September 11, 2016

A 55 hour road trip. Seriously.

Moving your life from one part of the world to another, is not for the faint of heart! You pack up everything you own, which will not to be seen again for several months, say lots of goodbyes that you'd rather not say, and live out of suitcases, in limbo, for an unknown and unspecified amount of time. In our case, this limbo time also included a 55 hour road trip from Salt Lake City, Utah to Anchorage, Alaska, our new home. Crazy? Probably. But we couldn't resist the adventure.

The route we followed is exactly 200 hundred miles farther than driving from Los Angeles, to New York City. Talk about VAST!

After leaving Japan, we made a stop in Salt Lake City to visit family and buy cars, phones and other necessities, before hitting the road.

It was great to see family and reunite with cousins, even for just a short time.

We even saw a good friend from Japan, who just moved to Utah a few months prior. It truly is, as we say in the military, "a small Air Force."

Day 1
The first day of driving was rough. Thirteen solid hours of driving, and the highlight? A McDonald's ice cream cone in Butte, Montana. That's bad, folks.

Ah, the Canadian border, things were finally getting interesting.

Our first overnight was in the city of Lethbridge, Alberta, just across the Canadian border from Montana.

Day 2
Unloading and reloading the entire contents of our vehicle, every night, for a week, was a drag! Now, back on the road.

You'll be happy to know that Canadian Costco's are alive and well. We stopped at Costco for lunch in a few different cities, and enjoyed the regional snack bar additions of chicken strips, and poutine, a Canadian french fry and gravy dish.

 Eva liked the chicken basket, but I stuck with the tried and true hot dog.

Most of the Canadian countryside looked like rolling prairies, and hay bales.

Next stop, Edmonton, Alberta.

The pool and hot tub felt great after the long drive.

Not much to note here except some Swedish meatballs for dinner at Ikea, and reliving my childhood with the Lawrence Welk Show, in the hotel lobby. Good times!

Day 3
More rolling prairies. More hay bales. Hours upon hours of them.

And the first of many bear photo opportunities.

But, ahhhh, finally Tim Horton's, our favorite Canadian haunt. 

After chatting hockey with the locals, and savoring our coffee and donuts, it was time for more driving. (They really do have ice rinks even in the smallest of towns. Love it!)

And it was officially winter for me at this point. COLD! So I welcomed the hot drink.

But now the scenery was beginning to look more how I'd imagined.

These gals are traveling professionals at this point! They fare much better than I do.

Our next stop for the night was Fort Nelson, British Columbia, a very small town, practically in the middle of nowhere.

Throughout our travels, we've had some pretty spectacular views from hotel rooms; the Gulf of Thailand, Tokyo Bay, Victoria Harbour, etc., but, the girls were most impressed with the door-front parking of our small town motel. They thought this was the best idea ever!

And, the hotel water slide was an added bonus.

Day 4
The countryside was more beautiful and more interesting every day. We had to pull over from time to time to take in the majesty of God's creation.


When consulting our Milepost magazine, (a must-have in planning this excursion), Liard Hot Springs looked like a great destination for a pit stop. And it did not disappoint!

We ordered some lunch at the on-site food truck which was the only option available for miles, and the prices reflected that! Sticker shock aside, I loved that the cook was blasting Patsy Cline and I enjoyed singing along. It was the perfect mood music for this location.

The burger was fabulous and worth every dime! The Canadians do french fries very well, eh?!


There was a short walk to the hot springs area. 


This is always a comforting sight.

The hot spring itself, was a beautiful facility. You could even rent towels from the park ranger's office.


A nice changing room was available as well.

The water was HOT, but felt oh, so good!


This place was definitely a hidden paradise!


Due to the heat of the water, we had to take frequent breaks. I'd love to go back in the wintertime, but from what we heard, we'd be fighting for space with hundreds of buffalo. They love to camp out here in colder months. Who could blame them!


Liard Hot Springs was a lovely stop and was the perfect pick-me-up before logging more miles. I hope to return, though that would mean I would have to do this drive again, and not sure I'm ready to commit to that!

Speaking of buffalo, we saw lots of them just hanging out in the midst of the road construction.

We passed so much wildlife on this drive; moose, bald eagles, buffalo, caribou, deer, etc. And I have to admit, it was pretty exciting seeing these guys in the wild, too.

We stopped for the night in Watson Lake, a tiny little town in the Yukon Territory.

Watson Lake didn't have a stop light, but it did have the Sign Post Forest? We had to get a closer look.

Thousands of signs (almost 100,000 to be exact), have been brought here, and laid to rest.

Who started this anyway? A homesick G.I. was staying at Watson Lake in 1942, recovering from a war injury. He was given the task of erecting signposts in the town and added one to Danville, Illinois 2835 miles, his hometown. The idea stuck and has now snowballed.

There were signs from all over the world. I could have wandered here for hours!

I wish we had come prepared with a sign. Next time!

Our hotel owner called it the "largest collection of stolen property, on display, anywhere in the world." Well, that's something! 

For dinner we headed to Kathy's Kitchen for some home cooked food, and it was just about the only restaurant in town, at that. With our time in Canada coming to an end, Matt needed one last helping of poutine.

And we shared some pie for dessert. Coconut cream and the local saskatoon berry. I had never heard of saskatoon berry, which is similar to a blueberry in looks, but more tart. Yum!

Hotels along the Alaska Highway can be very hard to find during the summer months. If you don't book in advance, the entire town can be full and it could be hours to the next one. Matt booked the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake and it was....interesting.

Originally an old Air Force barracks during WWII, the lodge was restored in the same "barracks" style. The bathrooms were communal (separate men and women rooms), as was the shower area, but each sleeping room was private. At first I was not too excited about this set up, but everything was immaculate and well cared for and the owner was super friendly. Matt also really enjoyed visiting with the bikers in the shared living space. So in the end, I would stay there again.

Day 5
 We spent the next part of the trip traveling through Yukon Territory. Of course, every time I saw the word Yukon, I thought only of Yukon Cornelius. And after seeing the territory, his character makes SO much more sense!

We stopped in Whitehorse, Yukon's largest city, for lunch at Tim Horton's. Still dreaming of those Canadian maple donuts!

Whitehorse was a beautiful town and we enjoyed wandering the river walk area to stretch our legs.

The S.S.Klondike was also retired here, and we took the tour.

In the 1930's, this riverboat was the primary way that gold prospectors and settlers got goods in, and out of, this remote region. 

We enjoyed learning about what life would have been like during this time in history. The bottom level of the ship housed the boiler room and the goods, 

and the top deck had the kitchen, sleeping quarters and even games.

The views were incredible, as well.



Our final push for the day was to Haines Junction, Yukon, where we would spend our last night on the road.

Talk about breathtaking!

And another interesting little hotel, the Parkside Inn.

This one had a small kitchenette inside, which was fully stocked with breakfast items. I thought it was a great concept and very cute and clean.


 I took this picture at 9:30 at NIGHT! We were getting closer to the land of the midnight sun.

Day 6
 This was it. The final day of this very long road trip. By the way, anyone curious as to where the world's largest gold pan is? Look no further than Burwash Landing, Yukon.

We were stopped on several occasions for road work, which made for a good time to stretch our legs, but we were so anxious to reach our destination!


On U.S. soil again. Finally!


This sign was worth pulling over for. We earned this picture!

Even after our euphoric picture at the state line, we still had an entire day of driving to reach our new home. Joint Base-Elmendorf Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska.

The 55 hour road trip was such a long haul, and though I am not signing up for it again anytime soon, we are glad we had the experience. Now? The words on our biker friend's bumper sticker sum it up perfectly.....