Before heading out of Tok on Monday, we stopped to catch up on some laundry. The great thing about an empty laundromats is that we can bang out a family of five’s laundry in about an hour.
After that, we left Alaska and headed back down the treacherous Alaska Highway:
We stopped along the road in Kluane National Park to do some off-roading with the Jeep. Nat and I had to inspect a couple stream-crossings along the way, as we’re still learning what this vehicle can take.
It turns out stuff like stream crossings and roads like this are not a problem at all:
Amy got us back to some wonderful scenery only accessible by 4-wheel-drive vehicles. It was so much fun, and so empowering.
By Monday evening, the beautiful mountains of Kluane were in our rear-view mirror instead of in front of us. So, a little sad. (With its Alaskan neighbor park Wrangall-St. Elias, this area holds several of North America’s tallest peaks.)
We’d gotten used to these views:
Back in Whitehorse on Tuesday, we were overdue for an oil change. Our RV was too big for this particular shop, but Amy sweet-talked them into changing the oil on the street.
We’ve had a bit of trouble with our rig lately. The RV twice now has not started — and then it mysteriously starts right up. And the Jeep’s supplemental break system, shown here, some days won’t work — and then it mysteriously works fine.
We’re up to five chips in the RV windshield:
..and two chips and several little pits in the Jeep windshield:
By Wednesday, and after two days of hard driving, we made it back to Churchill Copper Mine Road in the Northern Rocky Mountain Provincial Park. This was the place of our failed off-roading attempt a couple weeks earlier. It was time to try this again.
This river was as far as we got last time. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but that water is about two feet deep and moving quickly over a bed of large rocks, so it felt a little risky to drive across it:
It was worth it. Once we crossed the river, it was smooth dirt roads; easy Jeep driving:
We took the road about 10 miles back and stopped at this field. Not sure what these white plants/weeds are, but they looked pretty in the early evening sun:
More animated GIF fun:
We let Carrie and Emily get in some driving practice on the way back (Natalie can’t quite reach the pedals yet):
Thursday would be another long day of driving. One of the challenges of these Canadian roads is the dust — they seem dustier than any desert I’ve been in:
By Friday we had reached the end (or beginning, rather) of the Alaska Highway; a.k.a “mile 0” in Dawson Creek, British Columbia:
While there, we stopped at a little museum and saw a fascinating documentary on the making of the Alaska Highway. Having just driven it, I could appreciate the back-breaking labor that it took to forge 1500 miles of road through uncharted wilderness. It truly was an engineering feat on par with the Panama Canal.
Not a great photo, but I’m including it here to document two unique things: 1) we have darkness at night again, and 2) we are driving after dark, something we strive to avoid. I was so glad to stop at the Walmart in Edmonton, capitol of Alberta, on Friday night.
Amy scored big at the farmers’ market in Edmonton on Saturday morning:
Hey look what’s in Edmonton! We did some shopping and let our girls experience the glory that is IKEA:
We drove a short way on Saturday until we came upon a Walmart in Vegreville, Alberta. Also, that is the biggest trailer I’ve ever seen.
The mountains are behind us unfortunately, but we now see fields upon fields of these yellow flowers. Not sure what they are, but I will find out. UPDATE: It’s canola. (source: a kid in a Saskatchewan Walmart McDonalds where I’m enjoying free WiFi.)
We crossed into new territory today: Saskatchewan!
We ended the week stopped at a dumpy little campground in Kenaston, Saskatchewan. But there was a dump station and potable water, so for $10 it was good enough for us! This was only the second time we paid for camping this week.
With 2084 miles logged, this week was the hardest we’ve driven so far. We’re trying to keep up the pace so we get home in time for school, but we’re also trying to savor as much as we can before this trip is over.