The story… that a few of my friends wanted me to share on this blog. Sit down, grab a cup of tea, beer or what-have-you and read about my trip out of Alaska this time. You might want to grab a map to follow along.
I have driven the Alcan Highway to and fro for years. I love the trip, but will now say, not in the summer time. I set out from Haines on a cool 50’s Friday morning, around 10-ish, after seeing friends. Headed up the gorgeous Haines Highway, it was clear and the mountains were just gorgeous. My tentative goal was to reach Teslin, but I stopped just south of Whitehorse. It was just too hot (92ºF) to push it. Acclimating to hotter temps doesn’t come easy for me. Left in the wee hours the next morning and had a steady day of driving, saw one female moose, more then a 5 porcupines as road kill – sad, as one included its baby. Made it to Rabid Grizzly Rest Area, just north of Dease Lake, where I normally stop. This time it was smack dab in the middle of major construction zone. Gravel and dust beyond dust everywhere, but I was just too tired to continued. It was 89ºF. It was still 89º when I laid down to attempt to sleep. My non-RVing friends need to realize, I have no electricity when I am dry camping. I just have windows, vents open in a tin box. I do have a 12 volt Fantastic fan, that I parked right next to my boys – gave them a bag of ice to lay on or near to keep them cooler. Must tell you, doing the night when I was still tossing and turning…I looked out at the sky and was blown away. I haven’t seen dark in over 2 1/2 months and to see the sky in all its glory – multi milky-ways, constellations and the mighty aurora borealis… it just brought great peace to me, it was so incredibly beautiful. Alas, this place offered up a 40 degree spread in temps – it was 49ºF when I awoke to a heavy dewed morning. That heavy dew turned all that dust into a wet brown paste of dust on everything. Ah life on the Alcan.
Left in the wee hours again – in hopes of getting out of the construction zone before the worker-bees started and to have cooler temps for just a little while. I pushed thru to Kitwanga, as I knew it had a good place to stay. It is here, that I discovered a major blunder of mine. I needed to re-run thru the cycle on my car. I didn’t need to unhitch, just run thru the cycle of the gears, etc. Well… I couldn’t. It was deader then a door nail. It, the car, was so dead, I couldn’t even open the back doors. Shit. While getting the battery recharged, I discovered I had not engaged my disconnect switch that turns off the fuse – so this would not happen. Duh! Felt downright foolish to discover that, as it is WRITTEN in capitals, bold print on the laminated instruction sheet I keep in the console. Oh good grief! That won’t happen again, let me tell you. I stayed there for 2 nights. A good break in all this heat.
I next, normally, stop at Beaumont Provincial Park, just west of Vanderhoof. So many cars were going in and out of there, I changed my mine and kept going. I then pushed on to and thru Prince George. I stopped just south of Prince George at a campground I know has good shade… with electricity. It was a long day and was glad to get the shade.
Left again early the next morning. Now I was most concerned by the forecast of 90-100’s degree temperatures south of Cache Creek. Its a long, long haul when its that hot. Do I make it a long day of driving, or do I stop? I decided to let the road dictate what I would do. As it turns out, it was in the 70’s and cloudy with spotty rain at Cache Creek. Wow! How can I be so lucky? But here is my opportunity to get thru the Fraser Canyon area in cooler temps. Yes, the total trip for that day would be 7-8 hours long, but it would save me from dealing with that heat as I would have dry camped. It was cloudy all the way down to Chilliwack and I arrived around 2:30 pm when the hot sun re-appeared.
Chilliwack, a place I normally just drive thru to get to the border. This time, I stopped to get gas. I turned the wrong way coming out of the gas station and… promptly got lost. Shit. For nearly 2 hours, I tried to find a place to turn around, to even stop and get unhitched to turn around, anything that would get me back to Highway 1. Streets were too narrow for a RV, little lone one pulling a car. I finally came across a day use only park, found one car and asked for help. I have to say, I am beyond tired at this time…but I really wanted to get across the border. So they (a family) had me follow them back out to the highway. Got to Sumas border crossing, sat for about 20 minutes in the heat, so wishing to shut my eyes for a few minutes.
I picked up Highway 9 (a rural country road) to take me down to Highway 20 that would take me to Anacortes. There I would go onto Whidbey Island via Deception Pass. I had already called and learned there was absolutely nothing available in RV parks, State Parks or even the military base for me for the night. So where do I go? I headed for the ferry terminal., thinking I could get across to Port Townsend sometime tonight. Alas…there last run was at 8 pm or something. Now what? I went to the day use only area, right next to the terminal. I pulled in, thinking if I could just snooze for 20 minutes then figure out what to do. I won’t write here what I said next, when I realized I could not turn around.
So it is on the dark side of dusk now. I can’t turn around, I am now illegally parked in a day use only space. So I set about unhitching my car. I could get one tow arm, but for the life of me I could not get the second one undone. I tried everything everyone has told me on this unhitching business..I drove the car forward, backward – to try to release the tension. Turning the wheels, nothing worked. So I decided to drive the rig up on a little rock strewn berm, in hopes of straightening out the car. That did not work, but I discovered I had not released the tension on that 2nd arm. So glad no one was around in the dark to see me brow beat myself. 2nd arm popped off, moved the car. Went back to the RV…drumroll… I am royally stuck!!!
Come on Melinda!!! You can get this rig off the berm. Silly girl! I managed to rock her rear end into the gravel road. See image above. I could not open the side door of my rig and even more unnerving…when I got into the driver seat, the whole rig rolled very uncomfortably. Now what?
Well, I start calling tow companies. No one in Coupevdlle or Oak Harbor would come to my rescue. So next in line was from Freeland, somewhere south of me on the island. They arrived within about 30 minutes. In the middle of all this… my credit card company called to tell me they suspected fraud on my credit card. Say what? So while I am following the instructions of the tow driver on turning the wheels, I was answering security questions for the credit card. Egads! It turns out my travel thru Canada was setting off the fraud system within the credit card company. It is all ok now, but in the middle of my being unstuck? Geez… The tow guy was awesome tho, and he did not charge me the full rate. No damage whatsoever to the RV or to the car. He said it was “an easy job”. Damned if it felt easy. But glad he left at 10:20 pm. I closed up all and struggled to get into bed. Alarm went off at 7am.. I needed to get reservations for the ferry.
By the way, it was the world’s best place to awaken to a sunrise over wet lands on one side and the ocean on the other. The sounds…a beautiful, peaceful symphony played before my ears. My soul needed that breath of fresh air. But had to get moving, car re-hitched up and get to the ferry. I was heading back to the SKP park.
And that is the story and I’m sticking to it.