Wednesday, 31 August 2011
August 31, 2011 Trip Wrap
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56 days total 9,407  road  miles + 741 water miles = 10,148 Total 550 gal diesel 16.79  avg mpg $2,404 fuel cost $4.37 avg cost/gal $3.66 $7.40 price range per gal $0.260 avg diesel cost per mile Filled up with propane once Generator was run for 4.6 hours Alaska Ferry $$1,127 + BC Ferry $1,285 = $2,412 Ferry cost per mile = $3.26
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Posted on 08/31/2011 8:33 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 26 August 2011
Aug 25 Day 56, Thursday, Rend Lake, IL to Aurora, KY
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This was our last day on the road. Tomorrow we will get the tires checked and a wash in Murray and put the View away in the storage shed. Tonight we are on the Katy Leigh for the first time since June. About the most interesting sight today on the road was the Kentucky Tourist Welcome Center in Paducah. In 1983 the state restored a beautiful old mansion, Whitehaven, beside I-24.  At one time it was owned and occupied by the mayor. It's well worth a stop. Next week I'll make one more post with the trip statistics.

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Posted on 08/26/2011 1:34 AM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 25 August 2011
Aug 24 Day 55, Wednesday, Carlock, IL to Rend Lake, IL
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Tonight we are at the Wayne Fitzgerrell SP on Rend Lake. The park was highly recommended by our friends Doc & Eileen. Doc said to get site 36, 37 or 49. However, with the park practically empty we got site 45 on the lake (see photo) and with DirecTV access. This is the first really hot day in the high 90s on the entire trip so the AC will have to run all night.

We started our trip out on the Lincoln Highway and today on our last full day on the road we headed south on the Lincoln Heritage Trail, US 51. We stopped for lunch in the second capital of Illinois, Vandalia. (The first capital was at Kaskaskia until 1820 ). Lincoln first appeared as a representative in the Illinois State Legislature in 1834.. This new building was the statehouse from 1836 to 1839 when the capital moved to Lincoln's home town, Springfield. We don't know if the furnishings were the original. Vandalia has more than one historic road. It is the HQ for the Historic National Road, US 40 which was built by the Federal Government starting in 1806 to enable development of the west. The road was corduroy and designed for Conestoga Wagons. I-70 pretty much follows the route from Baltimore to St Louis. The road ran through the capital cities at the time of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

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Posted on 08/25/2011 12:49 AM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Aug 23 Tue, Iowa City, IA to Carlock, IL
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We really liked the Colony Campground last night near Iowa City. It was well off the Interstate and close to the Hoover Presidential Library, Museum, and Birthplace. I chose the Kamp Komfort at Carlock for tonight because on the map it looked like it was well off the Interstate. It was a couple of miles from the interchange but turned out to be squashed between the Interstate and a railroad track.   We spent the morning with President Hoover in West Branch Iowa where he was born in a tiny house in 1874. He was orphaned at 10 and raised by relatives in Iowa and Oregon. He studied mining engineering at Stamford and got a job with a gold mining company in Australia. He soon found a rich seam and made a lot of money there and later with his mining consulting business. In WWI he gave up engineering and help figure out how to feed millions of starving children and families in Europe. Entering politics as Secretary of Commerce in 1921 he introduced regulation of such mundane but common items as tires. He was elected President by a landslide in 1928 but soon became the scapegoat for the market crash and depression and lost to FDR in 1932. Hoover never retired and wrote books in his Waldorf Astoria suite until he died at 90 in 1964. Speeches he gave in the 30's could have been given today. Little has changed in government.

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Posted on 08/24/2011 3:26 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Aug 22 Mon, Woodbury to Iowa City, IA
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There is not a whole lot to write about when all you can see for 260 miles is corn fields and soy beans as you cross Southern Minnesota and a good part of Iowa. However, in the tiny town of Spring Valley, MN I spotted a sign about an historic site involving Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the Little House on the Prairie series of books. About 17 months ago coming east across Missouri, we saw a similar sign in Mansfield. 

You can see the blog story here. This time we were in a town where Laura's husband, Almanzo, grew up. The Wilder family bought farm land here and donated money to build the church. Laura and Almanzo lived with his parents in Spring Valley from May 1890 to October 1891 while recovering from diphtheria. Records show they attended this church. Once again I have been inspired to read one of Laura's books. I hope they are on Kindle.

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Posted on 08/23/2011 2:02 AM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 21 August 2011
Aug 18-21 Wed-Sun, Brainerd & Woodbury, MN
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We have been staying with friends and family so there are not a lot of items of general interest for the blog; just lots of food, fun, and renewing relationships. In Brainerd, Gary had bought a new Ford Edge with all the "stuff". The crossover SUV is gorgeous inside and out and Gary loves the car except for one thing. Who at Ford in his right mind decided a joint project with Microsoft, Sony and Ford could produce a better radio, CD player, satellite receiver, temperature control, GPS, and lord knows what else into one integrated system. I learned years ago that integrated systems like this one often do nothing really well. We tried to integrate a phone with a computer at Nortel and it was a disaster. Well the Sync system is also a disaster. For example, every time you turn it on, it decides at random what settings to use. If you were previously listening to your iPod, when you restart, it forgets where your iPod was and starts up with a random satellite channel. You have to start all over again selecting what you want to hear. At times a big red warning is displayed saying the iPod has disconnected even though it continues working just fine. After shopping for groceries, when Gary started the engine the entire system locked up. Nothing would work at all; no radio, no AC, no GPS, no cell phone, or anything else. A week or so ago he had the same problem, took it into the dealer, and had to wait 3 hours while the firmware was upgraded to the latest issue. We drove over to the Brainerd dealer and as soon as we got inside, the unit started up. The service advisor said there have been a number of problems with the Sync and Ford is working on it. This has to be an all time understatement as the system has been around for at least a year. Growing up as a kid I was always interested in the comic book ads for the Sea Monkeys. 

A Nashville friend of mine's toy company now owns the rights to the Sea Monkey business, so I bought a kit for my grandson when I spotted it at Walmart. It was in the kitchen window and there they were happily swimming around in their little tank. (see photo above). Tomorrow we start a 4 day trip to Murray KY where we will put the View away and spend the weekend on the Katy Leigh on Kentucky Lake.

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Posted on 08/21/2011 7:04 PM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Aug 17 Day 47 Tuesday Casselton, ND to Brainerd, MN
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We spent the morning in Fargo, ND walking around downtown and then I went to the Radisson Hotel for the Fargo Rotary Club. Some members were impressed that we had come from Alaska and one wondered why we stopped in Fargo. When I said it was on the way and I had always wanted to visit after seeing the movie, Fargo. I learned that not a single frame of that movie was filmed in Fargo. The speaker was a state representative who has decided to retire and reported on what had been done in the last legislature. The major issue seemed to be funding the universities and the large number of universities in the state. She said like Tennessee they need to focus on paying for numbers of graduates not number of students. The smaller institutions should be left on their own to set their own fees. She also thought the state should invest in elearning and spend less on building facilities.. It was music to my ears. We drove about 130 miles from Fargo to Brainerd where we are staying with friends Gary and Susan. Gary and I worked together at Nortel in Minneapolis. Both of us left around the same time to start our own businesses. 

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Posted on 08/18/2011 2:34 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Aug 16 Day 46 Tuesday Minot, Casselton, ND
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The route today took us southeast on US 53 to I-94. We stopped at Casselton about 20 miles west of Fargo. We took only 28 photos, the lowest number yet for a whole day. Leaving Minot the flood waters still remain in the fields. We went buy the KOA and it must have been under a lot of water. We had to go out of our way to go through a number of beautiful old farm towns because US52 bypasses them. The home photo was taken in Carrington, ND. 

The wind was very strong today and as there were lots of clouds' shadows crossing road we were able to measure the wind speed at the clouds altitude.  We clocked the shadows moving at 45 mph.  The fields most of the way were covered with sun flowers and wheat. Only when we hit I-94 did we start to see corn. Now there were billboards that said "Be an American Use Ethanol", and "Ethanol Starts Easy".  It's hard to believe the stuff on  billboards today.

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Posted on 08/16/2011 11:22 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 15 August 2011
Aug 15 Day 45 Monday Glasgow to Minot, ND
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Last evening there were some big thunderstorms over Northern Montana and Southern Saskatchewan. From our campsite 55 miles south of the boarder the clouds were spectacular.

Since we lost an hour today we were up early and out at 7:00AM to see the Fort Peck Lake and Dam. 

The dam on the Missouri River is 21,026 feet long and over 250 feet high. It is the largest hydraulically filled dam in the US and the fifth largest man-made lake in the U.S., The lake is more than 130 miles long, 200 feet deep, and it has a 1,520-mile shoreline which is longer than the state of California's coastline. The shore line at the dam looks a lot like the California Pacific coast; strange in the middle of the prairies.   Crossing into North Dakota the place is booming with oil activity. 

Traffic is heavy and we passed a number of "lodges". These are mobile villages rented out to the oil workers. The Stanley Lodge at Stanley, ND boasts comfortable rooms with housekeeping, kitchen, laundry, and Internet. We also noted that North Dakota is not very tourist friendly. In over 100 miles of 70 mph highway there was not a single rest stop let alone somewhere to pull over and stop. At Minot we learned the KOA was closed until 2012 due to the flood. Other RV parks said they were full, but we did get a site at one that was not even in the directory. They said due to the flood they now only rent by the month, but as someone left this morning, I was able to get that site.

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Posted on 08/15/2011 11:26 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 14 August 2011
Aug 13 Day 43 Saturday Columbia Falls to Shelby, MT
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It's hard to write about the incredible scenery we saw today as we rode in a Dodge Sprinter Bus to the Mt Logan pass. It is much easier to just show photos, but there isn't room in the blog. I was able to sit in the front passenger seat with the best view by far. It is the first time I have been able to ride in that seat in a machine the same as our View.  The driver, Linda, was a school bus driver from Columbia Falls and does this driving job up and down the mountain 3 times a day, then does once more for fun at night to see the stars. Glacier National Park really has very few glaciers. We didn't see one.

The park has some 700 miles of trails.  The Highline Trail is a 12 mile trail from the Mt Logan summit that drops at least 3,000 ft.  It is just like the Grand Canyon trails. There is a cable arranged like a hand rail if you don't like looking down thousands of feet as you hike along a path that might be 3 feet wide.  We had lunch at the Macdonald Lodge with some nice people from Deland, FL. They are doing their travel in a Miata convertible like Mavis's.

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Posted on 08/14/2011 2:41 AM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 14 August 2011
Aug 14 Day 44 Sunday Shelby to Glasgow, MT
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Last night at the Shelby town campsite named, Lake Shel-oole, we looked out the dinette window and there silhouetted against the dimming sky were two horses. It was an almost surreal sight. In the morning I took a photo of the same hill. We really enjoyed the campsite; it was cheap at $18 with very good power, and quiet even on a Saturday night.     The hot weather has returned. The nights are cool but today it got up to 95 degrees driving east across the prairies, just 30 miles south of Canada. We smashed into thousands of grasshoppers at 60 mph. Only a few survived. Montana historic road signs are not the usual boring facts.  On our family's 1950 trip, my father wrote "The Montana Highways Department has a sense of humour, as we found when reading their markers for historic sites. Beautifully mounted in carved wood, these signs were well worth reading and usually contained a chuckle." We were not disappointed and even got a bonus extra at the sign in the photo. The sign says "The old West produced some tolerably lurid gunslingers. Their hole card was a single-action frontier model 45 Colt, and their long suit was fanning it a slip second quicker than similarly inclined gents". Later it goes on to describe "On July , 1901 Kid Curry and his partners, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Deaf Charlie, pulled off a premature Independence Day celebration by holding up the Great Northern Railway's No. 3 passenger train and blowing up the express car safe near this point. Montana's most famous train robbery netted the crooks a bag of gold coins and $40,000 in unsigned and worthless banknotes. Soon after, Curry and his gang departed Montana."

What was the bonus extra? If you look closely at the photo, you can see a man on a folding chair and his dog in the shade beside an old combine. While we were reading the sign, this shaggy looking guy came over to my window and wanted to talk. I asked him what he was waiting for and he said tomorrow! The combine was on its way to the recycle yard in Havre. He was desperate to talk to someone, so we learned it was a 1940's combine with an extra gas tank on top, and the rubber tired wheels had been added by welding a rim around the original metal wheels.  I hated to leave the poor fellow but we needed to move on.   Tomorrow we will visit the Fort Peck dam on the Missouri River and then stay at or near Minot, ND.

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Posted on 08/14/2011 11:04 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 13 August 2011
Aug 12 Day 42 Friday Yoho NP to Columbia Falls, MT
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Canada

Today we crossed into the USA at Roosville. It was an easy crossing with only a motorcycle ahead of us. The agent didn't even ask about what we had in the fridge. The contrast in scenery on either side of the border is remarkable. Canada is all green with irrigated fields growing vegetables. The USA is all brown with open ranges. I forgot to mention yesterday that for the first time traffic is very heavy on the Icefield Highway and all the facilities are jammed. For the first time since leaving Nashville I should have made a reservation to stay at the Lake Louise Campground.

At the Wasa rest stop we found Canadian innovation hard at work. Instead of the usual pit toilets, there was an enclosure that looked like a construction dumpster. There were openings at both ends one marked for women. The sides did not go to the ground and there were vertical cracks between each board and there is no roof. Not very private is your first reaction and how do you keep the rain off. However, go through the opening and you find plastic mostly enclosed pit toilets and a trash container on each side. Heading south today traffic was light but the campground in Columbia Falls is 100% occupied tonight. We arrived at 3:30 and got one of their tent sites with a weak15 amp power outlet. I learned there is no Columbia Falls. I guess the name just sounds enticing. Tomorrow we will visit Glacier National Park and take the shuttle buses. It seems our little View is too big to do the "Going-to-the-Sun Road". There are rock overhangs that could damage the roof. They measure each motorhome in the park. Then we will head 150 miles east to Shelby, MT.

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Posted on 08/13/2011 3:22 AM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 12 August 2011
Aug 11 Day 41 Thursday Hinton, AB to Yoho NP, BC
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Mechanic Dwight Norman called and agreed to come first thing this morning. He arrived at 8:20. It took both of us but we got the replacement Turbo Resonator installed and we were underway at 9:15 . . . and it worked.  It got a good test on some incredible mountain roads through the National Parks. Mountain peaks were countless today. The Icefield Highway compares very favorably to Denali. Denali has vast wilderness vistas and the Icefield Highway has mountains with narrow valleys and glaciers everywhere. At the Columbia Icefield (glacier) you could see what the ice left 150 years ago. Global warming was well underway in the middle of the 19th century.

We visited Chateau Lake Louise, a hotel I remember from our 1950 trip. I will try to dig out some of my fathers1960s- photos that compare to photos we took today. We were late finding a campsite and got some help from the Yoho Information Center. The lady said we should stay at Chancellor rather than Hoodoo because the campground had just been renovated and we would be beside a river. What she forgot to mention was we would also be beside the main railway line with trains about every hour.

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Posted on 08/12/2011 1:41 AM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 12 August 2011
Then and Now
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My parents visited the Columbia Icefield in 1969. The first comparison shows the Athabasca Glacier which has definitely lost a lot of ice. The second comparison shows the glacier to the left of the Athabasca. Dad had a sunnier day and a road has been built that takes busses to the front of the ice field. There is a little less ice in the middle but all in all not much has changed.

 

 

 

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Posted on 08/12/2011 4:53 AM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 11 August 2011
Aug 10 Day 40 Wednesday Dawson Creek to Hinton, AB
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It seems that it is a challenge to nail down the exact location of Mile "0".  Today's photo shows the official cairn for Mile "0" but the actual mile "0" is the center of an inaccessible traffic circle a 100 feet away. It was a long 287 mile day to Hinton made longer by the failure of our turbo resonator. When this part breaks the turbo doesn't get enough air and the engine computer involves LHM mode. LHM stands for "Limp Home Mode". It means you can't drive faster than about 40 miles and hour and 20 on steep hills. As you can see in the right hand photo we had lots of steep hills. I was able to reset the computer a couple of times but I think the leak kept getting worse so we limped into the KOA at Hinton at 4:30PM. I have a spare and if I can't get a mechanic to come and install it tonight, I will try and do it myself. So far I haven't got a call back. Hinton is close to the entrance to Jasper National Park. We stayed here in 2008.

It was also a slow day for photos. The best we could do is show the world's largest beaver statue at Beaver Lodge, AB. The lighting was bad so the best photo is of the world's largest beaver tail.

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Posted on 08/11/2011 1:10 AM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Aug 9 Day 39 Tuesday Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek, BC.
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Art Gallery Building in Dawson Creek

Tonight we have completed the 1,528 mile Alaska Highway and are staying a mile from mile "O".  Actually given our route we missed the 84 miles from Whitehorse to Haines Junction. The action today was all about oil and natural gas. The road was clogged with trucks carrying all manner of cargo including buildings. The RV parks are jammed with workers from the oil and gas compression fields. At a gas stop I talked to a man who commutes from Newfoundland to drive one of the trucks in the photo. His truck driver friend is also from Newfoundland. He works 3 weeks then gets 2 weeks off.  He parked his truck at 3:00AM beside the highway and stayed till noon at the Wonawon Lodge when I met him. He said the rooms are great and the food good. His company pays for his airfare since truck drivers are so hard to find here. The trucks carry a special sand that is used in fracking oil fields.  I forgot to ask where he picks the sand up but I know someone at our marina who I bet will know.

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Posted on 08/10/2011 3:43 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 9 August 2011
Aug 8 Day 38 Monday Liard River to Fort Nelson, BC
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A new record was set today at the Liard River Lodge diesel pump where diesel was $7.40 per gallon. I hope this record stands for a long time to come. In Fort Nelson diesel was ONLY $5.57/gal.     The left photo shows the only remaining suspension bridge on the Alaska Highway crossing Liard River. It was built in 1943. The drive today was through some very rugged mountain territory with a couple of passes over 4,000 ft. On the animal front we saw a large number of stone sheep and one female moose.

The big event was the Fort Nelson Museum with so much stuff stacked to the ceiling it should get an award from the Hoarders TV Show. However, right there in the middle of it all was my first car, a 1955 Studebaker sedan. The only one I have seen since 1963. Seeing that car was easily worth the admission charge. 

We have noticed quite a number of dead bison on the highway in spite of all the warning signs. Mavis took the photo of the bison catcher (like railroad moose catchers) on the front of a truck.  

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Posted on 08/09/2011 2:06 AM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 7 August 2011
Aug 6 Day 36 Saturday Whitehorse YT to Teslin, YT
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After a visit to the laundry, we left Whitehorse for Dawson Peaks RV Park & Motel, about 7 miles south of Teslin. The total drive on the Alaska Highway was 112 miles. Much of the trip is beside either the Yukon or the Teslin Rivers. There are mountains on either side of the highway. 

The road is first class; the best road so far since Haines, AK.  There is an available side trip to Atlin, BC that would be spectacular.  The Alaska Highway crosses the Teslin River on Bridge #416. It is one of only 3 permanent steel bridges on the Alaska Highway and was completed in 1944. A side road running 150 miles north to Ross River was built to support the Canol project, a pipeline to bring crude oil from the Northwest Territories to a refinery in Whitehorse. The truck was left along with a lot of other equipment when the project was  abandoned a couple of years later.

Teslin Lake runs straight for 50 miles north and south. It is a major flyway for birds migrating south from as far as Siberia. The long straight valley of Teslin Lake provides a migration corridor. It is also the longest Chinook salmon migration in the world. The fish swim over 2,000 miles up the Yukon and Teslin Rivers from the Bering Sea to spawn and die.

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Posted on 08/07/2011 1:26 AM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 7 August 2011
Aug 7 Day 37 Sunday Teslin, YT to Liard River, BC
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Many people believe the Alaska highway looks like the left hand photo. It did today for a few miles while a 10 mile stretch is being repaired. Look closely and you can see two cars ahead. There is an 18 wheeler infront of the first car. In actuality most of the Alaska highway looks more like the right hand photo. To give readers an idea of the traffic levels we kept a count of RVs for 3 hours and 135 miles. 

We passed 27 RVs headed north.  It works out to an average of one RV per every 5.0 miles. The most popular RV type was the trailer at 30% followed by Class A 21%, Class C 18%, Truck Camper 14%, 5th Wheel 13%, Class B 4% and Tent Camper 0%. 

At Watson Lake the town maintains the Sign Post Forest. It was started in 1942 by a worker on the highway from Illinois who put up a mileage sign to his home. At last count in 2010 there were over 72,000 signs. Tonight we are at the BC Campground, Liard River Hot Springs. There are no services, no cell phone, and no Internet.

The hot spring is about a 1/2 mile walk on a boardwalk into the bush. The water flows out of the ground on the left side of the photo and goes over a little waterfall at the end of the pool on the right. You start at the coolest point after the waterfall and work your way upstream until the water is just too hot. This is one of BCs most popular campsites and this is a holiday week but we got in at 4:30PM without a reservation. Out of 53 sites there were only a couple more empty. 

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Posted on 08/07/2011 7:02 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 6 August 2011
Aug 5 Day 35 Friday Carmacks to Whitehorse YT
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It was a short 111 miles to Whitehorse so we had time to shop and look around. A carton of 12 cans of Coke at the General Store in Carmacks last evening was $12. Today at Walmart in Whitehorse, just $4; it paid to wait. Mavis favorite place today was Murdock's in downtown.  I chose the S.S. Klondike. This paddlewheel steamer ran from Whitehorse downstream to Dawson City and during WWII on to Eagle in Alaska. It carried passengers and freight. On the return trips it was loaded up with silver ore at Stewart Crossing. Its last run was in 1959. In 1966 it was donated to the government and moved to its current site on the waterfront. Unfortunately a new bridge had been built which was too low to allow the vessel to pass under. It was hauled by 4 bulldozers on a steel frame along the main street sliding on slightly dampened Palmolive Princess soap flakes.  It is one of the best restored ships I have been on and the tour guide was excellent. She knew her stuff. For example; the ship cruised at 13 knots. The current in the Yukon River averages 5 kts so it went to Dawson at 18 kts, but came back at only 8 kts. It cost more to ride back because it took 3 nights aboard vs 1 night going downstream. Now, if it should run aground it could take 36 hours to get unstuck. In the worst case they used winches to anchors on the shore plus they could raise the bow with stud poles and let the river wash away the gravel under the boat. The S.S. Klondike is a National Historic Site operated by Parks Canada.   For the first time since we got back to Canada, the Verizon Global data service operated.

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Posted on 08/06/2011 3:22 AM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 5 August 2011
Aug 4 Day 34 Dawson City to Carmacks, YT
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Today's drive was 220 miles of mostly pretty boring terrain of scrub spruce trees. The good news is the road is paved and in pretty good shape if you can dodge the occasional pot holes. The first few miles out of Dawson run beside dredge tailings left years ago by a dredge like the one at Chicken. You don't realize the mess the dredges leave until you see it.  There are square miles that look like this. However, remember the dredges reject any rock over 1.5" including gold nuggets. Now people are walking over the tailings with mine detectors. One nugget was recently found this way 3 ft down and currently worth thousands.   After the tailings just before Carmacks is the Five Finger Rapids. It is quite a sight and there is a staircase that goes down the hill with a 1 km path to an overlook. The Five Fingers compare with Tower Rock on the Mississippi.  At Carmacks there is a boardwalk along the Yukon River. We won a certificate from the Mayor for walking the one mile length of the boardwalk. Tomorrow we go to Whitehorse.

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Posted on 08/05/2011 2:27 AM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 4 August 2011
Aug 3 Day 33 Chicken, AK to Dawson City, YT
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We took 4 hours to do the 110 miles of gravel and pot holes with a little pavement here and there on the Top of the World Highway. The highest elevation is 4,200 ft just past the border; most of the time we were at 3,000 ft. just below the tree line. As you move higher you get above the tree line and have gorgeous views of the streams and valleys. The road is only open in the summer so the border crossing is just a few small buildings on either side. Just after the boarder, we caught the caribou crossing the road and climbing the hill. At the end of the highway, there is a ferry crossing of the Yukon River at Dawson City. Dawson was a major port on the Yukon River which runs south to Whitehorse and west to the Bering Sea. It's the Mississippi River of the North. The river is very swift running at 7 mph. The ferry does a controlled crash on each side of the river to stop. A front end loader is constantly building a place for the ferry to load and unload. Dawson is an amazing place built for the gold rush at the turn of the 19thcentury. You are truly moving back in time as you walk the unpaved roads on board walks. We had a very good dinner at motorcycle friendly Klondike Kate's Cabins.

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Posted on 08/04/2011 2:36 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Aug 1 Day 31 Fairbanks to Tok AK
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Tok is the only place on the trip we have visited twice. Tomorrow we will go 70 miles to Chicken, AK and then on the next day to Dawson, Yukon. The highlight of today's drive was Rika's Roadhouse an Alaska State Park. Rika's Roadhouse dates back to 1909 and was a stopover place on a trail from Valdez to Fairbanks. It then became a telegraph station, and finally a trucker stop. Mavis was really impressed with the Rika's garden. It is planted in June and ends with the first frost which can be in July. Fortunately this year there has not be a frost and the garden was beautiful. The road from Fairbanks becomes the Alaska Highway at Delta Junction and soon after we saw our first moose. A female and her calf. Tonight we are at the Tok RV Village where we met with another couple, Nancy and Ed, from Ohio. They have a motorhome like ours. They both worked with AT&T and Bell Labs so we had lots to talk about. 

Cow Moose & Calf, Alaska HighwayOld Truck at Rika's Roadhouse

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Posted on 08/02/2011 4:15 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Aug 2 Day 32 Tok to Chicken, AK
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Chicken is 77 miles north of Tok. The road was pretty for the first 50 miles then deteriorated to patches and finally just gravel for the remaining 42 miles to the Canada border. Most of the 66 miles of Canadian road to Dawson City is paved. The main attractions in Chicken are the souvenir shops and the Pedro Gold Mining Dredge. The dredge is now on the list of historic places. We took the noon tour which was very interesting. The guide was a real student of gold mining dredges and knew the machine inside and out. Basically the dredge floats in a pond of water. A chain of buckets scoops up the old river gravel and dumps the gravel on a belt. The gravel then proceeds though a set of revolving sieves which remove all the larger stones including any gold nuggets 1.5" or greater. Then a panning operation removes everything except black sand and gold specks. A bucket of black sand and gold is then panned by hand to get the gold. In operation from 1959 to 1967, 55,000 ounces of gold were mined and sold to the government at $35 an ounce for $1.9M. The dredge operated 24/7 with 4 men per shift. It was powered by a pair of diesel generators that fed electric motors. This is a good place to note that several of the campsites we have stayed at in the Yukon and Alaska generate their own electricity. Here in Chicken there are no power  or phone lines. There is no cellphone service. The campsite does have limited Internet service via a Hughes Satellite but someone downloaded too much during the day and Hughes cut the park off.

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Posted on 08/02/2011 10:05 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 1 August 2011
July 31 Day 30, Fairbanks, AK
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Mavis toured the Georgeson Botanical Gardens and saw Harry Potter at the movie theater. I stayed aboard in the various parking lots and worked most of the day doing the company books and writing a proposal for a new project. Mavis took lots of great flower shots a couple of which are posted here. When we got back to the Rivers Edge RV Camp I spotted a pair of very serious touring machines. The two couples are from Australia and have toured that continent, Asia, Europe, and North America. They go home to Brisbane for a couple of months a year. Their units are on a Mitsubishi chassis with an Australian built body. They carry 60 gallons of fuel and are powered by a 4 cylinder diesel engine. Their next stop is Prodhoe Bay. The second photo shows a truck camper that just returned from Prudhoe Bay today on the "haul road". It took 14 hours in the rain and mud but daylight the whole way up and back. It's waiting for the pressure wash.

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Posted on 08/01/2011 5:04 AM by Bob Duthie
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