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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Fine, Canada, we get the hint

Aug 8, 2022 (Mon)

9:15 am Destruction Bay, YT

Brrr, it’s cold (41°) and the wind is blowing like crazy—Harvey shakes from side-to-side on the gusts. We’re on an exposed hillside, surrounded by abandoned RV’s, and feeling a bit like extras in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Our post-apocalyptic campsite

Destruction Bay got its name from a windstorm that blew down a bunch of structures back in 1942 when the Alaska Highway was being built. It doesn’t take any effort to imagine that…

Both of the heaters in Harvey have quit working (there’s a heat pump, and a propane powered heater), but Harvey retains heat pretty well. Plus, the exertions of changing the bed back into a table (and shoving the 2” foam mattress pad back behind the couch) usually help us warm up right nicely.

11:30 am Destruction Bay, YT

We’re gassing up at the only open business in Destruction Bay. Robert asks the clerk (who is frantically scratching off Lotto tickets hoping to win enough to move anywhere but here): Is it always this windy?

“No, but usually.”

Whitecaps on Kluane Lake outside Destruction Baby

12:25 pm Kluane River oversight, YT

The guidebooks all proclaim this stretch of the Alaska Highway as the worst. Seems that the permafrost likes to thaw a little bit and then freeze up and the result is what’s called “frost heave.” This is where the road goes up and down, like a kid’s roller coaster. Except that we’re zipping along at 100 kph, and sometimes that up and down is timed just right so that everybody leaves their seat for a minute.

Robert finds it quite enchanting. Gini hates it.

Serious mountains!

1:25 pm Ho hum, another bear

We see another bear in the road, but this bear seems about as impressed with us as we are with it. It kind of saunters to the middle of the road, looks around, decides maybe it’ll mosey on off and then wanders into the roadside.

We get pictures this time!

A genuine Canadian black bear doing black bear stuff!

The funny thing is that this morning on Facebook, we saw a video from our neighborhood in Woodinville, WA. It showed a Mama black bear and her three cubs cavorting in one of the open spaces near our home. If we had stayed home, we would have seen more black bears than in Canada…

2:00 pm North of Destruction Bay YT

The road has switched from frost heave to lots of asphalt patches that themselves have gotten potholes. In other words—even the potholes have potholes!

It’s gotten so bad that even lead-foot Robert has backed off and is slowing down before the asphalt patches.

2:40 pm Beaver Creek, YT

Our plan was for an easy day of driving, and then stop in Beaver Creek, the last Canadian settlement before the border. We stopped trusting the internet, but our “Milepost 2022” printed guidebook assured us that there were RV parks and restaurants and we’d have a good old time.

Well , now we don’t trust the printed word, either!

Buckshot Betty’s Café and RV Park: permanently closed

Other RV Park: permanently closed

Well, Ida’s Café looks open, so we head there, planning to strategize, but the guy lounging in a chair says:

“The café’s not open. They’ll open when they feel like it.”

Onward to the U.S.!

3:35 pm U.S. Canada border?

We approach the border and see a long line of cars coming into Canada. We drive to the part where it says “U.S. border” but there’s no border post? No sign to stop??

We keep driving, thinking something is around the corner when we suddenly realize: Did we just sneak into the U.S.?! Oh my Good! We’re illegal immigrants to our own country!

We have visions of Border Patrol agents knocking down our doors (once we get home, of course) and arresting us for illegal entry and illegally driving an RV into the country and that means Harvey would be arrested, too!

We don’t know what to do about it, but to keep driving and hope that maybe they didn’t notice that we snuck in…

From here, the road is nothing but gravel, with occasional asphalt breaks. It’s like they had enough money for 100 feet of asphalt, so they laid it down, but then gave up and let it be gravel for a while.

4:00 pm Real U.S. border

Some 20 miles down the road we reach the U.S. part of the border. For reasons we don’t understand, Canada has its border entry station well into the country while the U.S. has its border entry station exactly on the border (well, that part we understand).

We breathe a huge sigh of relief and have one of the easiest border crossings Robert has ever experienced. No line, maybe 60 seconds of chat (of course Robert mentions the underwear he bought, so the guy may have been eager to move him along before we got to the “Show-and-Tell” part).

Best of all? The road is paved! With good old American asphalt! None of this “Go home Yankee!” gravel roads that Canada puts on its side of the border. We are relaxed and relieved. We’re legal and cruising!

3:20 pm Construction Delay, North of the Border

Whoo! That smooth asphalt sure didn’t last long. Now we’re paved, but there’s plenty of potholes that require dodging around—sometimes into the next lane. Fortunately, Robert’s experience as a motorcycle rider comes into play here, as he’s gotten to be expert at dodging potholes. On a motorcycle, potholes are not only unpleasant (“Right up your spine!”) but potentially deadly, because they can toss you sideways.

Of course, Robert is dodging at 40 to 50 mph and basically just enjoying the heck out of it. “Woohoo!”

On her side, Gini feels like a rodeo bull rider and is clutching the door handle, shrieking and closing her eyes. Such fun! (“But when we have to return over this patch of road, I’m taking my whole bottle of beta blockers,” says Gini)

We’ve also lost an hour. Seems we’re on “Alaska Time,” which is one hour earlier than “Time we use at home.”

4:40 pm Construction Delay, Alaska

We pull up to this construction delay. Robert notices the woman in the car behind us get out (these delays tend to last 10 to 20 minutes, so he’s thinking she’s just stretching her legs). She heads towards us carrying something.

She’s carrying our tire cover!

It seems that with all the near-misses and occasional hits of the potholes, we have knocked our tire cover off our spare tire. Somehow, she noticed, stopped and picked it up, and followed us for some time so she could return it!

We were pleased to see she was in a car with government plates. Our tax dollars in action!

Our tire cover! Re-covered!

6:30 pm Tok, AK

Because America loves commerce, every single RV park in this town is open. And all but one of the restaurants (which is still about three different restaurants).

Most importantly, the restaurant that serves margaritas is open and we happily avail ourselves. Back in the U. S., of A., baby!

This about sums it up!

By the numbers

If you don’t have numbers, you don’t have anything. But you don’t know it, because you don’t have numbers.

Miles traveled so far: 2,142

Estimated Percentage of total road miles: 63%

Days so far: 16 days

Estimated Percentage of total road days: 52%

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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