Archive for May, 2009

An Easy Drive South.

May 27, 2009

Monday 25 May 2009.  Again it was sunny and cool in the morning and warmed up to a delightful 20° or so by afternoon.  I was so happy to be back in shorts and T-shirts again. 

After coffee and toast and fond farewells, I think Dino was the one who was sorriest to see me leave.  He is a cute copy of 18 months. 

The drive down to Lethbridge was quite easy.  It was sunny traffic, was light and I just cruised down the road.  I took my time and got in to Lethbridge about 2:30 in the afternoon.  I was staying at the pepper tree Inn where I had stayed on my way into Canada. 

Almost too late I walked over to the Japanese gardens and spent a very delightful half-hour or so walking through the grounds.  With all the stress of the last few days I could have used more time to sit and just enjoy the quiet.  However, it was a delightful 30 minutes. 

I did recognize the irony of visiting Japanese Gardens on Memorial Day.  I brought home even more the sacrifices of American Service Personnel as well as those of other nations who died defending our liberties. 

Instead of dinner I decided to have a big Dairy Queens Sundae.  It was good. 

Yup, not too much to report for these few days.  Things will pick up as a return to real sightseeing.

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Today, I called off the World.

May 27, 2009

Sunday, 24 May 2009.  It was a quiet morning as both kids were over at their grandparents. 

Everyone slept in.  I commented to Lynn and Tony that it was an interesting to look out the window and not see snow.  Actually, the weather was quite delightful.  The high today was to be in the low 20s. 

Today was a day for recovering and in doing nothing.  I did both.  I also did a couple loads of laundry so I had clean clothes for the trips south. 

The kids returned early in the afternoon obviously tired from their visit to their grandparents.  Notwithstanding William got geared up and was taken to his soccer game.  Afterwards we all had really good hamburgers for dinner. 

I guess I could have done some of the diary while there I was too lazy.  After reading for a little bit that crashed out as I would be up fairly early to hit the road and continue south towards the States.

Déjà vu all over again

May 27, 2009

Saturday, 23 May 2009.  I woke up fairly early on Saturday it was a beautiful day a little cool but still beautiful.  I got some petrol and head on down the road.  This was after breakfast, of course. 

Under sunny skies I just headed south and put the current cruise control and kept on rolling.  While the temperature was in single digits one I got up, it was in the high teens or low 20s by the time I reached Edmonton. 

I bypassed the gas station that was upset that I didn’t spend more money when it came through yesterday and picked of some gas about 250 km down the road.  

With little traffic I cruised through Dawson Creek and kept on rolling.  

Deferred and driving for while I finally was able to get phone communication again and called Lynn and Tony to see if they can put up with me for another night or two.  They said they could and I said, I would give them a call when I was about an hour out. 

I rolled into St. Albert about 7 p.m.  I’d covered about 1000 km in 11 hours.  I parked the car, and off we went to Boston Pizza, that was a gentleman’s name who started the chain, it did not refer to an East Coast city, for some excellent pizza. 

Besides good food and conversation we had a little bit of humor thrown in.  In Tony’s pasta was a bug.  Not an icky bug but a pasta bug is often found in soup or a pasta dish for kids.  Tony called the waitress over to complain about “the bug.”  Her horror turned to giggles when she realized what was going on.  She, of course, dragged her manager over after noting that a customer found a bug in his pasta.  The rather upset manager also broke up into giggles.  Both of them thanked Tony for some comic relief after a long hard day.  Several others dropped by to see the bug.  As Tony’s dinner was too big to finish he took the remains home, including the bug, for later on. 

We chatted and had some ice cream when we got back home.  It was time to call it a night.

Alaska or Bust! — Busted!

May 23, 2009

Friday, 22 May 2009.  I woke to find that the hotel’s front desk had not set the alarm for me.  It was a good thing that I took my thyroid med at five o’clock in the morning.  This meant I can go directly down for breakfast and some coffee which I desperately needed.  I returned to the room and did some e-mail.  I need to put around a few more minutes and then I will get on the road hopefully with my jury rigged car.  I have a room booked in Fort Nelson tonight. 

After getting some gas on the way up the highway at continued north along the Alcan.  As with yesterday the British Columbian tourist office doesn’t seem too concerned with keeping the Alcan posted properly.  I did find a few of the Mileposts and enjoy the scenery while a tooled up the highway at about 80 km an hour.  I did stop on several occasions to take some photos and just enjoy a leisurely drive. 

The sun was out, the temperature was nice and traffic was very light.  I couldn’t have asked for more. 

I stopped off at Sasquatch Crossing and had lunch.  I had a phone jack with a couple of the people who work there and a couple who were up in the area looking to buy some land.  After a very filling turkey sandwich I headed on up the highway.  Others making much better time than I expected as there were few mileposts or signposts relating to the Alcan highway. 

I had stopped for gas at a small service station maybe 200 or 150 km out of Fort Nelson.  On empty stretches I do like to see my gas gauge up to the top.  It was shortly after this I glanced down and noticed that according to the fuel gauge I had no gas whatsoever in the tank.  This, obviously, is not a good thing.  As the low gas alarm did not go off, and the car was running just fine, I felt that the fuel gauge had suffered a malfunction.  This was the second electrical malfunction in as many days.  I decided then and there that Fort Nelson would be the end of the drive up the Alcan.  I was within shouting distance of civilization in Fort Nelson as Dawson Creek was only 500 km back down the road. 

I decided that I would head back to the US and do the portion of my planned trip that I had planned to do after I got back from Alaska.  Moreover, once I am in the states, I can get my car repaired if need be under warranty.  It seems that my warranty is not really good in Canada.  A Saturn dealership will fix the car but I will have to pay for it and get my money back from Saturn.  And one wonders why GM is having such a hard time when they treat their customers so poorly. 

I would be needing a regular service visit to a Saturn dealership in about 2000 miles.  Thus, and may well be taking my Saturn back to the dealer where I bought it for service.  While the sales department did not endear themselves to me, the service department seemed to be first-rate.  If need be, I should be able to crash was Barb while the car is getting repaired.  However I will probably just keep the car going until I get it back to Saturn in Albany. 

As I was closing in on Fort Nelson, all of a sudden the gas gauge sprang back life.  It showed me that I had three quarters of a tank of gas which is about what I expected.  However, this sort of thing leaves me quite nervous.  Yes, it worked for a little while but what about tomorrow or the next day.  I’ll be driving through a lot of very open country.  Having a third electrical malfunction in the middle of nowhere will be a very bad thing.  So “Alaska or Bust” is busted. 

I’m in a fairly comfortable room at the Fort Nelson Hotel and will shortly sack out so I can hit the road quite early tomorrow morning.  I have a long way to drive. 

C’est la vie!  La Vie!

Into the Abyss

May 22, 2009

Thursday, 21 May 2009.  I woke to a mostly cloudy skies and no idea of how chilly it may be.  Now for some breakfast and then to load the car and get on the way a the Alcan Highway.  The breakfast as with the day before was excellent and almost too much.  I can’t recommend the Sunset Farm B&B enough to you. 

I had to back to Dawson Creek and swung around the round about which marked milepost zero and headed up the Alcan.  I quickly found that the milepost were not well marked and one had to really look to see them so much for the tourist industry.  A number of the milepost were missing.  They were either taken as souvenirs are knocked down and never replaced.  The highlight of the trip north was going on the old Alaskan Highway and taking the curved wooden bridge that was built in 1943. 

I continue to leisurely drive up the road occasionally stopping to take a photograph.  

The day abruptly plummeted into the abyss when I got to Fort St. John.  First, was the lack of milepost’s.  I mentioned this to the information office, who sympathized, and mentioned they had received other complaints.  Obviously, complaints are not to be taken seriously nor fixed. 

I went out to Charlie Lake.  At that point I found out I could not turn off the car.  There was a GM dealer in town and I drove there.  Some 7 hours later and 500 plus dollars poorer I drove out with a jury rigged ignition system which allowed me to turn the car on and off.  The alternative would have been to wait six days for the parts.  I still would have had to pay for everything and try and get my money back when I got home. 

I now have a hot wired toggle switch, actually two toggles, ignition system.  The mechanic feels this will hold me until I get home.  I hope so. 

I checked out the local Super 8 Motel.  They wanted $185 Canadian for the night.  This is an oil town.  Nobody pays for their own bills.  They are all charged to the company.  One of the ladies at the dealership mentioned a hotel that had a special.  I found a hotel and did get a night’s room for only $99.  It was very nice room.  Unfortunately, the front desk did not know how to set the alarm and I overslept. 

One nice saying was that the ethernet connection allowed me to send mail directly from my Outlook Express rather than having to transfer everything over to Gmail. 

I finally crashed out at the end of a long and aggravating day.

At Historic Milepost Zero

May 22, 2009

Wednesday, 20 May 2009.  I awoke to a looks like a very nice day outside, though I didn’t sleep all that well.  Of the didn’t have any thin sheets only a lovely duvet which was too warm and I couldn’t really sleep under it.  I must ask for a couple sit sheets for tonight.  Nonetheless I did get enough sleep to carry on today,  And I’m looking forward to exploring Dawson Creek and taking lots of photos. 

I’ll figure out how warm it is when I go outside today and see if the snow is melting.  We were supposed to get some additional snow overnight but I don’t think that happened. 

I tried to get on the internet, but tho the computer says, I’m connected, I can’t raise a browser.  This is a hassle.  Not sure just when I’ll be back on line.  My trip diary is way behind, tho I have done the several installments. 

I went upstairs to eat a marvelous breakfast prepared by Barb.  It was a marvelous spread, and I ate more than enough to keep me going for most of the day.  When I got back to my room, I found that the internet connection was working.  I managed to clear up some of the e-mail but did not upload my diary segments. 

I finally loaded up the car and headed downtown to do some sightseeing.  My first stop was a welcoming marker as one enters Dawson Creek.  I then drove over to see in the Northern Alberta Railways Park.  It is the site of the Railway Station Museum.  Besides having lots of neat stuff one could watch an hour long film on the Alaskan Highway.  A couple hundred meters away was the cairn and marking Milepost Zero. 

In the time I came out of the museum the sunny skies and gentle breezes had melted just about all of the snow.  I walked a block or two into town and went over to the Alaska Highway House.  This was a museum dedicated to the highway and also included an hour long film on the making of the highway along with interviews of people who worked on the highway itself.  While there were some overlap with the other film, this film was very interesting as well. 

But this time I was thinking of food and wandered around the center of Dawson Creek.  The one restaurant mentioned in my guidebook had a very limited menu by four o’clock in the afternoon. 

Therefore, fell back on my standard on the road fast food place, KFC.  Fortified and rehydrated I returned to the B&B.  As the Internet connection was still up I set about updating my blog.  I also called and made arrangements for tomorrow night.  I am staying at the Sasquatch Crossing Lodge.  In their air they note that there are daily Sasquatch sightings.  I browsed the Internet for a little while, made a few comments on my Facebook page and then called it a night.  I would be getting up at six o’clock in the morning tomorrow.

One way to look at it.

May 22, 2009

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

Tiptoeing thru the snowdrifts!

May 21, 2009

Tuesday, 19 May 2009.  After getting any relatively good nights sleep I awoke to find roofs and cars and grass covered by a relatively thick layer of snow, say about a centimeters or so.  This could make for interesting drive to Dawson Creek.  I’ve been up long enough.  It is time for coffee and some nourishment not only does my soul crave it, but so does my stomach.

 

After dining on some excellent French toast plus good coffee, I got my stuff together and loaded up a the car.  Tony had left for the day but Lyn was still around for short while.  When I went out to move my car so she could get her car out from the garage, Lynn took a couple pictures of me getting the snow off the car.

 

My first stop when they got on my way was the motor club office which was on the way.  I picked up a couple more maps and a tour book.  From there I headed down to find the Saturn dealer to check on what was making the coolant light come on.  The service people were quite nice and took one look and simply said, the cool what level is low.  The chap went and got some anti-freeze and topped up the cooling system.  They also topped up to my windshield washer supply.  I had a feeling I would need quite a lot of it on the road today.

 

It was overcast and the temperature was just about freezing as I headed out of Edmonton.  It was not snowing.  This soon changed and the sky is dropped lots of white stuff about me as I drove.  The worst stretch of highway was around the town of Whitecourt.  Here the snow with had reached about 4 inches and was covering the highway in spots with hard packed snow/ice.  I was feeling right at home.

 

The road conditions stayed nasty until about the time I stopped for a quick hamburger.  Thereafter the road was mainly wet but not snow covered or snow packed.  However, it continued to snow, most of the time, occasionally quite heavily.

 

Traffic wasn’t really heavy, and I made pretty good time.  With the extra hour to do the time change I arrived in Dawson Creek about 4 p.m. I checked at the local gas station to make sure I would find the road I was looking for.  While the roads are signed pretty well, they can still be quite confusing.  I found the roads I wanted to take and headed out for the B&B.

 

The B&B was not on the main road.  There were signs pointing to the B&B, and I followed them down first a paved road, which was somewhat broken up, and then down a dirt road.  I did find the B&B without any problems even though it was anything but on the beaten path.

 

I was shown my room, brought in my stuff from the car and then asked if the Mrs. would make me a sandwich.  I hadn’t half expected to drive back into Dawson Creek for dinner and maybe checking out the town.  However, with the snow and the poor roads I begged a little sustenance at the B&B rather than driving all the way back into town.  She was kind enough to provide me with his lovely pleasure of cheeses and rye bread and some additional yummies. 

While the computer indicates that I have a connection, I can not get onto the Internet.  My hosts have exactly the same problem.  Maybe later today or tomorrow with the bloody thing will work.  They think, the net connection breakdown is associated with the snowstorm and cold weather.

More friends & food.

May 21, 2009

Monday, 18 May 2009.  I woke up to find it not only cloudy but with light snow flurries that has left a tiny bit of snow on my car.  It was quite windy and blowing about the falling snow in.  Such is springtime in Edmonton, Alberta. 

Using some of the material I got at the visitor center I chose a bed-and-breakfast near it Dawson Creek and made reservations.  I would be there for two evenings and would probably get a chance to practice my German while there. 

After fortifying myself with some coffee and a scone I headed down to meet with Johanna after dropping by the bank.  I found it this time, and got some needed Canadian money.  Traffic was rather light and I had no trouble finding her home. 

We went for nice leisurely breakfast over at a local restaurant and we had a very nice breakfast, I ate too much, and we had in very nice long chat.  All too soon we headed back.  I dropped off Johanna, topped up the gas tank and headed back. 

As I had the couple hours, I was able to sort the laundry I did yesterday.  Now to attempt to play some catch-up of was my travel diary. 

Midafternoon, Charmaine arrived with her stack of photos from her trip up the Alcan.  We had a very nice discussion about traveling the highway.  She mentioned a couple places that I added to my itinerary as places I should see. 

We must have chatted for about two hours and then all six of us went out for a very nice Greek dinner.  Good food and good conversation ruled the evening.  Too soon the evening came to an end and we headed back.  When we carried on the conversation for a while that at the house before we called it an evening.  While the kids didn’t have school, everybody else had worked, and I needed to get out relatively early to get ready to head out to Dawson Creek. 

I was also introduced to Victoria.  She is the young lady from the Philippines who works part-time as the nanny for Lyn and Tony’s two very intelligent and active children.  William is 4 and Lena is 6.

A day for friends & food!

May 21, 2009

Sunday 17 May 2009.  Sunday dawned with some overcast and cool temps.  I wander downstairs to and have some coffee and fend off Dino who just wanted to play  We did do that a little bit later on.  I sat and chatted with Tony who was making up some breakfast.  Once the coffee was brewed, the eggs and sausages cooked, we all sat down to excellent breakfast.                                                

I attempted to ring up Tara, Pat and Boomer.  As I got no answer I decided to go out and do a little shopping.  I didn’t find the bank on the first pass, it turned out that I didn’t go far enough to see the bank.  I turned back and went over to Wal-Mart where I picked up a small cooler.  The cooler would be enough for loaf of bread, it’s preserves and peanut butter.  

I finally connected up with Tara and made arrangements to come by their house and say hello.  In the meantime I puttered about the house chatting with Lyn and Tony, not to mention pulling on Doni’s ears. 

The drive down to Tara’s home and was easily done and I had a lovely chat with Tara and Pat and was introduced to Boomer, The Wonder Dog.  The couple hours we spent chatting went all too quickly, and I had to leave to get back for dinner at Lyn and Tony’s. 

Joining us for dinner were a couple, their daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend.  Tony grilled up some steaks, and we had strawberry shortcake for dessert not to mention some very fine wine. 

After getting a little bit of my diary written out, I he joined Lyn and Tony for the end of High School Musical 3.  What I saw the movie was pleasant teenage fun.  Not only is that there was a happy ending.