Friday, August 1, 2014

Deja Vu Dawson Creek

     Alas, we have re-arrived at Dawson Creek, Mile 0 of the Alaskan Highway.  It did seem like a much longer haul in return as the seasons have changed as well as traffic and hazards.  We departed Dawson City on July 28th, Day 1, traveling south 300 miles to Whitehorse.  We were stop and go driving most of the day due to road construction.  Little did we know this would not be the last time.  Unfortunately, our trip was a bit marred by tragedy as about 30 miles north of Whitehorse we were stopped in traffic just 12 cars behind a tragedy.  Another driver mistakenly judging distance passed one too many cars and cut the last one off far too short.  That driver braked, the driver behind him plowed into him, and they both careened off the road down a steep embankment near a lake.  We were in line for 2 hours before conditions allowed us through.  Not till the next day did we know that 2 of the 3 people involved in the rollovers perished and the 3rd was taken to the hospital in serious condition.  The driver that cause this entire mess............never stopped.  We spent night #1 in the WalMart parking lot in Whitehorse.
     Days #2 and 3 were fairly uneventful except for more road work.  I was particularly proud to have gassed up prior to Muncho Lake (where I paid a King's Ransom on the way up).  I felt particularly proud of that and did honk and wave at the gas station on the way past......(just honking and waving.  Barb wouldn't let me do any more). 

     We spent the night at the top of Stone Mountain Provincial Park at Summit Lake.  This is a park we saw on our way through the first time, but it was still snowed in and the lake frozen.  We got a beautiful spot by the creek and the lake.  We did see several bands of Stone Sheep, but unfortunately Barb was not fast enough on the camera.  Fast little devils!  Although this campground was no frills I was particularly impressed with the Compostable Toilet they had on site.  Powered by solar, this unit is designed to stimulate bacteriological growth in order to convert human waste into compostable material.  This has a completely ZERO IMPACT on the surrounding ecosystem! 

     Days #4 and 5 resulted in our arrival back at Dawson Creek, MILE ZERO, and a welcome 3 day respite from the rigors of travel to recharge and relax.  The most and lengthiest construction of the entire trip is from Watson Lake to Fort Nelson with 2 sections involving many miles of gravel and 30 minute delays.  This can involve gravel, dust, more dust, more gravel, and some oil (Polyseal) and then even some more dust and gravel. 
     You gotta love irony.  As we headed down the last stretches of the ALCAN into Dawson Creek today a very large dual tanker truck labled Aggressive Energy passed us in (of course) a no passing zone.  We just turned off the cruise control, laughed, and resumed our trip when he sped on, presumably to hell.  Arriving at Mile Zero RV Park in Dawson Creek we opted to dump prior to parking.  When we arrived at the dump station we both looked at each other and laughed out loud at the sign next to the station.   You gotta ask yourself, "Use hoses?.... is this a problem?!?!"

LESSONS LEARNED:  We traveled much shorter distances each day on the way back, 1220 miles in 5 days.  We boondocked at WalMart and stayed at Canadian Provincial Parks.  These parks are a real bargain.  $12-16 a night and they have fire rings, water pumps, and firewood (sometimes free).   We found that on the way up RV parks can be fairly expensive and not necessary unless you need service.  Most are upwards of $35 a night.  Reservations are probably not needed, but $$ is.  Road construction kicks into VERY HIGH GEAR later in the summer so be prepared for delays (some very long).   Be prepared for a dirty vehicle/trailer combination.  I washed my truck/RV 3 times on the highway back, but will still need another one before our departure from here.  Most of the mud is due to the Polyseal they are using to coat and seal the newly laid gravel over the current highway before they build the new highway.  It is a yearly process, I am sure.  DO NOT spare the time to stop and smell the Fire Weed.  When it is in full bloom it is a beautiful light purple grove that carpets the margins of the entire ALCAN Highway.

SUMMARY:  We will depart Dawson Creek in a couple of days after we relax, shop a bit, and thoroughly clean the RV/truck inside and out.  Our itinerary now takes us down the east slope of the Rockies through Alberta as we visit Jasper, Banff, and Lake Louise Provincial Parks. 

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