In 2010, we started to plan a road trip to Alaska, but something always prevented this from happening…work, other trips, family matters. So we put the idea on the back burner and hoped that one day we would be able to go. Our biggest obstacle was the fact that we would need at least a month to complete the trip and try to see everything we wanted to see. At the beginning of 2017, we learned that Canada was opening up all of their National Parks to free admission in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday celebration. It is also the 75th anniversary of the Alaska Highway, as well as the 100th birthday of Denali National Park in Alaska. There were too many things not to make this the year to go. In March, we learned that our youngest daughter, Jerie, would be working at a fishing lodge in Alaska until September. So we told her that we would come and pick her up. We had to re-arrange our summer work projects, and thanks to 2 very understanding owners, we were able to finish ahead of schedule. We had planned on leaving on August 23rd, but finally made it out of town at noon on the 26th.
We had been gathering our gear during the summer, but it took us 3 hours to pack and re-pack. We would sleep in the camper shell and cook our food using a propane stove/oven combo. We took 24 Mountain House meals, that only needed water added. This was for convenience as well as for weather. Being so late in the summer, we didn’t know what kind of weather we would encounter and wanted to be able to fix our meals quickly.
Before leaving, we stopped and had lunch at Arctic Circle, so that we would have cups to use as we were planning to drive to the “real” Arctic Circle on the Dalton Highway in Alaska. With a tentative plan, and 3 tours planned along the way we headed up 1-15 toward Montana. We took a picture of the mileage on the pick-up and we were off…Our first stop was Great Falls, Montana.
The smoke from the wild fires in Montana was thick in the air, but luckily by the time we got to Great Falls, the skies were clear. Lewis and Clark, who explored the Missouri River in the Early 1800s are honored with a statue.
Great Falls is named for an area 23 miles east of the city. Lewis and Clark called it the Great Fall of the Missouri. It has been altered by a dam that was built in 1915. There is a walking bridge to Ryan Island, where there is a picnic shelter as well as an exhibit called the electric stove house. Since the dam could produce hydroelectric power and the concept of electric stoves was a new idea, an exhibit was created to introduce these ideas. Kind of cool that they preserved it.
On the way back to the interstate, we saw numerous deer and a beautiful sunset. It was a great first day of our epic adventure.
After spending the night in a truck stop parking area in Shelby, MT we headed for the border to pass through customs into Canada and the province of Alberta.
As we drove to Calgary, we couldn’t help but think it looked alot like the plains of the United States, especially Nebraska. Lots of grass and wheat fields. Once in Calgary, we became lost and were having a terrible time connecting to the internet. Called our son the IT expert and we walked us through the steps…lol.
The Olympics were held in Calgary in 1988. One of the things remembered from that Olympics was the Jamaican bobsled team.
The skiing and bobsled venue has been turned into an adventure park. There is a water slide, mountain biking trails, and a luge. We decided on the luge, which is more like a mountain go-cart track. You ride to the top of the mountain on a chairlift.
Once on top, you are given instructions and free to “race” down the mountain.
It was a lot of fun…our next stop was the Calgary tower. This is like the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. It was finished in 1968 and named the the Husky Tower as Husky Oil had helped financed the construction. In 1971 its was officially changed to the Calagary Tower. A flame cauldron was added to the top for the 1988 Olympics. With the $18.50 admission price you are provided with a headset. Once on top, you can hear interesting stories about the tower as well as Calgary.
There is a glass floor that you can walk on to look down at the street. Cindy doesn’t like heights so Jim walked out on the floor, but he convinced her to lay down on the edge and take a picture.
We had great views of the city
We left Calgary and drove north to Edmonton. We stopped and cooked dinner at a rest area and then stayed the night in a truck stop parking area.
On Monday morning, we drove south of Edmonton and turned east. We wanted to drive through Elk Island National Park. With the admission being free, we had decided to try to go to as many national parks as we could. Elk Island is the largest, completely fenced Canadian National park. This is to keep the buffalo and elk inside the park, as the surrounding area is mostly agricultural and oil/gas operations. It covers 75 square miles.
We drove back to Edmonton, through Fort Saskatchewan you can’t but help to notice the grain storage as well as the oil production facilities.
One of the things we have tried to do in the United States, is visit the state capitols, so we made a brief stop at the provincial legislative building in Edmonton.
It was abit unusual, but people were swimming and playing in the reflecting pool and fountains. The building sits on a hill and the employees have to park in a lower parking area. Note the stairs…Jim commented that they are probably very fit. Our next stop was at the West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. There are endless stores, an amusement area…
a water park
a sea life exhibit and show
There were interesting sculptures and good food. The ice skating rink is currently under going an extensive renovation. We talked to several people who were spending their entire vacation at the mall.
After our enjoyable visit to the mall, we were already ahead of our schedule, so we made a decision to drive to Yellow Knife in the Northwest Territories. Jim has an old flip phone that was not going to work in Canada, so we put that away, filled up with gas and headed north toward Peace River. We got as far as Valley View. We found the city park and cooked dinner, Mountain House Stroganoff and carrots. We were right next to the pool and watched the end of the season Doggie Splash. This would be our last “warm” evening so we were enjoying every minute of it.
Tuesday morning we would drive to Peace River….