Well, first of all, we’re officially back in the United States and we’ve accomplished one of our life goals! We’ve driven ALL 1422 miles of the Alaska Highway! But before I get way too far ahead of myself, let me reminisce, briefly, on how we made it this far. (I couldn’t fill you in as we were driving because we didn’t have any internet, gosh darn it all!)
We knew when we left Dawson Creek last Wednesday we would only drive about 75 miles to Fort St. John, BC because we had a birthday to celebrate! Sienna turned 8, and I didn’t think it would be an awesome 8th birthday if we spent it driving, so we planned to spend the day somewhere we could do something more fun. Like camp by a beautiful lake (Charlie Lake), eat delicious pizza and ice cream, open presents, and then go swimming at an amazing indoor swimming pool with 2 water slides! I’d say it was a pretty great way for a person to welcome in their 8th year of life!
And with that, we were on the road again. Little did we know, but the most beautiful part of the drive was just around the bend. All the guide books should say, “Just pack everything you need and only stop for gas until you get to Fort Nelson, BC.” No offense to any Canadians living anywhere else along the Alaska Highway before Fort Nelson, it just turned out to be more canola fields and natural gas mining than we had anticipated. BUT, once we got to Fort Nelson….everything got much better! As in, we saw about 20 more black bears! And several herds of stone sheep! And lots of bison!
496 miles later, we made it to Liard Hot Springs, BC. This place was like an oasis, literally. All the heat from the geothermal activity allowed 14 species of orchid to grow, in a region that is otherwise dominated by hardy plants that will only survive in vast amounts of snow. Sadly, we didn’t get to see one of their famed moose. But we did enjoy 2 lovely swims in their sulfurous waters, the kids chatted up everyone who would talk to them, and we camped for the night in their lovely provincial campground.
Our camper smelled like sulfur water for a couple of days after that stop, but it was well worth it! And while I think we could have enjoyed the location for much longer, we still had another 1,000 miles of road ahead of us, so onward we drove. The road became much more remote at this point, and finally began to look like what we had imagined it would. Trees, miles of asphalt, and the occasional wild animal (although I STILL haven’t seen a moose or a caribou…I constantly have my eyes peeled for both of those creatures!) We spent 2 full days on the road,
being tortured by listening to Minecraft music to pass the time. Thanks Keeney Family!) We made a quick stop at Watson Lake, BC to see the Sign Post Forest, which was started by a GI who helped build the Alaska Highway.
I guess we should have been a little more prepared! Every other sign was made of wood or metal…but we left our sign, and kept on driving. Our next big destination was the Canadian-US border, where once again, I had to surrender a dozen eggs, and I almost had to give up apples and chicken (but the border inspection agent was MUCH more forgiving this time! However, you’d think I would have learned my lesson the 1st time, right?! Apparently, I’m a slow learner!)
We visited the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge just outside of Tok, Alaska. A wonderful Athabaskan woman who was volunteering at the visitor center there helped me learn to pronounce that town’s name correctly, so I’ll help you too! Say it like this “Toke”. The Refuge is 720,000 acres and provides refuge for birds that travel all the way to South America. Phew, I thought we travelled a long way! And, it’s the 2nd smallest refuge in Alaska! They say things are big in Texas, but I think Alaska has them beat!
Next up, Delta Junction, mile 1422, and the official end of the Alaska Highway!
We opted to continue driving on to Fairbanks, where we could pick a base camp to explore for several days. So, that’s where we are now. We’re camping along the Chena River and loving the Land of the Midnight Sun!
See you after the next adventure!!