Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Adventure Continues...

 
We are adjusting to being back in the lower 48.  We realize that it really is summer.  We don't have to have jacket as part of the dress code for the day, that are still lots of folks on vacation, and we have to have reservations at RV Parks.
 
And as our adventure continues, Bob, Molly, Rich, and Mary are still hanging in with us.
 
July 19, 2014
 
After taking a deep breath from our five days on the road, we are looking for a couple of laid back days, and an RV Park with power.  Someone turned up the heat!
 
So, we think, Wolf Point, Montana and
 
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Homestead RV Park, formerly the Ranchero RV Park, might be just what we need.
 
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Jigs, the Indian man that owns the park, kept us well entertained.  He met us outside, to confirm we were the ones that had called for reservations... we confirmed!
 
You, the red one, park this way...you the big one, you go this way.  And, Jigs kept calling Rich part Indian, because he had to circle three times before getting into his spot.
 
Nice to meet you Jigs...you were great and so was our stay!
 
July 20, 2014
 
After a good night's rest, it was time to roll on over
 
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the back roads of Montana and on towards
 
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North Dakota.
 
Yes, finally, after all these years of traveling, we are adding this state to our map!  It is one of the last few for us to mark off the list.
 
By noon, we arrived at the
 
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Red Trail Campground in Medora.  This is where we will call
 
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home for a couple of days...nice folks and nice campground...even if we were parked right under the cottonwood tree!
 
We had a leisure afternoon and evening, sitting outside, visiting, and making plans for our next adventure.
 
July 21, 2014
 
Today, will be our last day to spend with friends.  So might as well do it right!  We started it off with
 
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a special breakfast of biscuits and gravy, eggs, and grits.

  And, Mary, made it very special by making one her famous
 
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apple pancakes.  What a treat!
 
By mid-morning, we loaded up and headed out
 
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for a drive through the south unit of the Roosevelt National Park...a 36 mile loop.
 
In the mist of
 
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construction...our favorite pass time... we
 
did find
 
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a big bison, minding his own business and enjoying his mid-morning snack.
 
And, other than some little
 
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prairie dogs, a few
 
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wild horses, and an occasional
 
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overlook, we were done with the park.
 
  Oh, there were lots of places to hike, but,
 
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these three vetoed any idea that involved hiking!
 
The park is truly a unique
 
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wilderness of 70,400 acres of Dakota Badlands.
 
Theodore Roosevelt arrived here for the first time in 1883.  He immediately fell in love with the land and quickly invested in cattle and soon had two large ranches.
After spending time in North Dakota, he became aware of the damage that was being done to the land and the wildlife.  After he became President, he pursued his interest in conservation.  The results of his efforts...
 
Five National Parks
51 Federal Bird Reservations
Four National Game Preserves
150 National Forest
 
By the end of his presidency, he had protected 230,000,000 acres of public land.
 
Roosevelt .."I have always said, I would have not been president if it had not been for my experience in North Dakota."
 
One more national park to cross off our list and
 
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one more stamp for the passport book!
 
After our drive through the park, we headed back to the RV Park, where we waited out an afternoon thunderstorm.
 
By 5:00, the rain was gone, the air had cooled, and
 
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the six of us were off for our last dinner together.
 
We drove to the top of the hill that overlooks
 
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and the Little Missouri River and the town of Medora.
 
Dinner...
 
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The Pitchfork Fondue.
 
  Dinner was a 120z rib-eye that was loaded on pitchfork and immersed in 350 degree oil for 5 minutes.  The steak was accompanied by lots of
 
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sides on a serve yourself buffet line and included desert and a drink.
 
After dinner, we treated ourselves
 
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to the Medora
 
The show is said to be the
 
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best in the West...and we agree!
 
  It is dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt's time in the Badlands and featured
 
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Miss Emily, Queen of the West.
 
What a great finale to our two month journey!
 
July 22, 2014
 
This morning, we were up and ready to roll by 6:30.  We headed out of Medora with
 
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fog hanging over the hillsides and
 
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Interstate 94.  Thankfully, it didn't take too long for the sun come out from hiding!
 
Just west of Bismarck, we stopped for breakfast...one last Hardy's stop for Molly.  Here we had hugs and kisses, and a couple of tears as we parted ways.
 
Bob and Molly...East bound and down!  They are headed home to Virginia by way of Maryland...travel safe guys, those little hugs are just down the road!
 
Rich and Mary...headed home to Illinois...safe travels to you...Mary, be sure to let us know when it is time to sign up for Vancouver!
 
Love you guys...and again, it has been an awesome journey!
As for Mark and I...the adventure continues...
 
Our the first stop will land us in Minnesota for a few days.  We are looking forward to visiting and catching up with Bob, Kathy, Niles, Sue...Lark Drive Gang...and Retama family!
 
Yep...it's a new adventure in the making!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Reflection Facts

July 19, 2014

I know there are those of you out there that are as curious as we were about how to plan and save for an Alaskan Adventure.  And, while no one travels in the same style or pace, or with the same interest that we do, just keep in mind that these facts are our facts.  And, not everyone does it like we did.

Because everyone travels to the border from a different Point A, being your location in the lower 48 to Point B, being your choice of border crossings.  I started recording my facts on May 22, 2014, from our staging area at Johnson's of St. Mary Campground in St. Mary, Montana. and cover 57 days of travel through Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Alaska, and back...ending with our return border crossing at Sweetgrass, Montana on July 18, 2014.

First, make sure you purchase the latest edition of the Milepost.  It will be your guide, map, and constant companion for the entire trip.  Of, course, in the beginning you won't be able to read it or figure it out!  For some routes, you read it front to back, while other routes you read it back to front.  And, then just when you think you have it all under control, you have completely changed highways, skipped 75 pages, never to return to where you left off.  And, sometimes, you are miles down the road, before you know exactly where you are.  You use high-lighters, make notes, and question your sanity, but, by the time you return to the lower 48, you will be a pro at reading this book.  You will have practically memorized it, but, you will have also learned a lot about the roads less traveled.  This wonderful necessity can be purchased from Amazon or your local bookstore for $34.95.

Next, if you are planning on a lot of sightseeing trips, fishing charters, or other adventures, purchase the Tour Saver Coupon Book from Tour Saver.com.  The cost is $99, and the offers are 2 for 1.  We used several coupons, I think enough that it was worth the purchase.

We traveled in our 40' motor home and towed our Jeep.  Other than a few locations, we had no problems getting in or out, or finding a place to stay.  The Top of the World Highway is beautiful, I am sure...but, we chose not to drive it.

We traveled 7,100 miles from border to border.  We used 825.9 gallons of diesel fuel that averaged to $4.91 a gallon.  The most we paid was $6.46/gallon at Watson Lake, Yukon Territory and the lowest we paid was $3.88 in Conrad, Montana.  Our total fuel cost was $4,052,08.

Out of the 57 nights we spent on the road, we stayed in RV Parks or Campgrounds 35 nights for a total of $1,194.82.  The other 22 nights we boon-docked at Wal-Mart, Fred Myers, or in a pullout along the road or beside a beautiful lake!  So, with all those free nights averaged in the mix, our camping averaged $21/night.

Fishing trips, airplane rides, boat trips, shipping over 75 pounds of fish to Texas, and all other fun added up to a little less than $3,000.

I didn't keep a real close track on food.  We have never calculated this in our travels.  We figure we have to eat wherever we are. We enjoy tasting the local fare while traveling and try to support the local restaurants.  And, on this trip, we found lots of good ones!

I think the craziest thing I did was pay $5.79 for 4 rolls of Toilet Paper in Seward.  And, we always seemed to find Coke Zero on sale usually 3 for $12.00.  Otherwise, a 12 carton of Coke was around $9.00.  And, in Ninilchik, at a small local grocery, we saw a 16 ounce tub of sour cream for about $6.00.  Thankfully, we were able to shop at Wal-Mart and Fred Myers where the prices weren't too bad.  Well, so much for those free camping spots...lol

Oh, yes, I guess, I have to throw in that tire we had to buy in Whitehorse for $700.

We learned to use Loonies and Toonies while in Canada.  Those are one and two dollar coins.

The highest we paid to do laundry was $4.00 to wash and $4.00 to dry.

And, last...I am sure I am taking enough souvenirs back to Texas.

So, the facts are the facts, but, the fact of the matter...the

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reflections...they were priceless and will not be forgotten!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five Days On The Road...

July 14 -18, 2014

This past Monday, we left

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Skagway in our rearview mirrors and headed into

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Canada.

As we traveled through Yukon Territory, we were still in awe of the

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beauty that we have seen throughout this journey.  The lakes, the

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the wildlife, and,

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the mountains have all been amazing.

We traveled back through Carcross, where we took the

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Atlin-Tagish-Carcross Scenic Loop to Jake's Corner.  This 34 mile paved road connected us to the Alaska Highway South of Whitehorse.  It wasn't too far down the road, where we safely crossed the

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Teslin Bridge.  Molly has renamed this the Mark Hall bridge.  If you remember, this is the bridge that claimed that rear tire on the motor home on our way up.

We made a stop at the mile marker for the

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Continental Divide which divides 2 of the largest drainage systems in North America--the Yukon River and Mackenzie River watersheds.  Water draining west from this point forms the Swift River which drains into the Yukon River.  It then starts a northwest journey of 2,300 miles to the Bering Sea.  The water that drains to the East flows into the Laird River then the McKenzie River and flows Northwest and empties into the Beaufort Sea (Arctic Ocean) a journey of 2,650 miles.

We made our way back through

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Watson Lake where we got one last glimpse of The Sign Forest.  It would be interesting to know how many new signs have been added in these past couple of months and will be added for the rest of this summer.

Just out of Watson Lake, we met up with

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this big guy, just before we came upon the 

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Pilot Car.  His job today was to take us through

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the construction zone.

It is true what they say about Canada and Alaska.  There are two seasons...Winter and Construction.  And, this was only one of the

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many areas we drove through.

After driving the rough roads and the dirty roads, we had the thought that we might make our nights stop at Laird River Hot Springs, but, by late afternoon, the

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temperatures were creeping to numbers we hadn't seen in weeks.  So, the thought of a bath in the hot springs coupled with the mosquitoes in the woods, caused us to rethink the end of our day.  And, we drove on.

Soon, we found a beautiful pull out

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across the road from Muncho Lake.  And, after a 500 mile travel day, the stop was both relaxing and welcomed.

July 15, 2014

On Tuesday morning we woke to a

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beautiful blue sky and a

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Caribou just outside the motor home.  We watched him for awhile while he showed off for the camera before we decided it was time to get on with the day.

Our travels today, took us on around

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Muncho Lake, around

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the narrow roads, and

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through the mountains, and on to points South.

What we didn't know, is that once again today, we would encounter not only

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more wildlife, but, more

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construction.

  And, here, where most of the roads are only two lanes, there is no place to re-route the traffic, so you just travel through the construction areas.

We traveled through what seemed like miles and miles of

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construction before we reached Fort Nelson.

We stopped at the North end of town at the city dump station while Bob and Molly traveled on into town for fuel.  Just as Mark and I were pulling out of the parking lot, we looked up to see

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Rich and Mary pass right by us.  After we all made a stop at the local A&W for lunch, Rich and Mary joined us as we continued our trek South.  Glad to have you guys back with us!

Our afternoon travels took us through the area called Pink Mountain.  Just since we passed through here a couple of months ago, the oil companies have started lots of drilling.  So, not only have we had to share the roads with the

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construction workers, now, we are passing lots of

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really really big trucks bringing in lots of drilling equipment.  And, some of these trucks needed

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most of the road.  This particular one had 14 axles on the ground.  Twelve of them were duals.  That means there were 50 tires on this vehicle!

By late day, we reached

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Dawson Creek, the official start and stop of the Alaskan Highway.  Seems like we were just here in a way, and then again, it seems likes it was a lifetime ago.

We traveled on through town where, Bob, Molly, Rich and Mary found a pull out for the night.  Mark and I drove on to Grande Prairie where we found a much needed RV Wash before we settled in at the local Wal-Mart for the night.  And, an end to another long travel day.

July 16, 2014

Wednesday morning, Bob and gang made their way to Grande Prairie, to made a run through the truck wash before we all headed out of town to work our way toward Edmonton.

The drive today was beautiful.  The fields along the highways were filled with

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beautiful yellow blooms.  Our first thoughts was that this is mustard, but someone told us it was canola?   Whatever it is, the fields are so pretty and seemed

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to go for miles.

As we traveled along, we begin to notice the sky

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  becoming smoky.  We found out that there are forest fires towards Banff and Jasper.

The smoke

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hung in the sky making the sun look red.

We made it through Edmonton and after two long travel days, we decided to cut this day short.  We found a

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little city park in Lacombe.  They offered electric only sites, but, for the night, it was perfect and all we needed.  Great place to stop and relax for the evening.

July 17, 2014

Thursday morning

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dawned to what looked like a great day.  Our travel plan today would take us through

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Calgary and on to our border crossing at Sweetgrass, Montana.  We had originally planned to stop over in Calgary to see JB and Brenda, but, back down the road, Bob found a small fuel leak in the biggie truck.  After talking with the dealership in Great Falls, Montana, they could look at it on Friday morning.  So, no tarrying,  we needed to make tracks in that direction before the small leak became a big one.  Sorry JB and Brenda, we didn't get to make that stop...hope to catch up with you guys in Arizona this winter!

After we wiggled our way through the rush hour in Calgary, we got a few more miles behind us when Molly decided it was breakfast time.  She located an A&W...sounds great...we just didn't know we had to take the

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construction route to get there.  But, it was worth it, and, by the time we arrived, we were all ready for breakfast!

Tummies full, we were headed on our southern route for the border.  However, by the time we reached Fort Macleod, Bob's Biggie Truck decided it had gone far enough.  And, just as we reached the south end of town, he lost all power included steering and brakes.  He managed to get off the road.  He waited just a minute and it started.  Just ahead of us was a GMC dealership!  Now, if you are going to breakdown, It is always good to do it with a service center in sight.

After limping around the corner and into their lot, the service techs were quick to check out the problem.  Good news is they can fix it, bad news, the part had to be over-nighted from Edmonton.  So, our travel day ended today before noon, but, everyone is safe and the repairs to the truck should take place in the morning.

And, so for tonight, Bob and Molly are

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tucked in next to the service center, while we are

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parked just across the street in a large parking lot.

If all goes well with the repairs, we will try again tomorrow for that border crossing!

July 18, 2014

This morning, we were all taken back a bit when we found out that the part that was suppose to arrive from Edmonton overnight was on a truck that was broken down somewhere between Edmonton and Fort Macleod.

Just about the time we were thinking that border crossing wasn't going to happen, the dealership received a call that the part was on its way.   It did arrived and we were off for our usual A&W breakfast treat while the mechanics got to work on the truck.

It was after noon before the techs finished up with the Biggie Truck and we were all hooked up and ready to go.

We were glad to

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to be on the road and thankful that Bob and Molly were safe from their scare yesterday, and the repairs were easy.

As we traveled on towards the border, we enjoyed the

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fields of blue contrasted by the yellow.  And, like the yellow fields, we aren't sure what it is, but, it is beautiful.  Maybe some of our Canadian friends will set us straight.

We saw an

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old water tower that has been recycled into what looks like an office building.  And, this beautiful

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railroad bridge.

And, then, by late afternoon, we had the

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border crossing in sight.  It was an easy crossing and the border patrol officer welcomed us home.  And, I must say, it was nice to see

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this sign.

And, now as we comtinue our summer adventure, we are now in Montana, traveling across Highway 2 making our way towards North Dakota.  This is one of the last lower 48 states we need to visit.

  But, tonight, as we are parked on the Wal-Mart parking lot in Havre, Montana, we are still talking about the awesome trip to Alaska, but, glad to be back to the

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green green grass of home!

And, as the song goes...Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight...we just made it in five!