Recently retired and ready to spread their wings, Len and Faith Todd wanted to do more with their time than just wait for the grandkids to stack up. Avid travelers, they purchased a Toy Hauler with the expressed purpose of doing some snowmobiling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula … but another motivation waited, unspoken. Tour Alaska. Trip of a lifetime. They waited. They researched. They prepared. In late June 2009, the trip of a lifetime began. During the trip, Faith and Len blogged about their adventure and kept a growing audience of friends and family rapt with attention and not a little bit jealous. This chapter covers July 22nd – 26th, days 23-27 of their adventure.
There are certain parts of Canada where the central abiding feature is the grand wildness of it all. Driving through the Yukon, you really get the feeling that you are “out there in it”, disconnected from much of what we know as “civilized society.” For all that isolation, it is a gorgeous, inviting place.
Long days on the road are tolerable simply because the view out the windshield is so intense. Mountains, glaciers, and ice fields–everywhere you let your gaze fall is equally sweeping and grand. Every day along the road you see caribou, bear and bison. They watch you as you speed by, aloof but vigilant, as if making sure you are leaving. This is after all, their home. We’re just passing through. The one creature we still have on our Roadside Menagerie wish list is a grizzly bear. Not up close, mind you, but we definitely want a chance to glimpse this area’s prime resident.
Once on the Alaskan Highway the surrounding area becomes “no man’s” land. The only commerce passed is a single gas station every 60 miles or so, and, if you are extremely lucky, a restaurant. In between is a steady stream of open road dissecting a vast expanse of trees, rivers, mountains, lakes and wild creatures. Sometimes it feels as if you are driving through a Bob Ross landscape.
One thing to keep in mind while traveling the Alaskan Highway: the environment here is harsh on the roadway. During the spring and summer months, expect serious and perpetual roadwork. We passed several extended patches of gravel road where entire chunk of the roadway had been removed and replaced with gravel. It makes for a very dusty – and hazardous – ride.
Four days on Canadian highways, nearly every kilometer of it absolutely breathtaking. For all the eye-popping beauty, harrowing roadwork and large, free-roaming mammals, we still averaged over 400 miles per day.
Our fifth and final day in Canada, though, was a real haul. Eager to make it to Alaska, we put 521 miles of road behind us. The nearly 12-hour marathon day began with a real scare – a near miss that would have likely ended our trip less than 600 miles from the border. We had only been on the road for five minutes, barely settled into our seats. Suddenly an enormous brownish blur charged out of the woods, barreling across the road, heedless of our truck and trailer. Bear! Once we caught our breath, I couldn’t help but wonder if big, brown and fuzzy had been into the Molson. Needless to say, up here, Yogi has the right of way. Otherwise you, and your truck, can end up with a big boo-boo.
That little slice of Teslin, Yukon adventure out of the way, the rest of our day was a long, undeniably picturesque, haul through some of God’s finest handiwork. Tomorrow, our Alaskan adventure truly begins!
Chapter 1: Dude—No Way!
Chapter 2: Celebrating Our Independence
Chapter 3: Exploring Black Hills and Plush Valleys
Chapter 4: Rodeos, Rivers, and Bears—Oh, my!
Chapter 5: Big Fish and Bigger Sky (Wyoming and Montana)
Chapter 6: On the Fly in Wyoming
Chapter 7: Glacier National Park & A Glimpse of the Great White North
Chapter 8: Yukon Get There From Here
Chapter 9: Alaska … Roads, Rain and Rabbits
Chapter 10: Seward’s Glory
Chapter 11: Not Just for the Halibut
Chapter 12: Mountain and Flame
Chapter 13: Fairbanks, Loonies & The Road To Destruction
Chapter 14: Icefields, Parks and Canada in the Rearview
Chapter 15: Reservoirs, Dinosaurs & the Devil’s Playground
Chapter 16: Superior Views & Yooper Trails
Chapter 17: The Adventure Continues