Day Three: Dawson Creek, The Old Curved Bridge, Finally the AlCan.

Before I left on this trip, I was teasing Dawn by asking her, if she wasn’t with me, how would I know when I was wrong? She and I have agreed that this is her primary job in our relationship – to point out when I am mistaken. It’s work she enjoys, and she’s good at it. The answer to what I had intended as a rhetorical question is, she can catch mistakes in this blog.

Yesterday, I figured out what the actual price of gas was here in Canada. It turned out to be about 3.50 per gallon. In the blog, I said that was the same amount I paid at home. That was incorrect. Gas is about $2.79 a gallon at home. It made Dawn happy that she could do her job from a thousand miles away.

Oh, I also misspelled the town I stayed in last night. It was Quesnel, not Quisnel. My friend Big Al caught that one, but I don’t have any cute stories about Big Al, so onward!

I got an early start this morning, which allowed me to cover about 700 kilometers. (436 miles for the math challenged.) My first goal of the day was to make it to Dawson Creek. Not Dawson’s Creek, the late-nineties television show starring James Van Der Beek and Katie Holmes, but Dawson Creek, which is where the AlCan Highway really begins.

Southern British Columbia, where I started yesterday, is absolutely gorgeous. The more central part of BC that I drove through today was a little less lovely. There’s a lot of scrub brush and trees, and I suppose the fact that it was drizzly and cold didn’t make it look any better.

I got to Dawson Creek by early afternoon, and that’s when it felt like the scenery changed again for the better. First, it felt really good to finally be driving on The Alaska Highway.

Just north of Dawson Creek, I saw a loop off the main road. I like loops. In fact, I’m planning on taking every loop I see that looks interesting on the drive up. On the way home, I’ll be more direct.

Did you know the Alaska Highway is actually shrinking? It’s quite a few miles shorter now than when it was originally built in the 1940s. We’re not losing any land, but road construction has connected different aspects of the road, making it more efficient today.

The first time I became aware of the AlCan was in the seventies. Back then, people wore driving it as a badge of honor, like being in the front lines in battle. “You should see the potholes,” people would say. “They’re so deep, if you fall in one, you end up in China.” There was a lot of talk about broken axles, and people who felt fortunate to escape with their lives.

Like many things, the AlCan is easier today. I haven’t seen a single pothole that leads to China, and my axle remains in good condition. The truth is, modern road construction techniques and consistent applied effort have led to a much improved driving experience. It’s still a heck of a drive, though. I’m three days into the drive, and the Canadian-Alaskan border is not yet in sight.

On that loop that I took, I found the historic Kiskatinaw Bridge, sometimes called the Old Curved Bridge. Here’s a couple of shots:

And this is the view from the bridge:

The bridge was built in 1942 with a 9 degree curve, which was necessary to span the gap. It’s an amazing sight.

Tonight, I am crashing in a funky roadside motel in Pink Mountain, BC. Here’s my last interesting tidbit of the night: in 1968, someone imported 50 wild plains bison to Pink Mountain. Almost half a century later, those original 50 have ballooned to over 1000 wild bison roaming the area. I’ll keep an eye peeled tomorrow and see if I can get lucky and grab a picture.

Tomorrow, I’ll be up and at ’em early, because even though I’m on the AlCan, Alaska itself is still many, many miles away.

Cheers, and safe travels!

Shawn

16 comments

  1. You could tell the stories of all your other mistakes I’ve caught, but that would be encroaching on Dawn’s territory, so maybe not a good idea. 🙂

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  2. You got to drive on the old curved bridge?? Excellent!! It has been closed for about a month because some “Albertan” misjudged the entry….plummeted down the embankment….and took out a post or two.

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  3. When you get to Wasilla, over to the next town called Palmer. My grandparents were one of the first settlers in Alaska. They built a home, which is now called the Campbell house. and is now listed it on the historical sites. My family has donated a lot of the pictures for the home of our family . I was born and raised in Alaska. It will always be home to me. I can’t wait to go up next year again. Enjoy your adventures there!!! 😀

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