Alaska Trip Summer 2009
The idea for this joint trip to Alaska, with Pat’s sister, Lei and her husband Rod, began with camping together in Colorado in 2008. Rod and Lei had lived in Anchorage for 17 years, prior to moving to the lower 48, but had never driven the Alaska Highway or the Cassiar. So it was decided, setting around a campfire at Grand Lake Colorado, “Let’s drive to Alaska next summer.” So the planning began and with numerous emails exchanged during the winter months, the trip was on and a meeting place chosen.
We decided to meet at the KOA campground in Kalispell Montana on a set date. They would drive there from their home in Portland, pulling their Aliner popup and we would proceed from Stuart Florida with our truck camper.
The first part of June, we headed out of Florida toward Stillwater Oklahoma to visit my brother and his wife. From there, our route was to head north into Kansas to Salina and pick up Interstate 70 west to Denver. From Denver, we took Interstate 25 north to Casper Wyoming, and west to the Tetons and Yellowstone NPs. A short stop to see my sister, just out of Missoula Montana and we headed to Kalispell to meet Rod and Lei for our trip to Alaska.
Each trip, we will focus in on a few ideas to photograph, to visit or to try. This trip, 2009, I decided to take as many photos of the old roadhouses along the Alaska Highway as I could, both the open ones and the closed ones. In the early days of our travel to/from Alaska, these roadhouses were like an "oasis" in the desert. But now most of them are closed due to many reasons, the economy, retirement of the owners, inability to sell the business, etc. From checking my photos of the trip, several thousand, many out houses were photographed, by me as well.
We also decided to keep track of our purchases of cinnamon rolls or sticky buns. (name seems to depend on location. The best we found this summer, according to the taste buds of the four of us was at Tetsa River Services. Just the perfect amount of sugar, cinnamon and goo over them. LOL Also very good were the ones at Rancheria Lodge, Johnston's Crossing, Buckshot Betty's and at the Magpie Bakery in Valdez. Can't recommend the ones at the Village Bakery in Haines Junction, too dry, tough and the wrong type of dough, IMHO. Not exactly scientific, but a good excuse to buy rolls, whenever we saw them advertised. LOL
Florida to Montana:
The third week of June found the four of us in our two RVs headed north to cross the border at Roosville. Cool morning, 55°F inside the camper when I awoke that morning which was the trend for most of our trip. The border crossing was a real “non-even”, very few questions ask of either of us and sent on our way.
Drove north on Hwy 93/95 to Golden BC, headed east to Yoho NP in BC. Got a pair of campsites at Kicking Horse Campground operated by Parks Canada.. Started to rain about the time we arrived so no camp fire that night.
The next day we were told by a ranger that the road to the falls was open so the four of us piled into their Explorer and headed up the mountain. Light rain was falling, but Takakkaw Falls was spectacular as always. It was just a short drive over to the Ice Fields Parkway, which runs between Banff and Jasper NPs. Spent the day on the Parkway, stopping to see sites, etc. A return visit was in order for us on the return trip back home.
Drove to the town of Jasper, looking for diesel for our truck. Pat remembered from our last visit in 2006 that a station on the east edge of town had it. Stopped and filled up with diesel and filled our propane tank as well.
After a day on the Parkway, we decided to drive on closer to the town of Hinton,to camp. Stayed at the KOA of Hinton and it was really nice. Clean bathrooms/showers, large sites with easy in/out to them. Started to rain about the time we were parking on the nice level sites. Summer storm with wind, rain and some hail/sleet mixed in for good measure. After the brief summer storm, it cleared up and we were able to eat dinner outside on the picnic table.
The Trip north feels like it begins here, as we turned on to Hwy 40, headed for Grande Cache and on to Grande Prairie. Stopped in Grande Cache for breakfast, at a place we had eaten at on previous trips. Bought diesel and paid $.879cad per liter. Gasoline was $.16 more per liter.
Then on north to Grande Prairie. The weather was overcast, somewhat windy but still beautiful, saw many deer, grazing along side the road. The changes in Grande Prairie were many, as the economy was booming. Many new stores in town since our last visit, a new Home Depot, Sportsmen’s Wholesale Store, many new homes and apartments. Lots of growth everywhere we looked. Population ,now given as 50,000 residents on the town signs. We stopped at the Sportsmen’s and bought some stuff, citronella candles, etc.
Next stop was in Dawson Creek where we did the regular photo shoots of the Mile post sign, etc.
From DC it was on to Charlie Lake Provincial Park. Not easy to find the turn off to get into the park but well worth the time looking for it. Cost was $15cad for a dry site, water and sewer dump available at the entrance. This park had several large sites set up for two rigs. Shaped somewhat like a Y. Each RV had a table and fire pit but was great for us to share. Many, of the Provincial parks in both Alberta and BC, had these doubles, we found throughout the summer. The photo below, of the buffalo meat for sale, was on the back door of a laundry mat in Fort Nelson. Don't know how much water you got for the $5.
The next day headed north, we found lots of heavy truck traffic, the road was in great shape but busy. Many natural gas related industries in this area of Canada. Stopped in Fort Nelson to buy groceries at the IGA and to get fuel. (diesel was $1.059cad) The road started getting rough in the area of Steamboat Mountain all the way to the Tetsa River where we camped for the night. Tetsa River Regional Park was the way the sign read. Cost was $15 per rig and firewood was $5 a bundle from the host. Many mosquitoes call this park home. LOL But a good chance to try out my new bug repellant devices, Thermacells. Turned out they worked, but no better than a citronella candle. You had to keep them upwind of you or they were worthless, plus somewhat expensive to operate. With the replacement pads and the small propane cylinders, about $.50 an hour operating const. But being the bug magnet I am, I have to have something to keep the bitters off of me.
Plan today is to drive to Muncho Lake and cook breakfast, then on to Liard Hot Springs to find a camp site for tonight. Muncho is a beautiful turquoise colored body of water. The Alaska Highway runs along the shore line for several miles. In the last ten years, all but one of the old road houses/gas stations, etc. along the lake, have closed. We pulled into a large pull out on the north end of the lake to cook breakfast and admire the scenery. Another couple stopped, they were from the Land of Oz , had flown to Vancouver, purchased a used RV and were touring Western Canada. They indicated they planned to sell their RV prior to flying back to Australia. Got fuel at the Toad River Lodge, always a fun stop. I have used the runway across the highway on some of my flying trips to Alaska. The campground here at Toad River Lodge is very nice.
Some road construction was being done at the Tetsa River crossing #2, with a bridge replacement and resurfacing the road for a distance on both side of the bridge work. A pilot car was in operation. We made it to Liard Hot Springs and got a nice double site #48. The sisters decided to go for a hike, so Rod started the evening campfire and I started getting supper ready, a pot of chili. I had to hook up our small inverter to be able to grind some coffee beans. Without electricity we were back to our press pot for making coffee.
The area around Liard had been involved in a large forest fire for the last few weeks so the air had a smell of smoke to it. The government “hot shot” crews were working to put out hot spots along the sides of the road. Every once in a while, flames could be seen back in the charred timber. Helicopter crews were working out of the Coal River Lodge. Flying supplies and personnel out to the needed areas. One copter was dropping water from a bag slung under it. We pulled into Coal River with the idea of refueling and grabbing a bite to eat. Got fuel and the young cook told us he didn’t have time to make breakfast as he was fixing crew lunches. So much for the “breakfast all day” sign out front. They were running short handed that day, the two owners were gone to town and two of the four employees didn’t show up for work. Two employees were trying to do the work normally handled by six.
Dawson Peaks RV Park was our next planned stop for the evening. Saw many buffalo along the highway in the area of Coal River. This herd was reintroduced in the last 20 years. Big dudes. After pulling out of Coal River and no breakfast, we decided to stop at Whirlpool Canyon to cook.
In mid afternoon we made it to Watson Lake and stopped to prowl the Sign Post Forest as it is called. Don’t know what they do with the old signs but most appear to be of recent vintage. I hung a hand painted one of my Oklahoma home town, Wynnewood, there in 1962 but it wasn’t to be found. Probably deteriorated beyond being viewable. Closest one I found was of Pauls Valley, seven miles away from Wynnewood.
The brown building below is the now closed Iron Creek Lodge (gas station, cafe, RV Park, motel) It has been for sale for a number of years, last price I saw was $675,000
approximately. It is one of the "newest" of the closed road house on the highway. The boarded up motel/hotel below has since burned in Watson Lake. The last photo is of the Junction 37 gas station. There were two stations at this corner for years but, one bought the other one and then closed it, permanently.
Made it to Dawson Peaks RV late afternoon. Got a couple of sites, $28cad for electric and water. Our sites were new and really need some work on leveling them. Beautiful lake just below the restaurant and motel buildings, but not easy to see from most of the camp sites. Had dinner at the restaurant and it was excellent, food and service and reasonably priced IMHO. This place wins the prize for having the most mosquitoes of anywhere we camped this summer.
The bridge, crossing over an arm of Teslin Lake, shown below, is just before the village of Teslin, home of a very nice museum and a good fuel, food, RV park,etc. stop at the Yukon Motel. The Yukon Motel has a nice wildlife museum also. The business is owned and operated by the son of the people that did own and operate Muk Luk Annies for many years (which has been closed for several years now.)
Up early and on our way toward Whitehorse. First stop was the village of Teslin where we toured the Native Center. Made a stop at Jakes Corner for a late breakfast/brunch, whatever it was called. Three of us had an open faced steak sandwich special. The steaks turned out to be full sized dinner steaks on Texas toast. Excellent and we didn’t need to eat again that day.
Had called and made reservations at Hi Country RV in Whitehorse. Arrived in a light rain, paid our $31cad for full hookups and got settled in. We were staying for three nights so a little kick back time was in order. Made a trip down town to Wal Mart to buy some groceries, then to the Bank of Montreal to get some cash from their ATM machine.
They are/were doing some road work on the north side of Hi Country RV, putting in a new 4 lane so lots of noise during the day but at 5 PM all got quite again. The second night we got tickets for the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Show and had a lot of fun. It is a must see in Whitehorse, IMHO. Rod and I both needed oil changes by this time of the trip so down town again we went. Got the work done at the Envirolube at 5th and Olgivie St. My cost for the diesel was $110cad and they did a very good job I felt. Checked everyting including the tire pressures. On the way back to the campground stopped at the Yukon Brewing company and made some purchases.
Hi Country is our favorite place to stay in Whitehorse, the Pioneer is also nice, but I enjoy the clean bathrooms and showers, the fast WiFi at the office, and the friendly staff. The next morning as we were getting ready to break camp, Lei noticed there was ice on their windshield. My truck thermometer was showing 32°F as we pulled out. Glad we took our warm jackets and long pants with us on the trip.
Whitehorse is always a favorite stop for us. We normally set aside one day just to visit around town, a few hours at Mac’s Fireweed bookstore, a walk along the Yukon River, stroll the shops downtown, do some shopping at one of the many fine stores in town, get any vehicle maintenance done that is needed, etc.
Got an early start out of Whitehorse, headed for Haines Junction. The road started getting rough headed north. Made it to Haines Junction and fixed breakfast. Then we headed south to Haines Alaska. It had been many years since we had driven to Haines as in 2004, Pat and I took the fast passenger ferry over to Haines from Skagway and spent the day.
The Haines Highway is one of the better drives for scenery IMHO. Lots of snow and glaciers in the mountains along the way, beautiful lakes, rivers and creeks. Many photo opps are available and the traffic was very light. Pulled into Haines after going through US Customs, somewhat a strange but very easy crossing as we found all summer. Lei had called and made reservations for us at the Ocean View RV Park in Haines so we proceeded to that location. It is on the large gravel parking lot type but the view was spectacular to say the least. Not many rigs at any of the campgrounds in town as we toured Haines the next morning before heading back north to Haines Junction. Stopped at Big Foot Auto service to buy diesel before leaving Haines and paid $3.059usd a gallon. Made it to Haines Junction, stopped at the Village Bakery to buy some sticky buns, got diesel, $1.189cad per liter at the Shell. (should have shopped around as they are high)
North of Haines Junction, the road was good till we got to the Slim’s River bridge replacement project. They moved the old bridge over to the west about 30 meters and were building a new bridge. The road on both sides for a few miles was gravel. (mud that day). Cottonwood RV was planned stop for the night, located on the shore of Kluane Lake. Cottonwood RV only takes cash, no credit cards and is very well maintained, some sites are dry, others have water and electricity (15 amp) and other just electricity. This RV park has to run generators for power but the sound is barely noticeable, has great showers included in the camping price. A very nice spot to stay. $30cad was the charge for a water and electric site for us.
Leaving Cottonwood, we knew we were in for the worst of the road conditions on the Alaska Highway due to frost heaves, etc. This section of road, Burwash Landing to the border, has always been the worst section of road in the 47 years I have been driving the Alaska Hwy. Most of the area is under laid with permafrost.
Kluane Village Wilderness RV park was closed, fall of 2006. This was always a stop for me to buy fuel, spend the night, eat a meal, etc. Not many of the old roadhouses remaining in operation. White River Crossing RV was also closed, another favorite stop for us. Made it on into Beaver Creek, filled up with fuel, stopped at Buckshot Betty’s and bought some pastries to take along with us.
The Kluane Wilderness Lodge closed in the fall of 2006. One of the larger roadhouse businesses on the Alaska Hwy. It was located on both side of the road with the motel and saloon on the east side, with the gas station, maintenance garage/shop, cafe and RV park on the west side. They always had good vehicle mechanics working there and was a year around operation. A place where I always tried to stop, fuel up, eat, and camp.
The white building below is the closed Bear Creek Lodge at Koidern, It has been closed for many years. When the Snag YT, weather station was closed in 1967/68, the buildings were soon put up for sale by the Canadian government. These buildings were purchased and moved to the current site. There is an old airstrip out back, that I have used a time or two. It was last operated, as I remember, by a retired US military couple in the early 90s, so it has been closed for many years.
The roadhouse with the old military vehicle parked in front is the White River Crossing, gas station, cafe and RV park. It appears that, as of 2011, parts of the business have reopened. (not the fuel station though) It is being advertised by a new name, Discovery Yukon Lodging, as of 2011. Not much info available on it currently.
Buck Shot Betty's Restaurant is now operating in a new building at the same general location in Beaver Creek. Good food, especially the pies. The two story building is the 1202 Lodge, the historic milepost of the business in Beaver Creek.
In Alaska: July 1, Canada Day.
Cleared US Customs, about three questions and we were handed back our passports and told to have a good trip. Sourdough RV in Tok was our stop for the night, photo below, $34usd for full hookups.
On to Fairbanks was on the agenda for the two rigs. Had called ahead to Rivers Edge RV and reserved two sites for five days. $150 for the five nights stay was the charge. Rivers Edge was somewhat a disappointment as they are deferring too much maintenance IMHO. Any RV park that gets this heavy use, has to be constantly maintained but not here. Lack of paint, rotten wood railing, flower pots not planted but setting on the deck, trash not being picked up, showers not being kept clean and the list goes on. We have stayed here at least half a dozen times on previous trips so we know what it can look like with proper care.
Got settled into our sites, made a quick run to buy supplies at Fred Meyer, drove to a car wash to get some of the mud off the camper from the construction zones we had encountered.
Then we took Rod and Lei’s Explorer to Chena Hot Springs . Lots of work continues to be done to that place, new greenhouses, new buildings, a refurbished swimming pool, etc. Good to see.
Pat and I drove to Nenana to spend July 4th at the home of some friends. Took in all the planned kid’s activities in Nenana and then had a great lunch cook out with many old friends present. We lived in Nenana for 13 years so knew many people. Both our daughters were born in Fairbanks and started their growing up in Nenana before we moved to Colorado.
The next day, Sunday, was a lazy day around the campground. The ladies drove into town to have their nails done and a pedicure.
After living in rural Alaska for over 25 years, we had never taken a ride on the Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks, so this summer the four of us, decided to go. It was outstanding and extremely well done, IMHO. An excellent presentation and highly recommended. The "unique" house boat was seen on the Chena River as we rode the riverboat.
The latest owner of the Chena Hot Springs has done an amazing amount of work on the place. For many years, while living in Nenana, we would go up for a long weekend at the place. It has been totally renovated since that time of our lives. It has new greenhouses, indoor pool, hotel rooms, electrical generation station off of the hot water, etc.
My wife and I standing in front of one of the old vehicles being used as a flower bed.
The Banana Belt of Alaska
Monday morning we departed Fairbanks, down the Parks Highway with a first stop at Mary Carey’s Place. (McKinley View Lodge) It is now run by her daughter, Jean Richardson. Business was very slow. Many Princess Tour buses on the highway but they only stop at Princess owned businesses. The same with most of the outside tour companies, doing very little to benefit the Alaska economy or locally owned businesses. The other two photos are of the congestion, now at the entrance to Denali Park, known locally as "glitter gulch."
That night found us parked at the Homestead RV in Palmer. A great place to stay and run day trips in this part of the state. One day was spent back north toward Talkeetna, up to Independence mine State Park, shopping, visiting friends, etc. Homestead RV is very nice, clean and well run. Just wish they had sewer at the sites but they do have a dump station on the way out. When in the Anchorage bowl area, this is where we now stay.
The runway below is in beautiful downtown Talkeetna. It doesn't get much use these days as there is a much nicer state maintained airport on the east side of town, where most of the commercial aircraft offer flightseeing tours.
I got a haircut next door to the local Fred Meyer store in Wasilla. Was about $5usd more than what I pay here in Stuart Florida.
Homestead RV sites only have water and electric with a dump station on the way out of the facility. Well run and well maintained. Some of the cleanest showers and restrooms we found all summer. Very good WiFi at our site for $2 a day.
We drove up to the Independence Pass Mine State Park area from the Palmer side. The road to the mine from the Willow area, on the Parks Hwy, can be very rough at times as it is gravel. The Palmer side is paved. The mine has been preserved in very good condition. Lots of history associated with the mine, plus beautiful scenery on the drive to and from the state park.
Rod and Lei still had some old friends to see so Pat and I headed south to Anchorage, some grocery shopping and on south to the Kenai. Plan was to stay at the Seward Beach City run campground which we did. Never again, too crowded and a major weekend party place for people from Anchorage. Loud drunken parties last most of the night, talking to the hosts did nothing to get it settled down.
So the next day we drove up to Stony Creek , a private RV park where we have stayed before. However their electricity was out so we drove on to Moose Pass to look around. Drove into the Trail Lake CG, run by the US Forest service and found a very nice, recently refurbished place. Made a call to Rod and Lei and let them know where we would be. Very large level sites, that can handle any size of motorhome or trailer. $18 a night charge, $9 with a Senior Citizen Golden Eagle pass (geezer card) so we stayed two nights. It sits where the Trail River flows into Kenai Lake, a beautiful spot.
While Rod and I spent the day fishing, Pat and Lei drove back into Seward and spent the day doing tourist stuff.
Off to Homer on a cool and foggy day. Tried to get a site at the Homer Spit Cg but they were full so we took out a loan and stayed at the Heritage RV Resort. $81 a night, nice with good WiFi, nice showers and laundry. No one catching any fish at the fishing hole next door either.
Starting back north at this part of the trip, bought diesel in Soldotna, $3.599 a gallon, somewhat obscene price since the fuel in refined nearby at the Tesoro Nikiski Plant.
From Anchorage to Valdez
We stopped at the Homestead RV for the second stay of the summer. Just as impressed with it as we were the first stay. Ran into a construction delay of almost an hour on the Glenn Hwy as we headed toward Glennallen. Bought fuel at the Hub of Alaska station and paid $3.779 per gallon for diesel, the highest of the trip.
The highway south toward Valdez has gotten rougher than I remember from our 2006 trip. Made it to Valdez and found the Bear Paw II park was full so we stayed at the Bear Paw in town across from the boat docks. A nice campground of the large gravel parking lot type so typical of private Alaska campgrounds. Paid for three nights of camping. The Stan Stephens, Two Glacier tour boat was on the agenda for the next day.
Got back from the boat tour about 7:30 PM and it was great as in the past. Good food served and a very knowledgeable boat captain, Amanda. Rod and I drove over to the far side of the bay and found the fish were not in due to the tide. They come in with a rising tide. So we stayed for awhile and watched a young brown bear catch salmon down by the hatchery where it is off limits to fishing.
The next day Pat and I drove over to the other side of the bay, Allison Point to check out the salmon fishing again, after checking out of the campground. The Valdez Kid’s Fishing derby had started so we went on down to the end of the road to fish. I caught a pink salmon which satisfied my needs Very few fish seemed to be in at this time. Salmon arrive when they wish to arrive. LOL We met up with Rod and Lei and after a stop at Carr’s Grocery store and Peter Pan cannery store to buy a red salmon, we all headed north toward Glennallen.
For the night, we stopped at the Eagles Trail Cg, a state place, just a few miles before we got to Tok. A very nice campground back in the trees.
Crossing back into Canada
After fuel and dumping the sewer at the Chevron Station, we headed for the customs station, east of Northway. Another non event, not even wanting to see our passports, a couple of minor questions and we were on our way. After they once scanned our passports, entering Canada the first time and tagging it to our vehicle tag numbers, they didn’t need to see them again as they had all the info on their computer screens they needed. Most of the officers, on both sides, were wearing ear pieces this summer. Someone inside the building was reading computer screens and relaying information to the outside officers talking to us. Sure speeds up the crossing process.
Pie time at Buckshot Betty’s in Beaver Creek. Then on to the rough section of highway to Burwash Landing where we stopped at Talbot Arm for fuel. Paid $1.099cad a liter of diesel, gasoline was $.20cad more. Checked out Congdon Campground and found all the lake view sites were full so drove on down the road a few miles to Cottonwood for our second stay of the summer trip. Real nice folks running it. Said it would shut down on September 1 and they would pull out to head home, Ontario, about September 15.
The next night found us back at Dawson Peaks RV and the bug problem still was there. Paid our $2cad for a shower, cooked over the open campfire and retired early. A fuel stop was in order at the Yukon Motel , Café and RV, just north of the Tetlin River bridge. Nice place. Not yet breakfast time so we scheduled the next rendezvous with Rod and Lei at the Rancheria Lodge, one of the old established lodges still remaining. The fresh baked goods were superb as were the breakfast omelets. Highly recommended place to eat.
Next stop was Junction 37 for fuel and to turn off on the Cassiar Hwy, Hwy 37. It is known by several different names, the Stewart-Cassiar, the Cassiar and I have heard it called the Dease Lake Hwy. Hwy runs for about 450 miles connection the Alaska Hwy, 13 miles north of Watson Lake on the north, to Hwy 16 in the south.
The first 40 miles or so of the Cassiar are very rough, with construction work being done and just old worn out highway. Somewhat narrow, little or no shoulder and the trees tend to be close to the highway in many places. Sections of the Cassiar have been in existence for a long time but it was only in about 1972 that all were connected to make it a completed highway. It is much more scenic, IMHO, than the Alaska Highway, less traveled and more remote. (less services)
Since it was early in the day, we just drove through Boya Lake Provincial Park (our favorite one in BC) and on south toward the town of Dease Lake. A mandatory stop at Jade City to look and buy some jade items took an hour or so of time. Just north of Dease Lake, on the shore, was a private campground, Water’s Edge, very rustic, only one out house for the campground.
Then on to Dease Lake to get fuel and to visit the deli at the crossroads store and station. The road to Telegraph Creek joins Hwy 37 at Dease Lake. Diesel was $1.059cad. On the way south we stopped at the small town of Iskut, also has fuel available and a nice village store, at Tatogga Lake Lodge for a couple of photos, at Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park, just to drive through as it was still early. The three Provincial Lake Parks on the Cassiar are absolutely beautiful, awesome in location, design and being maintained.
Bell II Lodge was the next stop for fuel and some snacks.
We all decided we wanted to stay at Meziadin Provincial Park instead of one of the private campgrounds in Stewart or Hyder. The road from Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska, Hwy 37A joins the Cassiar at Meziadin Junction (no services available anymore). The Provincial Park is just a short drive south of the junction.
The next day we all piled into Rod and Lei’s Explorer and headed for Stewart/Hyder. A couple of road construction zones, with a pilot car caused short delays for us. It started to rain as we got closer to Stewart and continued for the entire time we were there. Drove out to Fish Creek to the bear viewing platform but only saw one black bear on the road side at fish creek. Good salmon run in the creek but few bears were visiting the area from what we were told.
Drove back into Hyder to the Bus for a lunch of fish and chips. The Bus is noted for having outstanding cooking and atmosphere. Takes a while to eat here as one order at a time is prepared by the cook, due to limited kitchen size and equipment. Well worth the wait.
Back to the Canadian border crossing, the US doesn’t have one here, just a few questions and we were back in Stewart. Drove around town to check it out. Only fuel station in the area is at Stewart. Drove back to our camp sites at Meziadin Lake, no rain there which allowed us to eat out at the picnic table.
By now we were only 100 miles from the junction with Hwy 16 which would be where we split up with Rod and Lei, as we headed toward Florida and they headed toward Oregon. We took some photos around the town of Kitwanga of totems, the old bell tower and had breakfast at the café at the junction.
Said our good byes to each other and headed east toward Jasper. The Co-op grocery store in Vanderhoof loaded our camper up with a few days supply of food. The clerk at the deli counter had to help me figure out how much I wanted since everything was priced per 100 grams. Excellent deli counter and store. The only listed campground in town was Dave’s RV, about 2 km east of town. WiFi was a pay system, $3cad per day, per computer. Washer/dryer loads were $4cad for the pair. I used the system to pay our monthly bills electronically as it was a good fast connection.
The next morning we headed for Jasper, on a Saturday, not a good move on our part. The Park was full of folks over for the weekend, parking lots were full and we finally found a campsite in Yoho NP, just outside the town of Field, BC. Got a spot at Monarch Cg, next door to Kicking Horse Cg where we stayed on the way north.
From Field, it was a nice drive over to the Ice Fields Parkway and south to Banff. Took a few photos but it was hard to find a place to park. From Banff we headed east toward Calgary but turned south a few miles before and did a bypass of the city. Crossed the border at Coutts/Sweetgrass with a few questions, a quick walk around by a drug dog and we were cleared into the US.
Back into Montana
We stayed at Dick’s RV Park, just off the Interstate in Great Falls, $31.78usd for a full hookup.
Time for an oil change, so I found the quick lube place I had used before, downtown to do the work. $62 and change. We then headed east to Lewiston and then south through Roundup Montana, for Billings. From Billings it was on the Interstate for Buffalo Wyoming. It rained most of the day off and on. Buffalo had some street flooding when we arrived at the Indian Cg for the night. $34usd a night for full connections. Diesel had been running about $2.50 all day.
From Buffalo we decided to head due south to Colorado Springs and review the weather prior to deciding on a route to Florida. Stayed at the Garden of the Gods Campground in the Springs. Spent two nights in Colorado Springs, Pat’s old home town as a kid. The weather determined that we needed to stay in the middle of the country so it was back to Limon Colorado and Interstate 70 east bound. Stayed at the KOA in Lawrence Kansas.
Continued on I 70 to St. Louis Missouri, then started heading south and east. Ran into lots of road construction and traffic delays. Spent the night at the KOA Cg in Paducah. We were moving on, like horses headed to the barn. We had made 1,025 miles in two days.
The next night found us at the KOA in Forsyth Georgia, just south of Atlanta. Got an early start out of Forsyth as we were only a day’s drive from home in Stuart Florida.
Pulled into our driveway about 5 PM. Total miles for this Alaska trip was 13,097 miles, 824 gallons of diesel, two on the road oil changes and a trouble free trip with the vehicle.