Saturday, 13 July 2013

The Alcan - here we come!

Driving to Grande Cache the weather definitely improved. Sunny and low 20’s C. When we got to Grand Prairie it was 29C. The Australian sheepskin boots I got from Costco can go back into the cupboard for a while longer. We are back in shorts and t-shirts. We did our washing and stocked up on groceries as we know it’s going to get more expensive as we go north. I have read that Alaska will be fifty to a hundred percent more expensive than the states.

When Lindsay said the sewer hose was going to live in the back of the truck I expressed my concerns. No-one is going to take a sewer line I was told. No? well, they either did, or it was left behind somewhere. Luckily John from Queensland was with Lindsay when he was dumping, so he was able to use his hose. His wife and I were in the Visitor centre using the internet. I had a bill to pay, some money to transfer and emails to reply to.  As Kay said, you might be on holidays but you still have work to do. We found a few places where we might buy another hose but thought we would check out Walmart first as Kay said she saw an RV section. We got the last one there. Imagine if we weren’t near a large town to be able to buy a new one, we’d really be in the shit!

Driving into Walmart we noticed another Montana in the carpark, same model as ours. Lindsay decided to ask him if he knew how the TV aerial worked as he had unsuccessfully tried ours the night before. It turns out that Canada transmits on a different frequency to the US. So no TV here for us. But interestingly a few months later when we were in Port Angelses, WA we got Canadian reception from across the water!

The other Montana and the Queenslanders are going to Alaska too. I’ve read that most of the traffic from now on will be RV’s heading to Alaska. The other absolute is that there will be delays due to road construction; we have just stopped for the fourth time this morning on our way from Grande Prairie to Dawson Creek.

In Dawson Creek we watched a documentary on the making of the Alaskan Highway. It was originally built as a military road back in the forties to guard against Japanese attack during WWII. Both the USA and Canada paid for it to be built, but there has been much debate over the years as to who should be responsible for the maintenance and upgrading. We took our photo at the site of the original Mile 0. The new post is further into town but we missed it. We got a list of campgrounds and gas stations showing what type of fuel and what facilities the campgrounds offer which should be useful over the next week or so.

We have crossed into British Columbia today so are back on Pacific time, though a number of communities don’t observe day light saving so are still on Mountain time; the old milking the cows at the right time thing presumably. We are going to change our watches anyway; well I would if I could find where I put it.

In Fort St John, we met up with John and Kay from North Queensland again and found out over drinks that they have been to most of the places that we have in the Australian outback.

We have an electronic copy of the MilePost which is the Alaskan Highway bible. So I’ve been reading the bits on the towns out loud as we drive along. I’ve also copied a blog off Trip Advisor, which was recommended to us to see what they did as well. We also picked up another pamphlet on the Alaskan highway I really like. The highway used to be called the Alcan Highway and I didn’t realise what that meant until I saw it written as AlCan and realised that was an acronym for Alaskan/Canadian.

We set off for Fort Nelson quite early as our body clocks were still on Alberta time.

At a rest stop along the road, we met up with the other “Montana” couple from Oregon again and their friends who were travelling in an RV. At 7am that morning a class C motorhome was left in gear and ran up the back of the RV, bending all the hydraulic jacks as well as smashing the rear of the coach. They couldn’t lift the jacks, which meant they were stuck and were waiting for the insurance engineer to arrive to disconnect the hydraulics. Makes our sewer line theft seem pretty insignificant.

We had a number of steep inclines and declines after Fort St John and that really chewed the fuel up. One decline had a 9% fall, which is very steep and even though we used the jack brake on the engine, our truck brakes really stank afterwards. We did an extra fill up at a place called Pink Mountain. While waiting to pay for our fuel there an old man ahead of Lindsay that said in a slow drawl to the lady “it’s too hot for me to go outside today”. The cat must have thought so too as he was sitting in the refrigerator behind the counter. When Lindsay pointed him out to me, I said naah, it’s not real “Yes it is” he said. After I walked out, apparently he got up, walked around in a circle and settled back down again. Needless to say there weren’t many drinks in the ’fridge and he had the whole bottom shelf to himself. Outside it was only 24C!

We were heading for Muncho Lake today but decided to stop the night on an abandoned emergency air-strip where we had lunch. It started raining in the afternoon and got heavier as the night went on. Lindsay thought about moving the trailer off the grass/mud but didn’t until we went to bed. Lying there he thought that we could be stuck here for a few days. So in the dark pouring rain, he managed to hook the trailer onto the truck and turn it around with all the slides still out and had us back on the gravel, not that far from nearby bushes. For his efforts he got massacred by the mozzies. Well done, but next time I think we should bring the slides in, okay? Where was I? … oh, still in bed.

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