My blog about knitting, teaching, and being a mother to two energetic young boys.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

There's No Place Like Home...

10,862 miles and 6 weeks later, we've returned home to Anchorage, AK. We had a fabulous trip - no complaints - no major catastrophes - sanity and health intact. I'd say the AK to CA Road Trip of 2007 was a total success. But - there's no place like home. :-)

Gosh - it seems like forever since I've had the opportunity to post. I know several people were wondering where we were since several places through which we traveled had neither internet availability nor cell-phone service. We returned home late Tuesday evening - just in time to post my July socks for the SAM3 (ended 7/31). :-) I haven't had a chance to sit down to blog since when you return home after 6 weeks of traveling - there tends to be lots of stuff to get done like: unpacking, laundry, unpacking, laundry, unpacking, vacuuming the gazillion tons of dog hair, and did I mention - unpacking & laundry?

I have a bit of time (before the next load of laundry is ready to fold - I really hate folding laundry) to do some 'catch up'. I think I'll first post our return & then do some 'back-dating' blogging recounting our adventures since we left Oregon on July 24.

Friday - July 27: Cheechako Ranch, OR to Merritt, B.C. - 585 miles.
This also happened to be my 11th wedding anniversary to Wade - nothing says romance like driving 585 miles. Nice drive north. We decided to take Hwy 97 north & enter Canada via Oroville, rather than driving toward Seattle to meet up w/Hwy 5 & enter via Bellingham. We figured we'd have hit some heavy traffic in Seattle on a Friday afternoon.

Pretty uneventful drive - other than having to give up some wonderful fresh peaches we'd picked while in Oregon. Border patrol wouldn't let us bring them across for fear we'd also bring in unwanted insects. Go figure that as soon as you cross the border there are acres of fruit orchards & a ton of fruit stands. Yeah - they know everyone coming across had to give up any fruit they had. What a racket!

We camped in a town RV park near a sawmill that ran all night. Fortunately we were tired enough that the noise didn't keep us awake.

Saturday - July 28 - Merritt, B.C. to Burns Lake, B.C. - 505 miles
The plan was to drive West & take Hwy 37 - otherwise known as the Cassiar Hwy - north & intersect the Alaska Hwy near Watson Lake at the border of British Columbia & the Yukon Territory. We figured we'd already driven the Alaska Hwy from Dawson Creek, so we wanted to avoid a total backtrack in order to see new territory.

All was going swimmingly - gas & Starbucks coffee in Prince George, a beautiful drive West on the Yellowhead Hwy (#16) & a quick dinner at a nice rest area outside Burns Lake which is 150 miles west of Prince George & about 100 miles from the junction of the Cassiar Hwy. Ever heard of "The Best Laid Plans..."? Yeah - funny how plans change.

We chatted w/a couple who had also stopped at the rest area & were headed toward Jasper. They asked the normal questions "Where are you from? Where are you going? etc." great conversations w/fellow travelers. When we mentioned we were headed back to Alaska via the Cassiar, they told us they had seen a sign saying the highway was closed. CLOSED!

So - imagine instead of 'South' the sign says 'North'. Arghh - we never actually saw the closed sign for heading North - we turned around before then. However - two days later when we drove by the junction for the Cassiar heading south - we saw this sign:
Now - call me crazy, but don't you think it'd be kind of thoughtful to put a sign like this near a large city like Prince George where you then have an option of taking a different highway north? Why wait until the actual junction - so you can watch frustrated motorists turn around in a huff and then backtrack 200 miles to Prince George & then take a different route? I know you might think - well, perhaps you should have checked the internet, or called the phone number. Sure - if we'd had internet connection or cell phone service - or quite honestly, if we'd have thought there was even a remote chance this highway would be closed. I mean - it's a highway - for crying out loud. They are usually open. Wade & I drove the Cassiar back in 1993 after we'd graduated from college. Certainly after 14 years the highway would have been in better condition? Cause for closure: a land slide from heavy rains took out the highway.

Sunday - July 29 - Burns Lake, B.C. to slightly north of Fort Nelson, B.C. - 686 miles
Since we had to drive back through Prince George (again) to head toward the Alaska Hwy (which originates in Dawson Creek - 250 miles northeast of Prince George) we had some miles to make up. The upside? Another coffee in Prince George. I think I now know where all Starbucks locations are in that city.

We did pass this yarn shop along the highway -But alas - as you can see - it was closed on Sunday. Darn.... Can't say we didn't try. :0)

So - with 300 miles to make up (Prince George to Burns Lake roundtrip is 300 miles) we decided to put the pedal to the metal & drive, drive, drive. We stopped briefly in Fort St. John (The Energetic City) for gas, eat dinner (pb&j and some ramen) and run around a bit.
This is a sculpture of a bear that won a welding contest back in 2004. We thought it was pretty neat. The park was beautiful & located next to their community recreation pool & curling club. I guess we can see why Fort St. John is called The Energetic City - they keep active!

Then we drove to Fort Nelson - another 4 hours away - if I recall since it was my turn to drive. The drive was nice & the sun was actually shining. Much of our drive through Canada looked like this:Mrs. Q refers to this part of Canada as "The Wet Coast" - she isn't kidding! After we rolled into Ft. Nelson around 11:00 pm for gas, we decided perhaps we should find a place to sleep. My suggestion of saying the heck with rearranging all of our crap (pardon me - after 6 weeks - you have lots of crap) so we could pull out the seat for our bed, and just check into the Motel 8 that was across the street from the gas station. Wade would have nothing of that, so on we went. We pulled over in a large turnout (found from the wonderful Milepost) & joined three other campers to sleep for the night. The accommodations might not be 5 star, but you can't beat the price.

Monday - July 30 - Ft. Nelson, B.C. to slightly east of Whitehorse, Y.T. - 526 miles
Up at 8:20 a quick breakfast and then back on the road by 9 am. Surprisingly - the other campers were already gone. Perhaps they know something we didn't about pulling over on the side of the highway to sleep. Is there a certain check-out time from gravel pullouts?

Since we were traveling along familiar territory again - we stopped at Liard Hot Springs for a quick soak in the hot pools and some lunch and some coffee. Although we weren't happy about the additional 300 miles the Cassiar closure added to our trip, Liard Hot Springs is a great stop. The boys could have played in the pools for hours and were sad that we weren't camping there as we did on our drive south. We promised we would return again some day.

Another exciting day of driving. However, this time - when we stopped in Watson Lake for gas (the ceiling that was caving in in the bathroom of the gas station was now totally gone), it wasn't raining, so we stopped and walked through sign post forest. According to the Milepost (a must have if you plan on ever driving to or from Alaska!) there are over 61,000 signs in the forest. Next time perhaps we'll plan ahead & have a sign ready to put up.

The Alaska Hwy also affords several opportunities to view wildlife from the comfort and safety of your car. We saw another black bear munching away on the greenery alongside the highway:We also finally saw the herds of buffalo signs kept warning would be on the road. On our trip south, we saw One lone buffalo - certainly not worthy of the numerous signs warning of their existence (I was beginning to question their existence). This time around we saw a few, and then as we came around a bend - whamo - a herd of buffalo! We imagine we saw at least 100 hanging out alongside the highway. It seems that between the time we drove south & now, babies had been born - they are actually pretty cute!We did see another large brown bear, but we were driving too fast to slow down & stop to take a photo. When we did stop, the bear decided to run off into the trees. Trust me, it was big!

We camped in another gravel pull out east of Whitehorse near the Yukon river.

Tuesday - July 31 - Whitehorse, Y.T. to Anchorage, AK, U.S.A. - 724 miles
Yes - you've read that correctly, we drove 724 miles in one day w/two children in the car. 9:04 am: Another tank of gas and coffee from Starbucks (there are 4 in Prince George & 1 in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory) we were ready to roll. As we put it "We could smell the barn". What do children do, do you ask when you drive for so long?

They sleep...
They play catch with a football while you're waiting at construction near Kluane Lake:

Love the form! Future NFL quarterback?

The Kluane Range is in the background. Wade is trying to intercept the ball...

And... you brush up on your map reading skills to make sure your parents really know where they are going...When you arrive at the Canada/Alaska border, right before you pass through customs, there is a rest area where you can view a swath of trees cut to show the border. You can also stand on a bench and straddle two countries! How cool is that?

Here I am - my right foot (on left side of photo) is in Alaska, U.S.A. and my left foot (right side of photo) is in the Yukon Territory, Canada!

One minute I'm in Alaska....

The next I'm in Canada!
It is 421 miles from the border to Anchorage. We could do it! We filled up w/gas twice more & continued on. We were able to reach our home at 10:15 pm (11:15 pm Canada time (PST)) - just a mere 14 hours after we left Whitehorse! If Wade had even suggested early on in this trip that we'd drive from Anchorage to Whitehorse on our first day, I'd have said he was nuts. But - when you hear the siren call of your own bed, shower, and home - the force is strong. When we were driving past Eagle River (20 minutes north of our house) we joked that we couldn't make it & would need to pull over and camp for the night. Nahh....

For any die hard knitters who've actually read this epic post - I did accomplish some knitting along the way:These are the Embossed Leaves sock - complete. I had finished the first sock during our stay at Liard Hot Springs on our drive down. Yarn: Regia silk (lost the ball band, so can't give the exact colorway), Needles: Size 2 Addi Turbo magic loop. I LOVE this pattern & the yarn is so soft. I think I'll need to buy a new pair of shoes to show off these socks. :0) I also almost finished my monkey socks - I have one more repeat & the toe to complete before they're finished & given to a friend.

Grand Totals for the AK to CA road trip 2007:

Total Mileage Traveled: 10,862

Total Gallons of Gas Used: 548.713 ( I did convert between litres & gallons while in Canada)

Total Cost of Gas: $1989.51 (This is an approx. since some of the cost was incurred in Canada & I'm not quite sure of the conversion rate)

Average Gas Mileage for the 2003 Eurovan: 19.95 mpg

Days Gone: 47

Spending Quality Time and Adventures with Family: PRICELESS!!

Well - time to fold the laundry...



Holly Jo said...

What an incredible trip! Good memories for sure. Enjoy a couple of quiet weeks before school starts. :)

Fitknitmom said...

Welcome back! And what wonderful weather you came home to as well! The socks look great. I've been checking your blog, wondering where you were. Good luck with the laundry and hopefully we'll see you soon! (Maybe we should meet at a park, the boys can play and we can knit)

AfternoonMoon said...

I caught your blog from the sockKAL3 and can't pass up posting on another AKknitters site. Yes, awesome socks. DH's hometown is just outside of Portland, so we go down frequently (and I stop in for more fibers {saves on shipping: as I sell the idea of just one more LYS before dinner out}.

tiennieknits said...

Wow to your trip! And wow for your socks!