10 January 2013

So Close When It Happened

Two days ago was our one year mark from leaving Alaska and taking our cross-country trek to Wisconsin. When we left Alaska that early and cold morning we had no idea what God had planned for us during that trip or for the year. We had heard traveling during that time of year can be treacherous and sometimes dangerous. Driving was the only optional we had because from the time we found out we were moving to the day we left was only 24 days. We did not have time to get tickets for the ferry, which the husband is not to fond of. We could fly but that entailed having to pay out of pocket to ship our second vehicle. Our decision was to drive. We really enjoyed the drive up to Alaska and wanted to do the drive back to the lower 48. We had no idea we were going to face what we faced.
First, let me explain a little about driving from Alaska to the lower 48. When you leave Alaska you travel the Alaska-Canada Highway (Al-Can).  During peak season,which of course is the summer months you will see more travellers along the highway. The services along the way are opened during the summer months, but can be many miles apart from one another. The winter months are more scarce. Many of the small services are closed down for the winter. The next largest towns are about 12 hours apart from one another. When a service is open along the way, you stop. It does not matter if you have three quarters of gas left in your gas tank. You stop. You can go hours without seeing a gas station or another traveller in the winter months. Also, another huge factor in driving the Al-Can is the wildlife. You can come around a curve and literally there will be a herd of buffalo or caribou in the middle of the road. When you round the curve there could be a large bull moose standing in the middle of the road. It can be scary. Pre-planning to travel during the winter months are very crucial.

We leave Alaska January 8, 2012. Our goal was to make it Whitehorse, Canada. It is about 12-13 hours from Fairbanks, Alaska. Whitehorse is the next largest city on the Al-Can. We left Fairbanks extremely early. I am not sure the time, but I want to say around 4am or 5am. Everything is going well. We cross into Canada and begin our journey in this country. We make it to Destruction Bay which is only about an hour or so from our final destination for the day. Now Destruction Bay is beautiful during the day but at night that is another story. One part of Destruction Bay you are literally crossing the bay. You are not on a bridge. The road leads into the bay. You have water on both sides of you and it seems like you could reach your hand out and touch it. Now know that there are no street lights. Just your headlights guiding you on this winding road leading into this bay. The hubby cannot see. It was very difficult for him to see the road. We took our time, God opened the sky and had the moonlight shine down on the road for us. That allowed the husband to see the road more. We made it to Whitehorse that evening and were exhausted. We knew we had about another 12 hour trip the next morning.

We grabbed some food and went back to our hotel. We said our prayers thanking God for the safe travels and that He would continue to be with us as we traveled the rest of the way. The next day we would enter into the Canadian Rockies where are next destination would be, Fort Nelson. When we woke the next morning we had no idea what that day would hold for us.

After leaving Whitehorse within a couple of hours we enter a snowstorm. It is crazy how the weather is in the mountains. One can be driving and literally see the invisible line of the storm. We had entered a couple of snowstorms that day. The husband mentioned that at times it was difficult to see but nothing we have not seen in Alaska before. The only thing we had to really worry about was the wildlife on the road. Our day of travel was going really well. We saw many moose and herds of buffalo. We were really enjoying God's beauty.

It was around dinnertime when we stopped at a little gas station. The husband filled up the truck, the kids and I stretched our legs. I cleaned off the windows while the husband went in to pay. Another couple was there as well filling up their RV. We had conversation with them and found out that they too were heading for Fort Nelson.An important thing when traveling the Al-Can is ask the locals how the weather is where you are travelling too. The hubby asked and the locals said they had not heard anything about bad weather from there to Fort Nelson, our final destination for the night. This gas station had a couple of rooms available for the night and hubby asked how much the rooms were. The rooms were about $200 a night. We decided that we would continue forward to Fort Nelson. We knew the rooms would be cheaper and that the weather should be good. We said good-bye to the couple we were speaking too and said we will see you at Fort Nelson.

We are about two hours from the little gas station we stopped at when we saw this:

You cannot even see the rest of the mountain due to the storm.
We knew then what we could be driving into. We thought since we had driven into a couple of snowstorms that we would be okay. Of course it is now almost dark so we would take extra pre-caution and drive even slower if need be. Everything is going good. We are now about 45 minutes from our final destination when we round a curve and literally drive into white-out conditions.....

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the Al-Can...I lothe that road.

    ReplyDelete

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