Friday, April 30, 2010

Hawkeye Folkertsma

Friday April 30.
Hawkeye is my new nickname for Paulette. She spotted way more animals today than I did. The same was true for yesterday. Must be the Cherokee in her. Today's total: 1 bear, 3 deer, 11 caribou, 2 moose, and 6 buffalo. One realizes they are getting pretty far north when one starts to see caribou. They are not as large as I would have thought. They stand about 4 feet tall at the shoulder, and are stockier than a deer. They came down to the road to lick the pavement. All I can theorize is the snow removal crews salt the roads in winter and the caribou come to get the salt residue.

We left Dawson Creek/Ft St John very early and did 11+ hours today to beat the threat of snow, which they now say will happen early next week. The scenery was AWESOME for much of the way. Crossing the continental divide in the Canadian Rockies was a lot of work for the truck. Some uphill grades were 10%. Temps much of the morning were just above freezing and the continental divide was threatening snow. They say mountains make their own weather. I believe it. Lakes we passed most of the day were still frozen, but the ice seemed to be turning slushy on them. River ice was beginning to break up in some places. A different world than what we are use to seeing. We did about 300 miles to Fort Nelson by noon. When we left Fort Nelson after fueling we hardly saw a car on the Alaskan Hwy. I was worried they knew something we didn't about the weather ahead so they stayed in town. Once we went about 25 miles without seeing another vehicle. It's a bit early for tourists up here. Late in the afternoon we crossed into the Yukon Territory and tonight are in Watson Lake. As we dropped in elevation the temp came up to mid 60s. The suspect tire on the trailer got steadily more distended and worn on the side, so when we arrived here for the night I changed it. I figure that is better than fixing a flat on the side of the narrow roads. Now I only have the deteriorating tire for a spare, but think we will be OK. We have 270 miles to White Horse, and then 125 to Skagway where we catch the ferry. So only 400 miles to go. We have come almost 2800 miles since leaving Mentone. The Alaskan Hwy was bumpy for about 200 miles over the Rockies, but other than that stretch the road has been better than I expected.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday April 28

The overhead sign on the highway to Lynden, Washington said the wait at the border was 50 minutes. Shades of San Ysidro. We parked for the night at Herm and Joan's and arrived at the border in the morning when there was no wait. The first question the border inspector asked was, "Where are your firearms?" I answered, "At home." By design they aren't friendly and are watching body language during the questioning. He asked if we were transporting anything. I said we had some construction materials in the 5th wheel, but I guess it looked like an RV and he figured we couldn't get much in there. He never looked inside or he would have seen about 4000 lbs of building supplies and about 500 lbs of tools and hardware in the back seat of the truck, but the windows are dark and he never opened a door. We were in and out in about three minutes. That was a relief. I had visions of him making me unload the 5er to make sure we weren't hiding contraband. The rest of the day was spent going about 450 miles into Canada. Travel was slow because their season for repairing roads is short. We had to stop for about a dozen road repair sections. Tonight we are actually a bit north of "spring" in Prince George, British Columbia. No flowers up here yet and the grass has barely begun to grow. It's chilly tonight too. We have both electric heaters going and they only hold the inside temp even. Dinner tonight was simple but good. Mac & cheese with a can of tuna mixed in. It was still twilight about 9 PM. If all goes well we will be down by the coast where it is warmer in 3-4 days. I will probably do shorter days of around 300 miles once we reach the Alaskan highway tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week One

We left home on schedule Wednesday morning. 3.5 days later we are in Portland, Oregon. The 5er full of building materials is heavy. I rolled across a scale in Oregon and we weighed in at 22,900 lbs.. That's a lot of weight for the little Dodge diesel to pull up mountains. I replaced the front brake pads in Brawley's driveway Saturday afternoon. Otherwise the drive to Alaska seems to be normal. We hope to cross into Canada next Wednesday morning. I'm hoping we don't have too much hassle getting through customs. Something to pray about. But for now we are wrestling with and spoiling grandkids. Jonah did a fabulous job in a piano recital today. Hard for me to realize he has only been taking lessons for one year. If Elisabeth posts the video of his number I want to watch it again! And again!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Funnel Effect

We call funnel effect getting all the things done that need to be done before departure. It's like getting a lot of material through a small hole in a short amount of time. We are one week from heading north. Last Friday we loaded the 5th wheel with 4000 lbs of building materials. I still need to find space in the truck for all our tools. Lots of little things to arrange for like mail, bill forwarding, and yard maintenance.

The header picture was photo-shopped for a column in the dune buggy club magazine. I couldn't resist writing a buggy spoof about what we will be doing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Soft Rock

I thought I was a bit dizzy Sunday (Easter) afternoon. After about ten seconds I realized it wasn't me, we were feeling an earthquake. From what we are hearing on the news we are about 200 miles north of the epicenter so it was pretty strong to reach way up here. We rocked for about thirty seconds.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

On a Time Line...

Where has the time gone? We leave in less than three weeks. We have a ferry reservation so are now on a time line. We need to be at the ferry appointment on time. That means requirements and obligations in California can't be procrastinated. The cabin roof will be ready for pickup next week. Then it's time to load the rest of the supplies, windows, and tools. Total weight we will be hauling should be around 23,000 lbs! That is heavier than we have ever hauled. We are both excited and a wee bit nervous. I am seldom afraid of the unknown, but that doesn't mean there isn't a healthy respect for uncertainty. There is always more security and fun doing something with a group rather than on our own. But we are committed and press on.