Road Trip to the Alaska Highway

In late April of 2014 I set out from home in Grayling on a Thursday morning and headed up to the UP, then through Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. I headed into Canada in the province of Saskatchawan and went west and north. On the following Thursday night I arrived in Healy, Alaska after incredible 3822 mile drive. I can’t wait to do it again! Here’s the story.

April 25, 2014 at 7:15am

The time as come and I am off on an adventure I have wanted to do for a long time, follow along as if you like, I will update with pictures and info as I can…

Thanks for checking in. Pete

April 26, 2014 at 8:27am

Good Sunny Morning from Crooskston Minnestoa, its not to far west of Thief River Falls, I sure would have loved to go in there to see the Arctic Cats being built. Left Frederic yesterday morning about ten and my first stop was the all new Giant Hot Dog in Mackinaw City, I had heard about it but for your viewing pleasure there is a picture below. You wont miss it next time you go north. They aren’t open yet but you can bet I will go there when they are. Still a lot of ice in the sraiights of Mackinaw. Headed west on US 2 out of St Ignace and made another stop to see my friend the Bulldog Bob Blevins in Engadine. I have written about him before, he is the guy that has the Old Warriors Camp for Veterans and I also stopped at the New snowmobile museum in Naubinway. I cant say enough good stuff about that place and how cool it is. You really need to stop and see it on your next trip to dah u.p. Still snow along the roads in the U.P. in parts and I talked to Don at Fox River Motel and he said they are going to trailer out to an area outside of Seney and go riding one more time today. He told me he would send me some pictures from today so hopefully I will have some for my next update. At the far west end of the u.p. and well into Wisconsin you can still see sled tracks on the lakes and in the snow on the sides of the roads. I made it driving till about 1 a.m. and just like the mountain man I stopped and took a nice 4 hour nap in the truck, but I think I did one thing the mountain man wouldn’t do and I did go into the rest area and brush my teeth…..Lots of flat farm field area around here. Off from Mickey D’s to head more west on US 2. Hardly any traffic last night or this morning so far. Thanks for checking in. Pete

April 27, 2014 at 11:20am

Its raining, sleeting, snowing and hazy outside. I am somewhere about 100 miles west of Saskatoon Saskatchawan at a mcdonalds. Made it thru north Dakota yesterday thur endless miles of farm fields and equipment sales places. Thru Minot and up to a place called Portal where I crossed into Saskatchawan. They gave me the hard look over at the border which took about 45 mintues. They searched all the way thru the trailer and truck and then gave me the o.k. to go on thru. Its the same here as north Dakota with large or should I say huge farms and lots of farm equipment along with some big mining operations. I stopped in Lanigan to visit a guy I have talked to on the phone for ten years but I have never met him in person. He is another collector and fan of Fred Bear like I am so it was nice to see his collection and talk with him and his family. From there I just kept on heading west. I am gradually going to start heading a lot more north after I get past Edmonton….Just cruising along and putting on some miles…..I am only about 1600 miles in so far so I think its going to be a while yet….I did take a wild picture of this thing for sale in someones yard, they put a ton of work in this, rear engine with 2 car rear ends in it…they should have used a cooler car.Saskatawan. The scerenery should change to more than just flatlands …Thanks for checking in. Pete

April 28, 2014 at 9:36am

Whitecourt Alberta is where I stopped for the night, I am about 1900 miles into this, I think I am about a month late being here as the sign at the entrance to town says Snowmobile Capital of Alberta…..darn always a day late and a dollar short. I have to say a big WOW about Edmonton, that is one big bustling and growing town. No recession there, new highways being built everywhere, new tall builidngs and much other new construction going on. I had to stop at the Edmonton Mall just to make my daughters jeaulous, they would love going to that place….It used to be the biggest in the world but now its in third place passed up by Mall of America and the big mall in Dubai, and all places are owned by the same guys…..Scenery is starting to get more rolling hills and whitecourt is dominated by oil companies with trucks and workers everywhere, most trucks caked solid with mud and the motels say take your muddy boots off before coming in. There are 5 motels several stories tall being build right around this place that I am at and this place is brand new……Nice to see people working and making a decent living around here. So I am about 200 miles from the British Columbia border and now I will start gaining some major longitude as I turn and head mostly north. If you look on a map and see how the lay of the land is you will see what I mean. Getting all this windshield time gives you a lot of time to listen to music and to think. Several times I have stopped and go to holler to get the beagle out of the truck as she is always with me. I had a white bag laying on the passenger side seat and I would see the white out of fhe corner of my eye and think it was her fat belly laying down there. I have also spent a lot of time thinking about my mom. Its been just over a month already since she left us and I have had many memories of us going over all the years and the last few weeks I spent with her. After her funeral it was almost like I ran away because we had our vacation planned and then now I am on this trip but thoughts of her are still always there and it still hurts a lot. One of the last things she said to me a few days before was that she loved me and that she was sorry for putting me thru this. I told her don’t be sorry and that I liked taking care of her…..but I do have to say we did have fun watching bonanza and gunsmoke……well I better get moving and see what cd’s I can find to listien to today. Thanks for checking in. Pete

April 29, 2014 at 10:50am

Its a sunny morning in Fort Nelson British Columbia. Only made it about another 500 miles yesterday and that puts me up to about 2600. Been thru some pretty steep grades and as I started heading up out of Dawson Creek first there was some snow on the south side of the road that made it thru the shade but the higher up I went the snow started up on the north side of the road and then it looked just like winter even though it was 45 degrees out. I did see one moose and 2 (not sure if it was wolves or coyotes). Hopefully much more wildlife to come. So I passed thru the rest of Alberta yesterday into BC and should pass thru all of this into the Yukon Territory and hope to make it to Watson Lake if not further. Time to hit the road. Thanks for checking in. Pete

April 30, 2014 at 12:55am

What a day, beautiful out, nice and clear and lots of wildlife. Started out from Fort Nelson this morning heading out across the Canadian Rockies. First thing I saw was a big black spot up ahead on a hillside and sure enough it was a black bear. Saw so much today, mountain sheep, mule deer, caribou, and lots and lots of buffalo. The buffalo had many young ones with them. I talked to one guy that said he saw a mountain lion. I have wanted to drive the Alaskan Highway for a long time and finally it is coming true but I discovered today that I do not set my goals high enough. As I rounded a curve I came up on a guy walking pulling a small cart behind him. Now this road is 2 lane for 1500 miles with very few places with a business let alone a place to stop. I pulled up along him and said hi and asked him if he was out for a morning walk. He was happy to stop and talk but his broken English came thru as he said he was from Japan. He said he started walking a month ago in Dawson Creek at the start of the highway and is walking to Fairbanks. I wish I would have got his name but wow what a walk. I figured he is almost a third of the way when I saw him .I need to think bigger. Also stopped at a natural hot springs which was a great stop, very warm and it just comes out of the ground. The heat seemed to fluctuate and sometimes almost to hot. So here I am in Watson Lake, only 300 miles from where I started this morning. I am going to try to get up early and maybe make it a bit further tomorrow. Thanks for checking in. Pete

May 2, 2014 at 12:33pm

I arrived last night about 9 at Alaskan Spruce Cabins in Healy, only 3822 miles from Frederic. Keep in mind its four hours behind here so its still morning. I will kind of take off from where I left on my last update. I had spent the night in Watson Lake where the sign post forest was and kept on heading west. I left early in the morning so I could get some miles in and besides all the beautiful scenery it was a pretty uneventful day as I only spotted one caribou and that was right in front of the truck on the run but I missed him and then the only other wildlife that day was 2 grizzly bears standing along the road eating. That was very cool and they didn’t mind me stopping to take pictures. The bear, buffalo and caribou hold pretty still for you but the moose and deer take off before you can get a picture. Making that 1500 mile run across the Alaskan highway there isn’t much traffic this time of year and you kind of keep running into the same people. Many of them heading this way to work for the summer. My friend Doug owns these cabins here in Healy and they are 11 miles from the entrance to Denali National Park where Mt McKinley is. This is big tourist territory but I will touch on that later. Doug is from Grayling and it was his truck that I drove out here to him. Yesterday I was in Fairbanks most of the day. I have a t shirt customer there at Reflections, they have been I believe my oldest t shirt customer since about 1990. I set up office there to do some work and hang out and visit for a while. Then it was off to the Turtle Club outside of Fairbanks for a great prime rib. I will post some pics from the past couple days next. Thanks for checking in. Pete

May 3, 2014 at 1:00pm

Its a sunny Denali morning. Kind of in the low key mode now for a few days. Spent the day yesterday out four wheeling and exploring the area. Found a riverbed with some heavy snow on it and rode down that, I figured that’s the closest I will get to snowmobilng on this trip. Rode down to the Nenana River and it is flowing very fast and just sat and watched the huge ice chunks floating by. Saw one moose but of course he wouldn’t hold still for a picture. Then last night Doug and I went for a ride up high into the hills where you could see the river and ice bergs from way up above and see how the train tracks winds it way around the mountains. That was a great ride and view. So that’s about it for now but I will paste a few pics but one of them where it looks a little dusky I took last night just before I went to bed at 11. This is the land of the midnight sun and Doug said they gain about 9 minutes of daylight everyday and it will get to a point where it is daylight all night. It was already getting light at 4 when I was up. Doug cooked up some great steaks on the grill last night and he is a great host treating me to a first class experience. Today is going to be truck and trailer washing day. Thanks for checking in. Pete having a bit of trouble on pics, they are coming shortly, So I finally got pictures on here and the one that was giving me troubles was the one from 11 last night. I will have to try it again tonight. Anyways for the people in grayling I took picutres at the high school here in healy yesterday and thought it was very cool that they are the Vikings just like in Grayling. Love their big carved one out front.

May 4, 2014 at 11:12pm

Just been hanging out today, its all the way up to sunday afternoon. This morning started out rough but I will start at yesterday. We took off and had an incredible day of riding four wheelers. We ;put some miles on and rode up some pretty steep mountains, crossed some fast rivers and rode some snow that was still on the river beds and to top that off it was 80 degrees out. Yes I said 80 degrees. Just breath taking views when you are up there like that. We got back just in time to go over to a friend of Dougs who was having a cook out and birthday party for Tony. And of course the cook out were some nice big juicy steaks. I have been eating pretty good here. After that we came back and rode the 4 wheelers a couple blocks up to the Totem Inn at the corner. That was the Saturday nightlife in Healy, they have a what is commonly known as a mechanical bull there but this is Alaska and they have a mechanical Grizzly Bear, try and ride that. Doug left before me and I rode a different trail back, and I shouldn’t have as there was a mud hole there that pretty much swallowed my machine and of course with me trying to get out I fell into the mud too….not a pretty picture. So I walked back home and first thing this morning Tony and I went back up there with the other four wheeler which had a winch on it. Well guess what we got that one stuck too and had to use the winch to pull itself out and then get my machine out. The rest of the morning was spent power washing the machines and I even power washed all my clothes off to get the mud off them so I could put them in the washing machine. So that’s the excitement for now. Just a low key day today so I might lay off updates for a day or so. Thanks for checking in. Pete

May 8, 2014 at 1:51pm

Well I hated to do it yesterday but it was time to move on from the awesome time I had with Doug at Alaskan Spruce Cabins and his superb hospitality. I really have to thank him for the opportunity he gave me to make that journey across the Alaskan Highway and everything he did for me. And to boot his mom was great too and fun to talk to. We spent the day Tuesday going up to Fairbanks to get supplies and pick his daughter up from the airport. One thing about living in remote towns in Alaska is when you go to get supplies you need to stock up for a couple months as from Healy to Fairbanks is 125 miles or if you want to go to Anchorage its 250 miles so you just don’t run to town for a gallon of milk. So yesterday morning I sadly said good bye and headed south with my new friend Big Jim. The great thing about Jim was that he is also friends with my friends Jeff & Laura who live in Valdez and he grew up in Cordova and was also friends with the great Captain Ed Bilderback since he was a kid. And we discovered this just in general conversation as we were driving along. Seems like a small world sometime. Talkeetna is a small little town about 100 miles south of Mt McKinley and this is the staging are for the climbers that want to climb that mountain. They fly out of here to a base camp at 7,000 feet so they can start their climb. I guess it would be the same as Nepal where people start their journey up Mt Everest. Pretty cool little town with several little bars and eating establishements, once again I am going to try to post a pic I took of main street last night and it was ten after 11 when I took it. Still pretty daylight out. So off from here at Latitude 62 in a little bit to head on a bit more south. Thanks for checking in. Pete

May 9, 2014 at 2:18pm

Its a sunny morning in anchorage, Just before As I was having breakfast yesterday morning in Talkeetna I was talking to a lady in there and she said she was from Cheboygan and of course that makes me think of bois blanc island. She said she lived there for 5 years and she knew all the people that I know there but then the cook in the place I related to my old friend Victor there on the island. It just amazes me how you run into people that make it seem like its a small world. We had a nice talk about the island and then I was off on the shuttle towards Wasilla where I met a nice young kid named Alex who said I could ride with him from the corner to Wasilla, He is a pilot in Talkeetna and he was on his way to pick up a plane. He said he had to stop to do paperwork at the willow airport and I said I would just go look at planes. That was pretty neat looking at all the different planes. The close ups I took of the yellow plane you can see the skis they lower down when they land on the snow up at mt McKinley for the climbers. After we got to Wasilla I caught the valley shuttle that takes you right into anchorage where I met up with my old neighbor GGs daughter, Christa Gothro who has been living here in Anchorage for a couple years. We had a good time last night and now I am on the downhill slide before I have to leave…Darn time to go back to work…..Thanks for checking in. Pete

May 12, 2014 at 3:47pm

Home Sweet Home in Michigan, Cathy & Haley picked me up at the Traverse City Airport Saturday afternoon and I went home and slept, but got up in time to take my girls down to the lake for a little bow fishing where we landed a couple of suckers. Then sunday morning we were up early to go to the airport again to take Melissa for her journey to New York City, so we did get to see an awesome sunrise over grand traverse bay and her plane left at 7:30. Then back to grayling again where I swear I slept most of the day again. I made it here to Frederic today at 11 and am starting to get caught up on both work and sleep. If you remember last month I talked about my new friend Gordon who I met at the campgrounds in Traverse last month and he said he was going to drive to Alaska too, well he called me yesterday afternoon and I met up with him and his dog Kai Ushe as they passed thru Grayling on their way t Alaska, he is pulling a camper and planning on a six week trip and that makes me a bit jealous. I wished him and Kai Ushe a happy Journey and they were on their way. It was good to see him on his way. A couple pics of Gordon and his rig and the dog too below.

My last day in Anchorage I went and rented a car so I could drive around as my plane didn’t leave till 9:30 at night. Had a good time checking things out and then found a bicycle rental place downtown. Pablo was quite accommodating and I rented this fat tired bike he had that I just loved and rode all around downtown and the coastal trail which was very nice. Then it was time to take the car back and presto, 12 hours later I was in Traverse city. A bit faster return than the drive out there. Overall it was an excellent experience and I surely thank Doug for giving me the opportunity to make that journey out there. So here are a few last pictures and the sunrise pic I took in TC, Thanks for checking in. Pete

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