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The Way North (South)

September 29, 2019

September 27, 2019

An on-line ad at GORV.COM had an RV, a 2017 “Hymer.”  Only it was in Anchorage.  P. was interested.

She had me phone with a ridiculously low offer, which a fellow named Ted rejected.  Then P. and our granddaughter and I went to the Burger Dive for lunch. Usually you have to wait to get into the Burger Dive. We waited.

Part way through a flaming hot jalapeño burger the phone buzzed in my pocket.  Scared me, as usual, because I thought I was getting electrocuted.  It was Ted, who made a counter offer.  Later, we checked with the credit union, and our banker, Brian Callahan, agreed to lend us half the price.  I informed Ted. We had a deal.

We left for Alaska with four suitcases and a dog at six am, first to Salt Lake City, then Seattle, then Anchorage, we arrived at 2:30 pm.  I phoned Ted who picked us up in a rusty old van.  Immediately he told us a list of things wrong with our purchase.  Then he drove us to a rundown lot.  The title would be a problem, he said, adding that we would have to register it in Alaska and get Alaska plates.  

The title wasn’t a problem.  Ted was probably legit.  The problems with the Hymer were trivial. 

The following day we drove many hours from Anchorage to Tok Junction, where we spent the first night of our bold, 5,000 mile journey.  I had bought 8 bottles of wine, six cans of Nalleys chili, six packs of Top Ramen, some milk, cereal, granola, eggs, cheese, tortillas, dish soap, dog food, jumper cables, salsa, refried beans, and coffee.  Also bagels, fig newtons, peanut butter, and jam.  And dog treats:  milk bones and peanut butter nibbles.  

The salt and pepper we bought later. Oops.

While I napped in the back P. stopped at a farmer’s market in Fort Nelson and bought salsa, sausages, potatoes, bannock, bread and onions.

The highway throughout Canada had generous shoulders, was smooth, well-maintained.  However, the cafes and gas stations were old, had antiquated pumps, had fat, sullen, bald-headed owners, and the establishments were nearly all “for sale,” especially in the farthest-north areas.  The views were so beautiful and wide that we felt exhilarated.  I had a hard time taking pictures.

Matanuska glacier, near Palmer, Alaska.

We stopped for the night at eight places, roughly 400-500 miles apart, by the time we got to Winnipeg.  P. wanted to visit the grave of Louis Rial there, at St. Boniface.  The iPhone helped us find it, although it frequently told us to drive the wrong way on one-way streets, or drive on sidewalks.  We had to fly on our own several times, using our “common sense.”

We saw a sign that said, “Everyone who doesn’t want a speeding ticket, raise your right foot!”

If you want to learn about Louis Rial, I recommend the book, Strange Empire, by Joseph Kinsey Howard.  When in Saskatoon, we drove north to a place called Batoche, where Mr. Rial surrendered to the Canadian government.  He was then executed by hanging in Regina.  Mr. Rial was a duly elected spokesman for the Metis of North America, but dishonored by the Canadian government. This was a terrible injustice, racist. Wrong.

Gunther at Teslin Lake.

Are Canadian parks great?  Duh!  We stopped at many and saw bison, caribou, black bears, and heard wolves howling nearby.  Wildlife was most satisfying.  We had purchased a 2019 copy of “Milepost” online to guide us.  

Liard hot springs did not disappoint, but it has been built up considerably since the last time we saw it in the early 1980s.  You have to pay to get into the parking lot and there’s a gift shop and an RV park built in.  We saw a van from Bozeman.  The boardwalk is still the same, and there’s a changing room building.

Bison near Liard Hot Springs

We drove across Canada to Thunder Bay, then southwest on Lake Superior to Duluth to visit our son and his family.  

From there we drove to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to visit my beautiful sister Carol.  She prepared lavish meals for us and for her daughter Beth and her family.  Carol has a cat named Guy Wiley, a tortoise shell gray.  Gunther barked at the cat the first day.

We hiked five miles the next day.  We walked a path that followed the Oregon Trail to the Scotts Bluff monument.  Gunther stepped on goat heads a couple of times, which we picked out of his paw pads.

Carol made a huckleberry pie and an apple pie, which we ate with cheese.  (Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.) She made a meatloaf with burger and Italian sausage, and baked potatoes.  She fed P. and me, and Beth and Joe and Luke, Sam and Sammy.

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