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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,021

    Default Field Report: Truck Stop Parking

    Just wanted to share an experience.

    The gent in front of me at the cash register, in the truck stop in Shelby MT, simply asked where he could park his RV. The kind and helpful lady told him of a motel come RV park, not half a mile down the road. Then she turned me.

    She: Hello! How are you?
    Me: Fine thanks, I feel so full after all that lovely food in your restaurant. (I have already brought you business.)
    She: Yes, it is good, isn't it.... how can I halp you?
    Me: Elaine, I read in the trucker's directory that you allow RVs and campers (I now refer to my vehicle as a camper) to park overnight at the truck stop.
    She: That is correct.
    Me: Where shall I park?
    She: Over there (indicating) behind the pumps, or if you cross the road you will see the blue (illuminated) sign Truck Parking. Just pull in there.
    Me: Thanks! Now tell me, is there any likelyhood of the price of fuel going up overnight... I am just too tired to pump now, I'd like to leave it till the morning. (I will be giving you more business.)
    She: No! not that I have heard, you'll be fine.
    I had a great free night, simply by using a different approach and having invested in the Trucker's Directory. I thought of the gentleman at the RV park. Maybe he had heard that you could park at the truck stop, and now might be quite disillusioned.

    p.s. Met a lady yesterday who had heard of - but never visited - RTA.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-07-2009 at 09:51 AM. Reason: moved and added title

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,021

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    That's a lot closer than I'd ever want to be to a buffalo cow and calves! Those buffalo are very unpredictable. At least LifeMagician was in her car!

    Mark
    You are so right.... but there were idiots out of their cars quite nearby.

    There were so many cars parked, that I decided to pass them all and get on my way. When I saw what the attraction was, and with camera always on my wrist, I clicked that camera three times at around 15mph.... and prayed at least one would work. There was no going back for another try.

    I was pleasantly surprised with the result.

    Lifey being eaten by mosquitos in Prince George

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,021

    Default Calgary to Jasper

    Calgary

    Chose to stay two nights in Calgary, at the Flying J. Spent some time in the library, catching up on all those things which need to be attended to, most of all, had my hair done. (PNWJudy will understand!)

    Did something that last night which I have never done before... I walked out of the Flying J restaurant, and told them the service and food were so disgusting, no way was I going to pay for it... and I didn't!

    Icefields Parkway

    Was looking forward to driving the

    Icefields Parkway, as I had enjoyed it so much on that loverly [sic] day in 2004. This time I was not so lucky, the day was overcast and cloudy with

    clouds shrouding the upper peaks.

    Last time I had not had time to visit the Columbia Icefields centre, so decided to call in and have lunch. Once again, I met two lovely people, and spent far more time there than I had planned to. What surprised me is the contradiction in this centre. On the one hand, in their conservation section, they show how the

    glaciers are retreating. On the other they do little to benefit the glacier by taking vehicles and people to tramp all over them. I chose not to be part of it.

    Athabasca Falls

    In 2004 my visit was in August, and the rivers and water falls were much lower and less volumnous. This was particularly noticable when I got to

    Athabasca Falls - they were spectacular.

    It was here that I met Bob from Chicago, who was also going to Alaska solo. His wife does not like being couped up in a car. An early retiree, he was a most interesting character, and we spent quite some time sharing experiences, plans and dreams. We visited the falls together, and before I knew it, an hour had passed.. Once again, a fascinating person. Travelling is so much about the characters one meets along the way.

    Athabasca Falls Hostel, Jasper


    That night I stayed in the nearby HI Athabasca Falls Jasper Hostel. Beside the minor drawbacks that the
    water was hand-pumped from a well; no internet; and solar and generator electricity, it was a lovely, clean and comfortable place to stay for the night... right there in the forest off the Icefields Parkway. The water for washing and dishes was ingeniously placed in gerry cans with taps over the sinks. Hot water was constantly on the stove. The shower, for those who wished to avail themselves of it, was a normal camping bush shower, except that one did not have to wait for the sun to heat the water. Hot and cold water were put in the shower, giving a couple of minutes refreshment after a long dař's cycling or hiking, as some of the guests had.

    They also had the cleanest long-drop toilets I have ever seen (or smelled!).
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-14-2009 at 11:37 PM. Reason: fixed the spacing -- excellent work dropping in your photos!

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,021

    Default The Characters One Meets

    In previous posts I have mentioned some of the characters I have met along the way.... and now I have to mention some very special ones.

    In the RV park in Dawson City, where I spent just the one night, a gentleman handed me (and another camper) a small aluminium foil parcel. His wife loves baking bread, and in the parcels were two hot sourdough buns, she thought I may like. I was about to cook dinner. The sky was black, and before I could even decide what to cook, the heavens opened up. I boiled two eggs, and thouroughly enjoyed my gift. Before I had even finished that nourishing meal, she knocked on my van, and was there, in the pouring rain with a zip lock bag containing half a loaf of fresh sourdough bread and a container of butter (just in case I did not have any).

    In the rain, she rushed back to her own small RV. The rain did not stop, and was still drizzling next morning when I left, quite early. I had pulled out one of the Thank You notes I always carry and wrote her a thank you message, placed it in the zip lock bag together with the container of butter (I had my own), a souvenir key ring and my business card (free from Vista print especially made for this trip). Since it appeared that she and her husband were not yet up, I left it on the step of the van. By the time I got onto the internet the next night, there was a very friendly email from the lady who loves to bake bread and share it around.

    And then there is the lovely lady from Calgary who is staying at the hostel in Fairbanks, where I am. This is her first visit to Alaska. She has already completed the Alaska Highway, being down to Seward and Homer. Has taken the boat trip to the glaciers and watch the whales. Now she is in Fairbanks and heading for the Top of the World Highway and Dawson City.... and maybe more!

    This lovely lady is driving a van similar to mine, complete with mattress, sleeping bag, pillow, Coleman stove, etc., and stops mostly at State Parks coming into a hostel only when she wants a warm shower. Like myself, she is travelling alone and has had car problems. Her transmission went in Whitehorse. Luckily, it was fixed in a day. And like myself, has been told by family and friends that her pursuit of her dreams is foolhardy.

    This beautiful woman is 75 years young!

    Lifey full of admiration for her courage and determination

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,934

    Default Nice story.

    This is one of the reasons that we love the RV/ camping lifestyle for the friendly good natured people we meet along the way. Of course there are friendly good natured people everywhere but you don't get the same opportunity's to interact with each other from the comfrort of your Motel room etc.


    Mmmmmmm.. Sourdough. Yummy !

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,021

    Default The Alaska Highway

    By the time I got to Dawson Creek, I swear I had spent more time behind a pilot car than a racing driver would in his whole career. The Yellowhead Hwy between Jasper and Prince George was by far the worst. It completely spoiled the enjoyment of beauty in that area and the joy from the drive.

    Dawson Creek was the start of the many goals I had for up north... and chief of these was to drive the Alaska Highway at an enjoyable, leisurely pace.







    Of course in Dawson Creek the emphasis is completely focused on the Alaska Highway Milepost '0'.

    I even stayed at the Milepost '0' campground and RV park. I recalled having stayed there in 2004, and it was just as great as I recalled. It was amazing how one met the same people at the RV parks along the way.

    Initially my plan had been to photograph and document as many of the original and historic mileposts as possible.



    However, I gave up on that idea after only a few. Had to keep my concentration on my driving. I could not even find them using the directions in the Milepost.



    Soon I came to the sign which pointed the way, via a small detour from the current road, to the historic curved bridge...





    the only original bridge from the original highway which is still in use. Such a magnificent structure. I tried to photograph it from every angle, but the banks were very steep and discretion prevailed.

    Then for the second time since leaving Boston, I was rewarded for doing the trip early in the season. The wildlife along the way was prolific. In August 2004 all I had seen was one moose.

    The first sight I came upon was a rather curious moose.

    Then, not much further along I slowed for several stationary vehicles.

    There was a black bear feeding by the side of the road, minding its own business, and not at all concerned about the attention it was attracting.

    When the vehicles moved off the sound of the engines must have startled the bear, as it turned and headed for the trees. Soon it turned and headed back to the patch where it was feeding. By now, I had moved into a good position to view it.

    This photowas taken (through the passenger window) with camera in one hand, and the other hand on the button to raise the window, should it decide it wanted a ride to somewhere. I had heard that they can be very agile.

    I think it was at the rustic and dusty campground in Ft Nelson that I was saddened to overhear a conversation in the restrooms. Two ladies were talking about their trip, when I heard one announce that it was such a tedious road. I felt that this lady had missed the whole point of traveling this great road.

    For most of my time on this magnificent highway I could not help but reflect on the work which went into it... the men who worked on it. They did not have a magnificent road to bring in all their supplies, nor the magnificent log homes and cabins one sees today. I tried to imagine how they managed in their makeshift accommodation with their primitive facilities, in this wilderness.

    In the time it took to build they would have had to face and battle rain and snow, raging rivers in spring, wildfires in summer not to mention the wildlife through whose territory this road is carved. They must have had to blast their way through solid rock and glacier moraines, bridged some seven dozen waterways and scale steep grades... not like the road driven today, mostly flattened out.

    I wondered if lives were lost building this road... and how many? This dirt road which snaked up and down the many hills and mountains enroute... dust in summer; mud in the wet; iced in winter How often were vehicles and machinery bogged? snowed under? slide off the frozen road?

    Are any of these men still alive? It is quite feasible. Have they traveled the modern highway? Would any of these men ever have dreamt that their sweat would open up the north to holiday makers, adventurers and businesses alike? Could they have imagined the many settlements and communities which have sprouted along the way? Would they ever have realized the environmental degradation created by the careless and the selfish?

    A tedious road??

    Driving the Alaska Highway is a life changing experience for those who care to reflect on the magnificent highway it is. As I am sure it must have been for those brave souls who toiled almost seven decades ago so that I today may enjoy the magnificent North.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-18-2009 at 11:51 PM. Reason: converted to images for viewing on this page

  7. Default

    LM, All I can say is that I am envious. Nothing else.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,102

    Default Almost all are gone now....

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Initially my plan had been to photograph and document as many of the original and historic mileposts as possible.
    There are new ones along most stretches of the Canadian provinces, but I believe that 100% of the original mileposts were pretty much removed in 1975. In 1992, the Canadian government installed new signs at more-or-less the original mile post locations. I'm not sure of the status of any remaining mile post signs in Alaska....

    Mark

  9. #29

    Default The building of the Alcan Highway

    Hello Lifey,

    Like our friend dinesh75 said above, I am quite envious of your journey on the Alaska Highway, not to mention the Dalton (Haul Road). Only I really, really want to drive the Haul Road myself. But I digress.

    There are surely survivors among the tens of thousands of men who built what was then called the Alcan. Like other WWII veterans, they're on average in their middle 80s today. The most often quoted figure here in the States is that we're losing our WWII vets, who numbered +5 million in uniform in 1945, at the rate of around 1,000 each day. Sobering.

    Anyway, the Internet is chockablock full of sites with Alcan construction history, and the History Channel and the Military Channel have each featured Alcan construction episodes in documentary form. One of the more interesting facts concerning its construction, at least to me, is that our still-segregated US Army deployed whole units of African-American engineering specialists on the job. Large-scale deployment of African-Americans as purely combat troops simply didn't take place in the early 1940s, so most were engaged in support roles. Using only recollection of my reading/viewing, I'd say the African-Americans represented a majority of the manpower.

    Again using only recollection, I'll say casualties were most certainly incurred. There's just not much chance that that many men, performing risky work with equipment now considered quite primitive, could toil for so many months without fatalities and serious injury.

    The veterans groups composed of those who built the Alcan have websites and innumerable pictures and much in the way of text on their accomplishments are available for your viewing pleasure.

    Enjoy the ride!

    Foy

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,021

    Default Along the Alaska Highway

    Wildlife

    The leg from Ft Nelson to Watson Lake was possible the most prolific as far as wildlife is concerned. It was before 7am when I headed out of Ft Nelson, fresh from a good night's sleep, satisfied after a hearty bowl of cereal and with a full tank of fuel.

    Even before I reached Summit Lake

    with the morning mist still on the mountains the day promised to be a great day. There by the roadside were three Stone Mountain sheep grazing. I slowed and approached as quietly as I possibly could, but they rushed up the rocky hillside, and camouflaged ever so well.


    As the sunshine warmed and bathed the Rockies, not much further on

    three caribou were on the road

    licking at something which pleased them. They seemed quite used to the traffic, staying right where they were until I stopped, right in the middle of the road. I was there for quite some time, taking many photos.


    Next I came upon a upon a small heard of what I was told are Dall Sheep.


    As I rounded the corner, there was a car parked right in the middle of the road. I was not driving fast, but still had to brake really hard not to hit him and/or the sheep. Fortunately I missed both.

    As I was enjoying this beatiful part of the world, much of the time as a solitary traveller on this much travelled highway, I came upon several dozen bison... all males... feeding on the side of the road.


    They were not perturbed by the attention.

    Apparently the Canadian Bison is not the same as the bison found in and around Yellowstone. I read in the visitor centre in Watson Lake that there are estimated to be around 200 left in the wild, and on average 20 are killed by motorists every year. Drive Slowly!

    Muncho Lake

    And then came Muncho Lake.... and time for a break!


    As I saw on a T-shirt: a jpg. is worth a thousand txts.

    Liard Hot Springs

    This was possibly my greatest disappointment of the whole trip. When I passed here in 2004, I parked in the turnout, walked the boardwalk and came to the spings. Primitive change rooms allowed one to change in privacy and jump in and enjoy the hot springs. It was a delight to behold, and I was so looking forward to it. Not having brought a bathing costume, I had stopped at Goodwill to buy some cheap shorts and a top.

    And now I arrived at the Liard Hot Springs, there was a mansion across the road, a gateway to the springs, with a gate keeper and all other sorts of infrastructure. I was then asked for $5... no doubt to help pay their mortgage. I was in utter shock!

    These springs which have been there since time immemorial, which have been enjoyed by thousands of travellers up and down the highway have been hijacked by the greed of, I know not who. They were fine as they were. All the infrastructure is supurfluous. None of it adds to the enjoyment of the refreshing (and maybe healing) waters from deep down within the earth. They were free for anyone to walk into and enjoy. Needless to say, it is no longer possible to camp there either... they want money for that as well.

    I made it quite clear that I had no intention to contribute even one cent to this vandalism and went on my way.

    Wildfires

    My next disappointment was the Smith River Falls, the road to which was closed due to fires. Once again it was a pilot car which saw us through the many miles of the highway which had been affected by these wildfires.

    It was well and truly lunch time, but in this smokey atmosphere I was loathe to stop for lunch, so it was not untill well after Contact Creek that I chanced upon a rest area, and decided to make some lunch. While waiting for the kettle to boil I wandered around the area, only to discover that I had stopped at historic mile post 585, right on the border of the Yukon Territory and British Columbia.


    Watson Lake

    This great little place, even in these remote parts, is able to give travellers their free wifi. Both the library (at which I had checked my email in 2004) and the Camping Services campground (where I had stayed) offered free wifi. At the visitor centre I kicked myself for forgetting to bring an old street sign from home.

    This forest of signposts and city and street names gets a lot of attention... and basically is a whole lot of fun.

    Next it was on to Whitehorse. I resolved to try and catch up on a little time, and just drive straight there, which is exactly what I did. As a matter of interest I would count all the vehicles I saw on the road.

    During those five hours I counted just over 150 cars/motor homes/trucks; seven motorcycles and five cyclists... or a vehicle every two minutes or so, for the five hours I was on the road. It made me think of posts from members who still think of this road and trip as something rare. There is absolutely nothing remote about the Alcan.

    Opportunities to enjoy and reflect without other traffic around, are few and far between.

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