Posts Tagged ‘Dawson Creek’

Days 79 and 80: Return to the land of litres and kilometers

August 18, 2010 2 comments

Location: About 80 kilometers from Ft. St. John, British Columbia

Miles Driven: 1,180

Total Miles: 19,491


Early Monday morning I crossed Customs once again, heading back into Canada’s Yukon Territory.  This was my quickest passage yet – no car searches, no litany of questions…just a couple to answer and the nice officer sent me on my way.

Back in the Yukon, enjoying the early-morning views

I was soon back to my old ways of covering a lot of ground.  The spoiled days of traveling in Alaska, with maybe just 200 or so miles between destinations, were over.  But no problem.  I set myself a goal to cross the border into Montana by the end of the week, so I’d have to grind out a bit of driving these first few days back in Canada.  I was glad to have my satellite radio functioning again (in Alaska it stopped working, but learned that’s supposed to happen, and wasn’t an issue with my unit), and between that and some audiobooks (thank you, Elyse), the kilometers added up quickly.

It’s probably a psychological thing, but I think I prefer seeing distances to cities in kilometers as opposed to miles.  Even if I see a large amount, such as 400 kilometers, it still seems more visually appealing to me than 248 miles.

It was interesting traveling the opposite direction on the Alaska Highway.  I recalled all the little places I stopped to get gas, and the cafes I had visited to take advantage of free WiFi.  Once I made it back to Whitehorse, I felt like it was a return to a place I used to live, even though I only spent about a day and a half there before.

I had driven about 430 miles that day before deciding to call it quits.  I fell asleep early, and woke up shortly after midnight.  I had looked out my window and saw stars for the first time in…I don’t know…over 10 days?  Part of me wanted to get out and set up my tripod to take pictures, but that day I had been brutally attacked by bugs the second I stepped out of my car.  I decided to stay in the car, and quickly fell back asleep.

The next day, Tuesday, didn’t differ that much from Monday…had a lot of driving to do still.  The day was different in the fact I saw more bison than I ever saw before.  I must’ve seen at least three dozen bison in different spots along the road, most of them in little herds.

lots of bison butt

There were some stretches of driving where the air was smoky and hazy from forest hires (Watson Lake, noticeably), but it was to a lesser extent than on the drive up.  Incidentally, I stopped at the visitor center in Watson Lake (home of the Sign Post Forest), and saw that there are over 67,000 signs up there. Wow.

I passed Muncho Lake on the way, which I had seen before but my views were a bit obscured by haze from forest fires.  This time, it was a bit clearer.

I drove more than I intended on that Tuesday.  By 9PM or so I was ready to call it a night, after passing the city of Ft. St. Nelson, but I had a hell of a time finding a rest stop.  Prior to this stretch of driving, it seemed there was a rest stop every 50 km or so.  I had driven over 130 miles passed Ft. St. Nelson and hadn’t even found one.  Very surprised, and a bit annoyed, I continued driving in the dark.  I didn’t like it, as there were lots of signs regarding wildlife in the area.  It wasn’t until after 11PM I finally found a little place I could pull over and close my eyes for a bit. 

I ended up driving 747 miles that day – a new record, but not one I wish to challenge anytime soon.  I think the toughest haul of Canadian driving is over now.  Soon I’ll be in Dawson Creek, and from there the route will be entirely new to me as I go into Alberta.  Who knows, I might even make it to Jasper National Park before Wednesday is over.  Jasper and Banff National Parks are two of the “must-see” parks in Canada, and both are conveniently located on my route (well, I guess I somewhat planned it that way).

A side note – you’ll notice the Joe-tracker on the top right of the page still shows me in Palmer, Alaska.  Disregard that.  I think when I use the GPS on my phone, AT&T likes to charge me extra in Canada, so I’ve disabled it for the time being.


Days 65 and 66: A lot of driving…

August 3, 2010 4 comments

Location: Dawson Creek, British Columbia (ahem, not Dawson‘s)

Miles Driven (since Monday): 765

Total Miles: 15,565

Over 700 hundred miles from Vancouver and where does that take you?  Not incredibly far, by British Columbia standards.  What a huge province.  I still have a looooooong way to go just to get outside of BC, and then from there several hundred miles more to Fairbanks.

However, it’s pretty cool to be making progress towards Alaska.  British Columbia is beautiful country.  For the better part of Monday and Tuesday (today), I’ve been mostly driving.  Stops have basically consisted of a) taking naps, b) stretching the legs, or c) filling up the tank. And I thought gas prices on the West Coast were expensive…after you do the metric conversion (gas is sold in liters, here), the cost works out to be about $4/gal (I’m ignoring the conversion from Canadian Dollars to US Dollars…they are near equivalent at this time).  I underestimated the gas expense in this country while setting up my trip budget, but oh well.

I’m getting used to reading destination markers in kilometers and speed limit signs in km/h.  It’s unusual you see a speed limit sign that says “100”, but then you think twice and realize “ohhh, kilometers per hour.”  NOT that I was coasting through the country at 100 mph.

I don’t have many pictures from these past two days, but I occasionally tried to grab some shots of the nice scenery I passed through.

There were some areas I passed through that were not that far removed from some forest fires.  BC has been unseasonably dry this summer, I learned, and so the conditions were ripe.  Drove through some smoke for a little bit.

I spent Monday night in scenic Williams Lake, and then got on the road early in the morning to head towards Prince George.

A few hours later I was in Prince George, and I took some time to relax. Spent time at a cafe, got a haircut, and grabbed some lunch.  Then it was time to get back on the road as I wanted to get to Dawson Creek before it got dark.

I arrived in Dawson Creek in the early evening and decided I’d stop here for the night.  Earlier in the day I had read on that a recent coronal ejection from the Sun could result in a good display of the Northern Lights in northern latitudes.  Lucky for me, I’m the furthest north I’ve ever been in my life.  A side goal of this trip was to try and see the Northern Lights, but typically the best viewing is in early spring and September, so I would be a little early…but who knows, maybe I will have a chance tonight.  Take a look here, even those in northern parts of the U.S. might be able to view it:

So far the skies are clear near Dawson Creek…I might be in luck.  In a few hours, I’ll try to find a dark location outside of the city and have my camera set up and ready.

On a separate note, Dawson Creek is a pretty famous city amongst those who’ve spent some time on the road.  Dawson marks “Mile 0” of the Alaskan Highway, a road about 1300 miles in length that goes from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction, AK.  If not all the way, I’ll be taking the Alaskan Highway most of the way to AK.

I told a couple of friends today that a feeling of calmness, peace, and general happiness came over me today.  Not like I have been stressed or in a sour mood, but to realize that I’m on the way to something I’ve thought about for years…that was a pretty powerful feeling.  Still a long way to go until I make it to the 49th State, but the journey there is what it’s all about, right?

So I’m off to get a little exercise, and then I’ll do some location scouting for the aurora tonight.  Here’s hoping the skies stay clear and I’ll get a glimpse.