Alaska Road Trip: Day 4

Driving through the night was tricky. We were still only averaging ten miles per hour, which meant we had to stop every 180 miles or so to fill up. Gas stations are few and far between along the highways in Canada, and even more problematic, they aren't open twenty-four hours. . . but we didn't know that yet. 

We were pushing it, but knew we had just enough fuel to get us to to Valleyview, Alberta, where our map program showed multiple gas stations. We arrived at 1:30 am and quickly spotted four. Two of them were cardlock stations, which we found out meant you had to be a commercial vehicle enrolled in their network to get fuel. The third one was not equipped with credit card readers on the pumps and was closed. We were relieved to see that the fourth was a large, modern gas station with card readers on the pumps. By this time, we were driving on fumes. We tried, unsuccessfully, to get gas from multiple pumps. And then we finally noticed a sign: "Gas pumps are shut off from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am". Conveniently situated next to the gas station was a big, beautiful hotel; I'm sure the nightly gas station closure was great for business. We slept in our car for three hours and waited for the gas station to open. To say we were bothered would be a serious understatement. 

You are probably wondering why we didn't just sleep in our trailer? Well, it was actually a bit of a project to get set up to go to sleep in there. And those bikes we decided to throw in at the last minute had to be taken out every time we got in. It was just easier to sleep in the car. 

We pulled into Dawson Creek and waited for 20 minutes for the Wal-Mart to open. We brushed our teeth and did some stretching in the parking lot while Steve did some repacking, and then we all went inside to use the restroom, fill up our water bottles, and buy some food. 

And then we started our trek on the Alaska Highway. (By the way, nobody in Alaska calls it the Alaska Highway; they all call it the ALCAN.) 

Construction of the Alaska Highway began in 1942. Although it was successfully completed in record time, there were a few tragedies along the way. In February 1943, the worst accident took place when 60,000 cases of dynamite exploded in the center of town. An entire city block was leveled, but miraculously, only five people died.

I took this picture thinking this would be one of the most expensive fill-ups of our trip. But there were plenty more high gas prices to come!

At this point of our drive, it really started to feel like a road trip. Adam kept saying things like, "We've been in this car for hours and hours." And we'd reply, "Yep." We paused the DVD player every time we crossed a bridge and yelled, "Bridge!" The kids knew their responsibilities. Rachel was moved up to the middle bench because she was best and handing things back and forth. Lucy was in charge of water. Whenever we stopped at a gas station or grocery store, she would gather all of the water bottles up and go inside with me to fill them up. Adam was designated "trash man". Steve experimented with drafting off of the big semi-trucks. (He is so much braver than I am.) We were getting really good at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the front passenger seat. We lost cell phone reception. And then we started to see the wildlife. Lots of wildlife.

We drove through two provincial parks.

Stone Mountain Provincial Park:

And Muncho Lake Provincial Park:

These pictures don't quite capture how cool it was, but Muncho Lake was still partly frozen, and the ice was breaking up along the shoreline. It looked like bluish-green crystals floating on the water.

Everyone wanted to get a closer look and take pictures. Whoops, it looks like we forgot to get dressed for the day.

Amy Malouf texted me earlier in the day and told me to make sure to stop at Liard River Hot Spring Provincial Park. We are so thankful for all of the good advice that people gave us for our trip!

The girls rode their bikes around the campground and then we went on a ten-minute walk along a wooden boardwalk to get to the hot springs. The first boardwalk and pool facilities were built by the United States Army in 1942. (The Army kept really busy that year. . . which is perplexing because. . . weren't we in the middle of a war??) P.S. Steve told me it was strategic placement. When Rachel and Lucy asked him what we were talking about, they got an hour-long lesson on World War II and military warfare strategies. . . most of which he learned from playing the game Risk.

If a girl is mean to her brother and sister in the forest and no one else is around to hear it, does she still have to go sit in time out?


That would have been a cruel punishment if we had known about the two tourists who were killed by a black bear attack on that boardwalk in 1997, but we didn't find out about that until later. 

The springs were beautiful. 

They even had composting toilets like the ones Steve and I saw a couple years ago at Havasupai

The Beta pool is closed to the public to protect a snail that is a Red Listed Species under the Federal Species At Risk Act. 

So we swam around in the Alpha pool. 

The water was definitely on the warm side (even for me) and some of the kids were grossed out by the bottom of the hot springs.  

Some people were nice enough to share their raft, so Rachel was willing to venture out past the stairs. 

There aren't any pictures of Steve because he didn't go to the hot springs. He told me he was going to set up camp and meet us down there. . . . but after an hour or so of trying to keep four kids quiet enough that the other visitors could enjoy peaceful setting, I gave up and took the kids back to camp.

Camp was set up. And all of our clothes were hanging from a clothesline strung between two trees. Steve had hand washed every single article of dirty clothing and hung them up to dry. He even left the dirty water in the red bins so I could see how effective his cleaning was. He's a funny boy.  


Kayli said...

Holy WOW! Amazing wildlife!! And awesome lake! Oh, this is so exciting!

Ryanne said...

Ahhh, memories. Reggie's parents just tried to make the drive down and got told at the border that the Alvan is closed due to mud. Have you heard of that yet? They had to change their plans.

Ryanne said...

Ahhh, memories. Reggie's parents just tried to make the drive down and got told at the border that the Alvan is closed due to mud. Have you heard of that yet? They had to change their plans.

Ryanne said...

I meant Alcan, thank you auto correct.

emily ballard said...

Ryanne, we came home on the ferry!