Tag Archives: Alaska highway

Day 4: A Canada Day and the End of the Highway

We rolled in to Dawson Creek around noon. We gassed up and found a Subway for a quick bite. 

Descending out of the Northern Rockies is a beautiful process, made even more beautiful by the bright sunshine and blue skies overhead.

By the time you hit Dawson Creek, or Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, the sharp cliffs and granite walls have already given way to rolling hills. The familiar stunted pine trees of Alaska, Yukon and northern B.C. gave way to boreal forests and taller, fuller pine trees.

Soon B.C. dumps you out onto the rich and vast flatness that is Alberta. The trees gave way to grain elevators, and two lane highways gave way to big four-lane expressways.

You can feel civilization miles before you’ve reached the first sizable town, it’s the feeling you get as you approach an exit with a Wal Mart, a McDonalds and a Petro Canada all on the same parcel.

It was Canada Day all day, and everywhere there were flags and celebrations. One farming community, called Valhalla, had little banners up to decorate the town, and it was idyllic and perhaps iconic.

I thought we might roll into Edmonton in time to catch the fireworks commemorating Canada’s Independence Day, but we were a little too late.

However, after checking in at the hotel, I ran down the street to try to get the kids a bite to eat.

On my way back to the hotel, I saw a massive thunder and lightening storm to the east. You don’t need fireworks to celebrate, when mother nature is in a festive mood.

Tomorrow it’s a 12-hour drove to Missoula and a couple days of rest before we push on for Chicago.

Day 3: The Menagerie Road –

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as I peeked my head out the hotel window in Whitehorse this morning. 

After yesterday’s misadventure, I was hoping for a good day of driving with the kind of scenery I’ve been expecting from the great north country.

We ate a breakfast buffet under the watchful eye of a buff German woman who was so efficient, it made me laugh to watch her work.  We gassed up the vehicles and hit the road under big blue skies.

The roads out of Whitehorse were immediately better than those we drove yesterday, and we moved along at a respectable clip. We actually did the first 100 miles without stopping. 

The first part of the day was all verdant underbrush, Aspen forests and those wide, muddy rivers that I’ve been noticing lately.

We made good time and covered the first 200 miles In a little under 4 hours. The kids slept, and we got through most of the first part of “Game of Thrones” on audio tape.

Then we saw one, a little black shape just off the side of the road. I braked hard and pulled to the side of the road. I put it in reverse, and pretty soon we were side by side with a small black bear.

It was game on after that. All told, we saw 14 bears, mostly blacks with one grizzly, a lynx, dozens of wood bison, Trumpeter swans, big horn sheep and a Loon.

It was as if Paul Simon had written another road trip song, one I shall call “The Menagerie Road.” 

By the end of the day we had stopped pulling over, but we still pointed them out enthusiastically.

By late afternoon the rains came again, and we walked into Liard Hot Springs to stick our feet in the thermal waters there.

The Northern Rockies loomed large as we got underway again, but the going was smooth and there was little stress, if any.

I went through two bags of sunflower seeds and two thermoses of green tea, I listened to way too much Journey before noon, and I enjoyed this northern stretch of highway, this Menagerie Road.

Looking forward to a change of scenery tomorrow. Already we are far enough south for darkness, and that is a good thing for me. 

TAA