Friday, June 24, 2011

Heading to Whitehorse

Tuesday we drove from Grand Prairie, AB to Fort Nelson, BC. Along the way we took my friend Susan Davidson's advice and stopped in Dawson Creek, BC to tour the Alaska Highway House. This is a free museum "which showcases the Alaska Highway, from its inception after the bombing of Pearl Harbour and the Japanese invasion of Attu and Kiska islands in Alaska's Aleutians, through its construction in 1942-43, to its role today as a vital transportation route to the North and the driving adventiure of a lifetime." It really gave us an appreciation of what an amazing job these guys did in completing this very long road in 8 months time.

We then headed out for the adventure. The scenery was beautiful and we were really enjoying the drive until late in the day when we once again we had to drive in rain. The farther we drove, the fewer places there were to stop for gas, etc. This reminded me that Susan had said to keep an eye on the gas gauge and always be aware of how far it would be before the next opportunity to fill or top off the tank. About 40 miles from Fort Nelson, we saw what we thought was a long legged cat slowly walking across the road. We slowed down and just as it crossed the road and turned back to look at us, we realized that it was a lynx. That was quite a thrill! Of course, I did not have the camera handy.

When we arrived in Fort Nelson, it was still raining so we did not get a workout. That was OK with me because I had run 9 straight days. I am finding that after being in the truck for so many hours, I really do want to run. While I am getting my mileage up, my speed is slowing down significatly. That was my plan for the trip---to work on my running base and try to get my weekly mileage up to about 30 and then work on speed. So far, it is working. On Wednesday, we drove from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake, YT. We had only driven about 30 miles when we saw a black bear and two cubs. Then, about 30 miles on up the road we spotted a sow and three cubs. Once again, I did not have the camera at the ready. Hopefully, I am learning my lesson. Later, I did get a picture of a black bear feeding on the roadside. Our total wildlife sightings for the day consisted of a moose, several elk, about 35 bison, several deer, and quite a few stone sheep. The wildest sighting was not animal, but was four naked boys/men frolicking in Summit Lake. I can't imagine how cold that must have been.

We arrived in Watson Lake early enough to work out. I ran 6.25 miles and walked 1.5 miles. Then, we walked down to Watson Lake Signpost forest which contains more than 62,000 signs which tourists have been leaving since the completion of the highway. This forest is like a maze, with fencing to which all these town/city signs, license tags, homemade and professionally made family sigans, and whatever aother kind of sign you can imagine have been attached.

Running/walking is a very good way to see these towns, but I do have to be very careful. After I finished my run, I was going to do my cool down walk in the signpost forest. Twice I had a drunk or otherwise scary person attempt to engage me in conversation. There were a few other people around, but I decided to come back later with Hollie. When we made it back, those same two guys were attempting to engage other people. They were just plain scary.

Something that we noticed on this leg of the trip was how many roadside businesses are closed. There weren't that many to begin with, but over the years, as autos are more able to go greater distances, many of those which were once essential are now closed. When we pass a place with gas, people are lined up. No one wants to run out of gas on this highway. Another observation is how many people are doing cycling/camping trips on this road. We saw some who were so loaded down that I doubt I could have ridden any distance without the packs. We saw one solo female out in the middle of no where. Later when we stopped at a service station we were talking to some people from Indiana that we've leap frogged with for two days. They told us they stopped the woman to tell her about a bear that was just up the road. On way would I be camping on this road. I'm sure she was going to camp because she was not near any loding.

Yesterday we made it to Whitehorse and boondocked with 40-50 other RVs. We will stay again tonight and maybe another night. I'll try to post a summery later this evening.

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