Departed Vancouver Island on the 7 a.m. ferry. We made it to Quesnel (Hwy 97 in B.C.) by 7:30 p.m. and discovered the Quesnel Airport Inn RV Park. Having electric for the night was nice as it was chilly and there was about a foot of snow.
The highway to Prince George was bare and wet, layered with salt. North of Prince George, Pine Pass was overcast but with no snow, which was odd for this time of year.
We arrived in Dawson Creek (mile 0 Alaska Highway) in the early evening and parked at a friend's. We were able to plug in the block heater, but didn't have electric hookup for the RV as plugs were scarce because everyone needed to plug in their block heaters.
The morning was cold with clear skies. The beginning of the Alaska Highway was also in good condition. This rest area provided a good lunch spot.
Chaos, our big white Kuvasz was 29" at the shoulder and barely tall enough to enjoy the snow in the unplowed area ...
The wildlife viewing was very good today. There were numerous caribou, including one herd of eight. Also saw six moose, including these two making a quick exit left ...
The road conditions were good...
Towards dusk two more moose caught us by surprise! They both popped out of the bush and onto the road. One cleared the front of the RV while the other decided to trot along in front of us. The loose snow on the road made braking a bit of a challenge and the moose-butt came ever closer to the windshield and my nose. It seemed contact was inevitable, then the moose made a quick dash to the side and out of harm's way. Moose seem to not do well on the winter roads ... we saw four dead moose along the road today, with two wolves munching on one.
While it wasn't our destination for the day, Toad River Lodge (historical milepost 422) provided a comfortable overnight stop after 9 hours driving. For $5 the lodge provided a spot for us to plug in electric and block heater. The outside temperature as we went to bed was -29C (-20F).
Slept well at Toad River Lodge. On the road with light overcast skies. By noon we arrived at Liard Hotsprings (historical milepost 497). We eagerly looked forward to soaking in the hot springs!
In winter, the springs are particularly wondrous.
The temperature today was -35C (-31F) and clothing of choice was fleece!
We changed in the unheated change rooms and enjoyed a 2-hour soak. From our previous winter trip we learned to have our dry clothes arranged in the correct order for when we exited the pool, and to have a piece of Styrofoam insulation to stand on (so wet feet don't stick to the wood boards). I also knew my swimsuit would freeze solid very quickly!
Our previous winter trip we had camped in the parking area for the springs; however, this year the temperature was too cold. The lodge across the highway from the hot springs was the nearest electricity at a cost of $10/night. Even though we were parked roadside, we were happy to have electricity for the furnace AND the block heater!
The temperature reached -40 overnight.
The thermometer at the lodge indicated it -35F when we left Liard Hotsprings. The motorhome was reluctant to start even though the block heater was plugged in all night. We let the engine idle to warm up before we hit the road. As the motorhome moved, things creaked and groaned!
The gas line started to freeze a short time after we hit the road. Every uphill the motorhome would sl-o-o-o-w down, chugging to make the top. Steve thought we were in serious trouble. I hinted that we could try the gas line anti-freeze I had tucked away. Finally, with the motorhome about to stall, he pulled over and emptied the bottle into the tank, possibly just to shut me up. It was not the first time, and it will not be the last...I said, "I told you so!"
At Watson Lake we hoped to refill the propane bottle. No success. They thought the valve was frozen. We carried on and at our next stop the attendant was successful in filling the tank.
After a long day on the road, we arrived in Whitehorse and pulled into McKenzie's RV Park (now closed). The weather was mild and pleasant outside. We had electricity for both the RV and block heater. Was also able to fill the water tank. The black and grey tanks remained frozen solid.
Departed Whitehorse for our destination, Beaver Creek (historical mile 1202), which is near the Alaska border. We looked forward to celebrating Christmas with family and friends.
As we descended towards the Donjek River, a semi-truck was heading the other direction. We didn't realize until 15 minutes later that the truck tossed a rock and broke the window in the overhead bunk. Fortunately, our destination was less than a hundred miles away. It was a chilly drive!
The goal this year was to get to Beaver Creek to enjoy Christmas with my dad. We dry-camped in his yard with the engine block heater plugged in. Also made a temporary repair (Styrofoam, plywood and duct tape!) to the overhead window, durable enough to get us home.
Departed Beaver Creek for Whitehorse.
We were on the road by 8:30 a.m. even though it wasn't daylight until about 10 a.m.
There was near whiteout conditions around
the Donjek River and Kluane Lake.
Passed an oncoming semi-truck when we were climbing out of the Donjek valley and despite
my warnings, Steve was not prepared for the total whiteout that surrounded us. "I told you so".
After that, he pulled over and stopped for each oncoming truck that swirled the light snow.
There was sun and clear skies from Haines Junction to Whitehorse.
Departed Whitehorse by 8:30 a.m.
Initially the snow was falling, although it cleared by Watson Lake.
As darkness approached, the sky took on a pinkish hue.
Our destination for the evening was Liard Hot Springs, historical mile 497.
The temperature was quite a bit warmer at Liard Hot Springs: -18C (0F). The pool was also busier, although that could be because it was also the weekend.
Departed Liard Hot Springs. The sky was clear and conditions were good.
Enjoyed our lunch while parked alongside the Blue Bell Inn in Fort Nelson
(historical mile 300). Note the "No Vacancy" sign for the motel.
I didn't get any pictures of the nine moose we saw today.
Overnighted in Dawson Creek at Alahart RV Park. The campground owners were nice people and very hospitable. We called ahead and they did not mind our late arrival and they also ensured we were well-tucked in for the night.
New Year's Eve and we hit the road. We were looking forward to the RV thawing as we head south. We invested 12 hours on the road this day. New Year's Eve was celebrated at a quiet and deserted rest area just south of Cache Creek B.C.
The RV thawed and looked a little road-weary as we waited for the ferry to Vancouver Island. Note the snow shovel tucked under the ladder; didn't have to use it this trip!
People often ask what we did about the grey and black tanks. Yes, we used the toilet in the RV when we needed to, usually in the middle of the night or early morning when other facilities were not easily available. As well, dishwater went to the grey tank. And it would freeze as the tanks were exposed. Nothing cracked or broke.
The fresh water tank was inside, as were all the water lines. Even so, we had slushy water some mornings as the furnace could not keep up with the winter chill. I tucked a hand-warmer on the water pump with fleece wrapped around it; that solved the slush problem.
Biggest problem was ice forming inside the cab. The truck heater simply could not keep up. I hung a fleece blanket between the cab and living area. During the day, the blanket helped retain the heat in the cab and at night the blanket helped keep the heat in the living area. The windshield and windows up front caused a lot of heat loss.
The RV windows all had Styrofoam snug fit into them to keep the heat in and the cold out. It helped. Even so, the interior was often no more than 40 or 50 degrees F.