Do you see the horizontal lines (and some vertical lines) in the rock? Do you WHY those lines are there?


AHA! I didn't think you did. Its called a FOLDED MOUNTAIN.

Originally, all the rock of the Canadian Rockies lay flat on the shallow sea bed of the western continental shelf, where it had accumulated grain-by-grain for over a billion years. That's a long time! About 175 million years ago, the continent of North America began to move westward, overriding the Pacific floor and colliding with offshore chains of islands. Still with me here?

The continental shelf was caught in the squeeze. The flat-lying layers slowly buckled into folds like those you see here. As time passed folded mountain ranges sprang up across British Columbia. By 120 millions years ago, the Rockies were showing above the sea. They grew another 75 million years, rising faster than erosion could tear them down - THANK HEAVENS! - likely reaching Himalayan heights. (really, really big) Active mountain building ended in the Canadian Rockies some 45 million year ago. The peaks have since been eroded to a small fraction of their original size. Now if these mountains are just a small fraction of what they used to be....well I can't even imagine how big they were then. NOW, aren't you glad you know that? The next time you are riding through the Canadian Rockies you can talk intelligently to your traveling companions about folded mountains. Again, what I won't do to inform my readers.

We had some scary moments when we were traveling trough the Rockies. I just hate it when there aren't any guard rails around the curves.


And I like my roads like my men....broad shouldered. And this one ain't!


And we weren't done with the wildlife yet. Mountain goats! Look in the center of the pictures.



Just minutes after seeing these mountain goats we came across this caribou. (left of sign)


As we got down out of the mountains, traffic really picked up. Lots of tractor trailers were on the road now.

You would think after this beautiful scenery that we just experienced that our day would just be perfect, wouldn't you? Well, it got a whole lot worse!

We have traveled a little over 10,000 miles since we left Arizona last April. We haven't had any mechanical problems, knock on wood, our rig hasn't presented any problems, its all been good. Until today. Within an hour's time, within a 50 mile distance, all hell broke loose. The worst part? It didn't have to happen.

We were on a pretty busy road, just coming out of a small town. Two lanes, wide lanes. Coming towards us were three pickups, each towing a boat, each filled with 20-something males. Like it was choreographed, timed to the second, these three vehicles and the attached trailers moved over to the shoulder of the road and gravel flew everywhere. You guessed it, our windshield took the brunt of it and we got a pretty good piece of glass missing and a few little chips. There was NO REASON for them to move over to the shoulder. None. We weren't hugging the center line because, number one, Bob just doesn't drive that way and if anything we were more towards the right hand side of the lane because of the sway of the trailers they were towing. We caught sight of the passengers as they passed us and we both remarked that from the looks we got from them and the laughing they were doing it was like this is a planned thing they do. Let's see how much gravel we can kick up!!! Not more than a half hour later we were crossing a two lane bridge over a creek and barreling down the road is a tractor trailer going about 70 mph. Way too fast! Just as he came almost parallel with our truck he hit a large gravel section in the road and again gravel flew everywhere. We saw it coming and there was nowhere we could go. We couldn't have avoided it anyway, it just happened too fast. Damage this time? One foot long crack, three chunks of glass missing and about two and half dozen tiny chips. We dread washing the truck because then we'll see how bad our paint job got hit. If this truck had been traveling at a reasonable rate of speed we feel this wouldn't have happened. I wonder if he heard us? Let's just say we used language my mother has never heard us use!

We finally called it a day when we got to Fort Nelson. We're going to spend two nights here, we're tired of driving/riding. Besides, tomorrow is Bob's birthday and nobody should have to traverse mountains, deal with as......, nevermind, or drive all day on their birthday.

We hope you enjoyed the good part of our travels today.

Friday, August 28, 2009

8/28/2009 Sign Post Forest

Bob and I have heard so much about this "forest" and today we get to see it.

We put in a really long day on the road today. I didn't take too many scenery pictures because I spent most of the day reading. It just passes the time faster for me. Bob isn't the greatest conversationalist when we're towing because he's always paying attention to noises and gages and traffic and his total attention is on what he's doing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining because when all of your worldly possessions are in the truck with you or in the rig attached to the truck and said rig is your HOME, its best that the driver is totally focused!

So here are a few scenery pictures.





In the early evening we finally reached our destination. The Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake.

In 1942, during construction of the Alaska Highway, the US Army Corp of Engineers erected mileage posts at their camps that listed places, distances and directions in the Yukon, other Canadian cities, cities within the United States of America and also other parts of the world. One of these posts was erected at the Wye, the corner of the Alaska Highway and the road to Watson Lake Airport, where the Sign Post Forest stands today. The original post is the only post of its type to survive from the Alaska Highway construction.


Carl Lindley, a homesick soldier, added his hometown sign to the army signpost and started a time-honored tradition. People from all over the world continue to add their own hometown signs to the Sign Post Forest on a daily basis in the spring summer and fall.

In 1992, Carl Lindley returned with his wife, Eleanor, to Watson Lake for the first time since his departure in 1943. He was overwhelmed when he saw the size of the Sign Post Forest. As we were.

The Sign Post Forest has been protected and nurtured over the years by the citizens of Watson Lake.

The Sign Post Forest in one of the best know attractions along the highway from Dawson Creek, BC to Fairbanks, Alaska.

Here are pictures of the Forest and believe me, this is only a portion of the signs here.


The signs are counted every year. Last count? 65,164 signs


Just row after row after row.....


All kinds of things are used to make a sign.



We looked to see if we could find any from Delaware.



The people from Bear and Dover obviously did not take the same route. Their mileage number are way too far apart.




We were just simply amazed by the whole thing.


Of course we had to leave our sign. We added a license plate from Delaware.