To help pass time I started reading aloud to Darren while he drove. This helped keep both of us awake and being the book was really good helped a lot too. I read an old Matt Helm book to him. The Menacers, by Donald Hamilton was what it was called and it was from the 1960's era. This book is one of a series and all about a U.S. secret agent. Very realistic, very fascinating. I gave the characters voices and expressions. I paused when there needed to be a pause, I gave as much life to the words as I could to make it as interesting for him and for me as possible. This made it a lot of fun. I tried to read facts about the towns we were driving past such as population statistics, historical events, dates, etc. But he found that kind of information very boring.
Speaking of statistics, here are some that I found very interesting about Watson Lake, Yukon Territory courtesy of the Milepost Magazine (aka Bible to Driving the Alaska Highway):
Elevation: 2,265 feet
Climate: Average Temperature in January is -16 F (-27 Centigrade), in July 59 F (15 C)
In January 1947 the record LOW was -70 F (-59 C)!! NEGATIVE 70! I get cold just thinking about it.
In June 1950 the record high was 93 degrees F (34 C).
Annual Snow fall is 90.6 inches
Average date of last spring frost is June 2
Average date of first fall frost is Sept. 14
Watson Lake is also the home of the famous Sign Forest where there are more than 60,000 signs. We didn't stop. Darren said it was silly... kind of like going to see the largest ball of yarn. I disagreed. haha We refueled in Watson Lake for some ridiculous amount of money and continued on. Our goal was to get to Port Alcan, also known as the border back into the U.S.
We passed through a beautiful little town called Teslin. The bridge was one of the prettiest bridges to cross so I took some pictures.
After Teslin, as the scenery began to get more exciting we were headed for Whitehorse. I still hadn't had any cell phone service and I hadn't spoken to my parents in over a day. I was hoping they weren't beginning to think we'd gotten eaten by a bear or stranded, or both so I was anxious to let them know I was okay. The population in Whitehorse is over 24,000 so I figured I could call my parents from there. Whitehorse was another 5 hours from Watson Lake.
Whitehorse was an interesting town. You had to actually drive down a couple miles off of the Alaska Highway to reach the town. It seemed to be quite a large city with quite a bit of traffic. But.... no cell phone service. So I used a pay phone to make my call. $8.50 to make one long distance call from a pay phone for a couple minutes. Ouch! Had I known that I would have service almost instantly once across the U.S. border, I would have waited. Live and learn. We fueled again in Whitehorse and charged forth for Port Alcan.
Port Alcan was about another 6.5 hours drive, but there's no town at Port Alcan, just a border crossing. Tok, the first town once back in the U.S. was another 1.5 hours after that.
The section of road past the Canada border station but before the U.S. border station was the worst section of road ever. It seemed like neither country wanted to claim that section of road and therefore did nothing to it. The road was really bumpy. Not pothole bumpy really but it was like the land under the asphalt had rolled, heaved, thawed and defrosted and this just demolished the once smooth asphalt. There were no lines to follow, no signs except for the one that said 100 km/hr but there was no way you could travel at 100 km/hr. By this time it was dark outside and with the road in such awful shape, 60 km/hr was about as fast as one could go on that messed up road.
When rolled up at about 2 a.m. to Port Alcan. We were stopped at the red light they had out front and waited. The lights came on in the station and you could see a couple of border patrol agents moving around. I wondered if they had been sleeping and I hoped they wouldn't take their lack of sleep out on us. After a few minutes our light turned green and we slowly pulled up to the agent. As we rolled up we could hear something rolling around in our front hubcap. The agent heard it too and commented, "Sounds like you got a rock in there." We handed him our passports, he asked some of the same questions as the Canadian agent had asked. He informed us that the gas stations in Tok were closed until morning. He went inside to scan our passports and while he was doing that, Darren jumped out to pop the hubcap off to see what the noise was all about. Apparently we had cracked and broken one of the lug bolts. Thank goodness the wheels had five so we still had another four to hold the wheel on. The agent came back out and gave us our passports back and we continued on.
By this time we were really tired. Darren had been driving for the past 4 or so hours and I was way too tired to take over so we drove for about 20 miles and found a quiet spot to pull off and sleep. We were finally back in the United States. Not to knock Canada really, but it was just nice to see speed limit signs that we fully understood and it was amazing how much nicer the pavement was and how bright the lines were. It just felt good.
We let Kenai out to run around, fed her and then snuggled up in our blankets in the truck and fell asleep. The next day was Sunday and we had to be to Anchorage that Sunday night to pick up the family. So far we were making good time.
Thanks for reading as always.
P.S. Don't forget to come visit my shop. www.impulseART.etsy.com