This past winter, as I sat in my cozy little beach house, my beloved by my side, and daydreamed about driving the AlCan to Alaska, today is exactly what I had hoped for.
Okay, maybe not having to do it without Dawn, who I bug by calling every time I get a cell signal (which isn’t often,) and maybe not spending the first four hours driving over compact snow and ice. Other than that, though, today was perfect.
The first thing I do when I wake up is reach for my phone to check the temperature. In Pink Mountain, British Columbia this morning, it was 22 degrees. Chilly. That told me, since I was heading over a couple of mountain summits, I might run into a bit of bad weather.
I filled up in Pink Mountain, based on the idea that you get gas at every opportunity on the Alcan. Even so, I was down to about a quarter of a tank before I saw the next sign of civilization. For most of the day, I didn’t see any towns at all. Instead, there were what they called “stops.” As in, a place in the middle of nowhere you can stop and get gas and something to drink.
Are you wondering how much they charge for gas at these stops? It comes out to about 4.60 a gallon. Think about that, the next time you get to go fill up with sub-$3.00 gasoline. Honestly, I’m surprised it’s not more. Unless you want to carry 100 gallons of gas strapped to your roof, what are you gonna do?
I got on the road by 6:30 AM and until about 1:00, the road was covered by either slush, ice, or compact snow. Take your pick, they’ve all got their downsides. Luckily, I’ve done quite a bit of driving in the snow, and aside from having to peel my fingers off the steering wheel at each stop, I did fine. Here’s a couple of snowy shots from my morning drive:
Looks chilly, right?
I was a little bummed that I hadn’t had any real animal sightings yet, but then they started popping up like it was a Disney movie. First up, I saw two Caribou, and no, I don’t mean the 1970s Elton John album. Unfortunately, these two are wild animals that had no interest in holding still long enough for me to stop the car, grab the camera and get a focus on them. They insisted on running away from me, but I still got enough of a shot to prove that I saw them:
That was cool, but I was just getting started. For the next few hours, I started to find bison left and right. They became so common, it was like passing a dairy pasture in Washington state. Okay, maybe not quite like that, but I stopped counting them when I got to 50, and I saw a bunch more after that, including this bull, who didn’t seem to like the cut of my jib:
This is the largest herd I found:
But, I thought these might work on the cover of the upcoming book:
Probably not for the cover, because it’s not sharp enough, but I still love the image of the bison on the highway.
My favorite find of the day, though, were these two foxes, who are so photogenic, it’s ridiculous. Maybe I found the supermodels of foxes:
These two started out on opposite sides of the highway, but I spent about twenty minutes watching them and by the end, they’d gotten together and headed for the hills.
The day did have one disappointment. I was looking forward to checking out the Liard River Hotsprings, but with all the snow of late, it is shut up tight. Maybe I can catch it on the way back down.
Before the day was over, I made it out of British Columbia and into the Yukon. I’m already finding that when things go wrong, they have a catch phrase to handle it: “Well, that’s the Yukon!” I wonder if Dawn will let me get away with that when I good something up at home. Prolly not.
I’d love to make it to Alaska tomorrow, but I know there’s just no way. It’s way too far. I might make it on Saturday, but even that’s not guaranteed. One way or the other, I’ll keep putting miles under the Emerald Bullet’s wheels.
Cheers, and safe travels!