Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28th - Alaska Highway - when the days plan goes to shit!

I am a planner and like to have my day all planned out, when I will start, where I will end and where I will stop for lunch or fuel or both....well, it didn't work today!

Last night before I ate dinner, I had today all planned. I was in Grande Prairie having driven further than planned yesterday, since where I intended to stop looked like a meth lab, so I drove on. Had plenty of time so made a longer day. I was determined to not make that mistake again, so planned a shorter day. didn't work again!

The original plan for today was a short drive to Dawson Creek and mile 0 (zero) of the Alaska Highway. Take some time to get a couple pictures of the start then drive on to Sikanni, looked like there was a decent campgound there who emailed I could have power only as no water or sewer available...not a problem. So I left at about 8:00 am had a nice drive to Dawson Creek, stopped at McDonald's for a coffee refill for the road, found mile zero, took some pics and even though I only had used about a quarter tank, stopped and filled up. Figuring that according to plan, there was fuel where I intended to stop.

Nice drive with fairly good weather and road conditions toward Sikanni. Made the planned long steep downhill to the Sikanni River and right past the bridge was my planned stop. Pulled in only to see a sign that said, Sorry No Gas!! And nobody at the campground...not a soul to be found. Still had almost a quarter tank so I pressed on...I didn't know it at the time, but fuel was much closer going back the other way. But trusty Milepost said there was another fuel stop about 15 miles North. And there was....same sign, sorry, diesel only, no gas! At this point I am beginning to worry, a little. Check the Milepost again and there is another supposed fuel stop about 40 miles away, (you see where this is going) so I press on. GPS assures me the place I am headed is in range, barely.

Driving with one eye on the gas gauge and the other on the road...I press on. What is that yellow light...oh just the low fuel warning...No problem, GPS says 17 miles, I can make that!! There ahead - that big sign with the Shell on it, you know the yellow one....right in front of a closed down station! Sorry - Out of business!! Across the street is another place that was in even worse shape. So I pulled in stopped and started contemplating my alternatives. Generator has about 4 gallons in it, which ain't enough to get me to Fort Nelson, which several people had told me was the closest gas - about 60 miles.

So I pulled out by the entrance to the "Gas Station" and shut down...wondering just how much I was going to have to spend to call and have someone bring me 10 gallons of gas....checked, no cell service!! WTF!!! Now I was even more perplexed!

Figuring my next step was to lay down in the road and stop the next vehicle that passed by and hitch a ride, as I was contemplating old beat-up Ford pulled in next to me and rolls down his window and says, you look perplexed! I say, you wouldn't happen to have 10 gallons of gas...and he said, I have 5 gallons in the back of the truck and another 8 gallons in a can back at the house about a kilometer from here! We negotiate a fair (very fair) price and I dump in the first tank! After that he says, just follow me and I'll get you the other can.

So off we go, he turns down a dirt road and stops...gets out and says, you have 4 wheel drive don't you! I say yes and down the road we go, which becomes steep, muddy and snow packed! He makes a right turn in what can only be described as a mud path, comes to a stop in front of a small pond which is covering the road...gets out, walks back to me and says, it's not deep just stay to the left! So off we go...

As i go through the puddle, I look in my mirror and see the water being pushed by the trailer, it is well above the bottom of the trailer. We press on about another 300 yards or so to his "house", now this guy is living "off the grid", has a home, two story, built out of log ends, he tells me the walls (logs ends) are 3 feet long for insulation. Generator, outhouse all the conveniences of home, big wood pile and a warm wood stove, he has to show me around.

Back outside another 8 gallons or so of gas and I am trying to figure out how I am going to turn the rig around and get on my way....I had asked if there was room to turn around when he told me about the huge puddle, he assured me there was! Well there was, just barely with the front of the truck buried hood high in a snow bank! And at that it was about a 25 point turn around with a trailer, in deep mud and snow! Many thanks to David Engle of Prophet River, BC!! He relieved me of most of my Canadian currency and took away all my stress!!!

Then it started snowing and got cold and I drove on to Fort Nelson and here I am!! Tomorrow I buy 2 - 5 gallon gas cans and fill them up and put them in the bed of the truck and KEEP them filled!!

Now a few pictures!

Last nights stop in Grande Prairie!

Mile Zero!

My View for most of the day!

The Driveway!!

So, I arrived in Fort Nelson with plenty of fuel, found a campground and I am settled in for the night, tomorrow I need to repair the trailer plug on the back of the truck which got broken while making the tight turn-around in the driveway. Also, Half the wire got cut on the bed of the truck as I jack-knifed the trailer in tight quarters...and buy some gas cans and make a better plan for the next leg. Since I made a 2 day drive, I may spend tomorrow making some phone calls to confirm fuel stops!

Great fun!! Stay tuned for more adventures!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest

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