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  • Robert Gidley

Gini misses the wildlife experience

Aug 2, 2022 (Tue)

(Yes, we know this Trip Log is late. We are in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and we last saw a cell signal in the early afternoon of Tuesday. Apparently, nobody’s willing to scale a mountain to erect a cell tower for the sake of a few tourists. The RV Park we are staying at does have Wi-Fi, but the speed is 64K Seriously, 64K. This is about the speed we used to get with modems and dial-up and isn’t nearly enough to get a trip log out. We hope this is our last really big mountain range.)


How was life for the black soldiers building the Alaska Highway back in 1942?


Well, apart from being stationed as far from civilization as possible (so they wouldn’t corrupt any local women [or men]), it was a lot of work with little respect. Because of the long days (we currently get sunrise about 4:00 am and light disappears about 10:00 pm) they were working three shifts to get the road built.


They were in all black companies (so they wouldn’t corrupt the white men—most of whom wouldn’t serve with black men) with white officers Generally the white officers were from the South—the thinking being that they understood black men better. The reality being that they had an in-grown dislike for black men.


This wasn’t true of all the officers. Lt. Robert Boyd discovered that 27 soldiers in his company couldn’t write their own names, which meant they couldn’t get paid. The Army required a signature and wouldn’t accept an “X” in its place. So he wrote out each man’s name in large letters and had him trace it. He gradually reduced the size of the letters until they were small enough to fit on the signature line. By the following payday, everybody could sign their names. Of course Lt. Boyd was an engineer—why do you ask?


When the black men could go into town, they found that the white officers had been there first, telling the local populace that the black men had tails, were savages, and generally scaring the locals. Since few of the locals had ever seen a black man, these tales about tails were believed and you can imagine the way the black soldiers were treated when they showed up.


The amazing thing to us is that even though they were treated this way, the black soldiers still busted their tail-less butts to build the highway in record time.


11:15 Fort Nelson

We’re off!


11:20 Fort Nelson Historical Society

But first, a stop at the Fort Nelson Historical Society, which is chock-a-block full of all the old stuff that nobody wanted. It’s organized into rough categories (WWII, bears, Mounties) and every place you look has something in it.


It is well-looked after and there are five buildings full of stuff. One garage has over a dozen old vehicles, including two Studebakers from the 1950’s. We even manage to find a car that Gini lusted after in her youth: A green Model A (or maybe a Model T—Gini’s a bit fuzzy on names).



The only Mountie we've seen on our trip


We may have no Wi-Fi, but we sure have antlers!


Gini and her dream car


One building full of telephonic equipment had several phones that we had used in our lifetimes (we didn’t own them, because in the olden days, the telephone company owned the phones and you rented the phones from them and God Help You if you were caught with an unauthorized phone).


We think there should be a rule that any piece of equipment we used in our lifetime can’t be considered “historical.”


Afterwards, we stop for gas: $2.10 per litre


1:00 pm North of Fort Nelson

The road is steadily deteriorating and has a lot of bumps and bangs. It is still not nearly as bad as our washboard experience in the early days.


We’re beginning to think that Siri was having us pass a test: “If those yahoos can survive 60 miles of washboard dirt road, they’re tough enough for the Alaska Highway.” Grrr—we’re tough! As long as we get a proper cup of coffee in the morning at any rate.


1:15 pm Northish of Fort Nelson

When we set a course for Lake Muncho (that’s really the name), we were puzzled: “It’s only 150 miles, but it’s going to take three and a half hours to get there?”


Here’s one reason: we sit and wait at a construction site. Fortunately, it’s 70° and sunny, so it’s not bad at all. We’re surrounded by tree covered mountains and it’s all terribly picturesque. Traffic jams would be a lot more tolerable with this kind of scenery.


1:30 pm North by North of Fort Nelson

Another construction delay! This one requires us to follow a Pilot Car (after, of course, waiting). The weird thing is that we follow the Pilot Car on a perfectly smooth, brand new asphalt road that winds for five miles and is whisper quiet.


Why? Are they afraid we’ll get out and pee on their nice new highway? Maybe we’ll go drag racing and leave skid marks? What are they afraid of?


2:20 pm North, north, north of Fort Nelson

And now the road has deteriorated to gravel and pot holes. Still not washboard quality, but we’ll be careful when we open the refrigerator! Thanks to Siri, we’re tough enough for this road.


We do, though, feel sorry for all the many motorcyclists we see along the road. Their innards must be all scrambled.


2:45 pm Stone Mountain

Whoever named this mountain got it dead right. This looks like somebody took a giant stone and just plopped it down. No trees, no bushes, nothing but stone. All the way up.



Robert presents; Stone Mountain!


Gini has managed to miss the entire wildlife experience on this segment:

  • We drove through a flock of butterflies (a flutter of butterflies?). She was looking the wrong way.

  • A moose / caribou / elk crossed the road and into the brush on the other side (we had some warning, because the car ahead of us was acting weird). It didn’t have any antlers, so it was maybe a female moose / caribou /elk? Gini was looking at the bushes on the other side of the road.


So far, that’s our sum total of wildlife interaction this trip, other than the bear from a few days ago and Gini points out, “We never actually saw the bear.”


4:15 pm Lake Muncho

This is a long blue lake that the road goes along for a good ten kilometers (25° C). Apparently, the blue is from the large amount of copper sulfate in the water, which makes it scenic and creepy. We wouldn’t want to eat any fish that swam in this lake.


This is our stop for the night, at the fancy “Lodge” here. The RV park is pretty basic, our take-out pizza was burnt around the edges (the dining room was booked for a busload of tourists), but it’s home for the night.



Our home for the night at Lake Muncho


By the numbers

95% of everything is numbers. The rest is details.


Miles traveled so far: 1,249

Estimated Percentage of total road miles: 36%

Days so far: 9 days

Estimated Percentage of total road days: 29%



Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff


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