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Old 07-01-2013, 11:38 AM   #11
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Re: Nissan SMB

Installment 2 (5/9-13/13)

Crossing into Canada is no problem, as long as you do not have more than $10,000 cash, drugs, alcohol or firearms. Any of the above will move you into another line. We weren't asked about our dogs, but you might if your dogs alert on strangers. (Ours have become accustomed to strangers asking about the NV all the time. I imagine they would give a thief a tour.) You are required to have a certificate of good health for your dogs, not you. They may or may not ask for it; we crossed into Canada 3 times and were never asked. (We thought our vet would simply print out their vaccination history and scribble "in good health." No, we had to have a state certificate ($40 each) of good health, similar to what breeders and show dogs need.)

Took route 4 to the Lethbridge, Alberta visitor center. Stop at as many visitor centers as you can to get road/camping info and brochures. We then went to the bank to get Loonies, Toonies and assorted bills for public campgrounds and the odd gas pump that would only take cash. Never had to pay cash for gas, but our credit card would not work at the pump. Had to go inside.

Took route 2 toward Calgary, getting off on route 785 to go to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a world heritage site. (There are other jumps in the lower 48.) Planned to stay in a nearby, private RV park, but it was closed, for sale and the owners were traveling. The Mile Post showed it was open. This would not be the only time this happened. Got back on route 2 and headed for Calgary. Stopped in High River to stay in their municipal park. (We have all had this happen; we see the "travel trailer" camping sign before the exit, never to see another sign after you exit.) It took awhile to find the park. We learned 2 things: Avoid "stickies," black cottonwood tree buds that fall to the ground and stick to and stain clothes, vehicles and dogs. The other was that Canadian camp hosts winter in Quartzsite and Yuma.

In Calgary, we took the Trans-Canada Hwy to Banff and stayed at Tunnel Mountain Campground. Lake Louise was open but had the bear or is it human enclosure. You pay a fee to drive in and a fee to camp but the views were spectacular. The showers were free.

We then drove on route 93, Icefields Parkway toward Jasper. The weather got progressively worse.

To be continued.

Sorry about the quality/size of the photos. With a mac, this is the only way I can attach them.
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Old 07-01-2013, 03:37 PM   #12
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Re: Nissan SMB

Keep the pics a comin' we are enjoying your trip report even if a little jealous.
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Old 07-01-2013, 07:41 PM   #13
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Re: Nissan SMB

Thanks. Showed my 92 year old mother the photo album and she almost fell asleep. Should have insisted she had caffeinated coffee while we were at B&N.

Installment 3 (5/13/13)

Just south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway is Athabasca Falls. Be sure to pull in and take the short walk to the falls. The weather improved briefly when we were there.

By the time we got to Jasper it was raining hard. We camped there. Most interesting thing was the elk grazing near the shower facility and in the playground.

In Jasper, you have a choice, east or west on route 16 to get to Dawson Creek, the start of the Alaskan Hwy. We went east to to the junction of routes 16 and 40. Route 40 to Grande Cache and Grande Prairie is the first of the really narrow, no shoulder roads. You also share the road with logging trucks and gas exploration etc. trucks. There are lots of side roads, but most if not all go to drilling sites.

We went to Grande Prairie to go to the Nissan dealer that sold NVs to get a 7500 mile oil change and quick check of NV. The commercial fleet manager went wild over the conversion. (Canada must be the RV capital of the world, both in terms of manufacturers and owners. There are many huge motor homes, but it seems the most popular are the 45' 5th wheel, carry everything trailers, pulled by the largest, twin turbo, chipped 4x4 trucks you can buy. We found this out on "the 1st long weekend," Victoria Day. We were told to find a place on Thursday and stay there through the weekend.) Back to the Nissan dealer. He had inquiries about converting NVs. So, I gave him one of the "SMB NV postcards" and Alan Felds' info. Stayed in the Rotary campground in Grande Prairie. Not remarkable, but it was part of a park where you could walk, in our case walk our dogs.

We had our first encounter with locked shopping carts. They are chained together and you have to put a loonie in a slot and push it in, so it pushed out the locked chain on the other side. You get your loonie back by reversing the process when you return the cart. Can't tell you how long I stared at this...

Take route 43 out of Grande Prairie to Dawson Creek and route 97 to start the Alaska Highway.

To be continued.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:28 PM   #14
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Re: Nissan SMB

Installment 4 (5/14/13)

It's an 86 mile drive on route 43 to Dawson Creek, milepost 0 (both of them) of the Alaskan Hwy. We drove 2,491 miles to get there. Be sure to go to the visitor center and the nearby, Old Fashioned Bakery.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:44 PM   #15
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Re: Nissan SMB

Installment 5 (5/14/13)

Finding mileposts was a real challenge. Around 20 miles down the road, look for a sign for the Kiskatinaw River Bridge on the historic hwy. Cross the bridge and continue on to loop back to the Alaska hwy. This is the only original timber bridge still in use on the Alaska hwy. A similar bridge was destroyed by an arsonist in the '90s at the Sikani Chief River.
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:04 PM   #16
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Re: Nissan SMB

Installment 6 (5/14/13)

Stop and/or stay at the Sikani River Campground, a small RV park. The owner has historic photos of the camp and various bridges that were built there by African American soldiers in 1942. There also are the remains of a semi truck that didn't negotiate the turn on the other side of the river from the campground. The owner didn't know when the semi crashed.

There is a new concrete bridge downriver that is used today. Much of the route has been improved, and it is not always clear when you are on the original.
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:01 AM   #17
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Re: Nissan SMB

Installment 7 (5/15-17/13)

If you like hot springs, camp at Liard River Hot Springs BC. $20 to camp and use the springs, or pay the $10 day use fee. The upper pool is closed. According to one local, it was closed because a bear killed someone. I also heard it was much hotter than the lower pool. Nevertheless, the Wardens (Rangers) were setting off "bear bangers" to keep bears out of the area. Didn't bother a bull moose.

One of the best visitor centers was in Watson Lake, Yukon, at the Sign Post Forest. (Mainly interesting for what people steal from all over the world to tack up. Also made you wonder how they transported it.) You will be on route 1 in the Yukon as long as you stay on The Alaska Highway. The staff really knew what info and brochures to provide based on where you thought you were headed; we made some changes after talking with them. Also take the time to check out their displays.

Another sign of spring is road repair and long waits for guide vehicles when roads are reduced to single lanes. The most annoying were the traffic light systems. Both sides seemed to just sit there. Flag people managed it better. Don't bother washing you vehicle.
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Old 07-05-2013, 03:39 PM   #18
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Re: Nissan SMB

Installment 8 (5/18-19/13)

The Cassiar Hwy (route 37) joins the Alaska hwy about 15 miles north of Watson Lake. (The Cassiar was the way we went home.) At Jakes Corner, you can get fuel, and take Routes 8 and 2 to get to Skagway, where you can catch a ferry to Haines and return via route 3 to Haines Junction on route 1. We decided to stay on the Alaska Hwy. Since it was "the first long weekend," all the just opened campgrounds were full and 2 of the "open" RV parks were closed and for sale. We ended up in Whitehorse, 388 miles from Liard Hot Springs. This was longer (photo taken at 2230) than we planned to drive, but the Caribou RV Park was worth it. It is about 5 miles south of Whitehorse. You will not believe the bathrooms/showers, particularly after what came before. The owner has a wicked sense of humor. He also has a truck wash on property "to put his children through college." (We stopped by to use it on our way home after driving the "Top of the World" and attempting the Dempster Hwy. More on that later.)

Whitehorse for most is a junction/decision town. We chose to remain on the Alaska Hwy, rather than head for Dawson (City) and the Dempster. "Top of the World" was not open yet, and it meant a long out and back trip. We took our time getting going the next morning; we bought groceries and went to the Alpine Bakery for a late breakfast and wifi access. We also stopped early (168 miles) at the Congdon Creek Campground on Kluane Lake, as there did not appear to be many options ahead of us. It was open and empty. The entrance sign said no tent camping due to bears and to boil your water. I expect the water spigots were as frozen as the lake. We found a spot in the trees that was sheltered from the wind coming off the lake. As for bears, a large Grizzly walked through the campground about 2 spaces from ours. Not interested in anything but where he was going. It started snowing but I forecast it would not stick.
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Old 07-05-2013, 04:00 PM   #19
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Re: Nissan SMB

Installment 9 (5/19/13)

It wouldn't stick, right? It was 23? outside (36? inside) and still snowing when we woke up. It was cold beautiful, and there were no bear tracks. We planned to drive to Tok, Alaska, but only made it to Beaver Creek, YK

The roads started out fine but became increasingly icy, so we stopped at Buckshot Betty's to have a hamburger and decide what to do. RCMP made the decision by advising everyone to stop. Only electricity was available at Westmark Resort RV Park (a stretch I know, but busses stopped at the actual resort. They even had a dinner show that night. I suspect they had water as well.), as everything was frozen. They did have water for awhile in the gas station, and we were able to do laundry and take showers until everything froze (16?). They also had wifi in the laundry room.
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Old 07-06-2013, 12:46 PM   #20
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Re: Nissan SMB

Installment 10 (5/20-22/13)

Temp was 27? at 0924 when we drove to the border. the road was still icy; they weren't plowed on the Yukon side. Crossed the Alcan border at 1000. You need your passport and be ready to answer if you have anything to declare, such as fruits and/or vegetables. (An apple at a later border crossing south of Creston, BC let us meet the agriculture inspector.) Yukon route 1 becomes Alaska Interstate 2, according to our navigator "eNVy." The road, still 2 lanes, was wider, plowed and it had a shoulder.

Our arrival at Delta Junction, the official end of the Alaska Highway, was anti-climatic. We continued on to Fairbanks. The visitor center in Fairbanks is a must visit. Everything you will need is under one roof. A state ranger gave us all sorts of trails to hike, if the roads were open to get to the trail heads and campgrounds. We stayed a couple of days at Tanana Valley Campground next to the fairgrounds. The art museum on the university campus is impressive.

From this point on while in Alaska, I'll just give the route we took and photos of things we found interesting.
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