Category Archives: 2007 Arctic Circle

This is the adventure that started it all… Read the day by day account as father and son drove from Seattle to the North Slope of Alaska and then East to Inuvik, Canada taking us in and out of the arctic circle several time before returning to Seattle.

fj cruiser river wiseman alaska

Arctic Circle Adventure – Top to Bottom

Here is a quick index to our Arctic Circle road trip adventure. This father / son road trip adventure is the one that started it all.  It was a once in a life time adventure that took us from Seattle, WA. to the North Slope of Alaska where we stood in the Arctic Ocean.  And just for good measure we went over to Inuvik, Canada driving to the northern most town in the remote Northern Territories. What started as two weeks, turned into three as father and son continued to explore the tundra together.

We hope our stories and pictures inspire you to start your own adventure.

We want to thank all our sponsors, including lead sponsor Metal Tech, who helped make this adventure possible.  Please be sure to let them know you appreciate their contributions.

fj cruiser muddy road

1,200 words or less

4wd toyota owner MarchApril 08 coverIf you are new here, you can read more on our Arctic Circle Adventure to the Arctic Ocean. When you’re done come on back and follow us to Ouray CO. for the FJ Summit and the Baja. Who knows what else we may do next.

For everyone who followed the Arctic Circle adventure and still wants more. Here is your opportunity. As you know throughout the expedition we kept the website going, (not wind nor rain, nor sunshine, epic views or great company could keep us from our appointed rounds) with descriptions of our adventures, tales of people we met and pictures of what we saw.

Those who read everyone of the 19 days’ entries, and you know who you are, we salute you! The rest of you who have been waiting for the cliff note version of the adventure, here is your opportunity.

4WD Toyota Owner magazine is publishing in their March/April issue our story along with some of the pictures that we brought back. It is great that we have one more opportunity to share our adventure.

arctic circle adventure trip map

Epilogue: I Didn’t Hear The Fat Lady!

In Loving Memory Of Hula Betty

First lets thank our sponsors and all the folks who made this adventure possible:

  • Toyota Open Road Blog for their video of us and tracking our adventure on their blog.
  • Working Web Solutions: Portland Web Design and SEO for setting up the blog as well as all the cool features.
  • Metal Tech 4×4. who helped out with a custom fab for the larger tires and installed the bull bar, winch and Sway-A-Way suspension.
  • Taylor Made T-Shirts provided help with the Last Great Road Trip t-shirts
  • Heartland Toyota of Bremerton ensured the FJ was lubed, aligned and ready to go

The trip odometer reads 5,816 miles. Take into account the larger tire diameter and correct the calculation you find we traveled 6,105 miles. Add to that the 468 miles traveled on the ferry and we have a total road trip adventure of 6,573.

Common wisdom says when you’re picking out a room mate don’t choose someone you know and like. You’re going to spend a lot of time with this person and eventually little personality flaws will start to cause you to grind your teeth. The same can be said for an extended expedition.

Dad and I were on this adventure morning noon and night, 24×7 for 19 days. And although I’m positive my character flaws stood out like a teenage pimple on prom night, Dad seemed to look the other way and didn’t let anything come between us. Knowing that you are loved and accepted no matter what, is a great feeling and one I grew up with. This unconditional acceptance has allowed me to take risks that would have been too scary without such a safety net.

We saw a lot of grizzlies and musk oxen and caribou and moose and sheep (daul & stone) and ground squirrels and ptarmigans and fish and… We saw magnificent landscapes… We met new friends… and found out a little about ourselves and each other.

Toyota Open Blog & Trama: The Drama told all their friends about us. Our friends told their friends and soon folks from all over the world tuned into our adventure. Many left comments, some sent private messages, but all supported the adventure and thanked us for sharing our thoughts. We appreciate everyone’s comments and knowing that we were connected to a larger community all sharing a love of the road and an understanding of diversity.

For those of you who want more watch for “4WD Toyota Owner” to run a story on our adventure in an upcoming issue.

The “Last” in last great road trip does not mean there wont be another. Last refers to the few exciting adventures left out there in the world’s “roads.” There are still a few left they are just much harder to find. The Arctic Circle qualifies! We’re looking for the next last great one and want to hear your thoughts: Baja, Zihuatanejo, or even Tierra del Fuego! With any luck the next off road adventure will include a diverse group of family and friends, a veritable cadre of diversification celebration.

fj cruiser roof top gas storage

Day 19: There’s No Place Like Home

fj cruiser thompson river rv parkStart: Williams Lake, BC
Finish: Poulsbo, WA. USA

We spent the night in Williams Lake where they hold the annual stampede. This looks like a very cool rodeo and maybe we’ll be able to go back for the stampede some day.

The last day of our adventure and we’re riding an emotional roller coaster. We’re ready to see our family and friends again but we have been looking East to Edmonton, Alberta… Maybe next time… with the sun shining, the sky is a beautiful blue, the thermometer reads a perfect temperature of 72 and the wind is at our back it looks like even mother nature wants us to end this adventure on a great note.thompson valley parklands rest top

Turns out we own a River, an RV Park, and a Provincial Rest Stop. We drove down from Williams lake following the Thompson river to where it meets up with the Fraser river.

And while at our rest stop we thought we would take care of a little work. Before we left the asphalt in Fairbanks, AK. we gassed up with the four Jerry Cans with premium. The cans were just in case one the stations on the map was closed along the way or we were off on a trail longer than expected… Surprisingly many gas stations and hotels were closed for the season, but with a little fuel management we never had to dig into the cruiser roof rack

That was the good news… The bad news is that we had 20 gallons of fuel on the roof and the Washington State Ferry system has a maximum of 12 gallons of extra fuel allowed. This is why we decided to pull into our rest stop and put the gas into the rig. A gallon of gas weighs 6.152 lbs. and each of the four Jerry Cans holds five gallons. That’s 123.04 lbs. on the roof that needed to be put into the rig. But with Dad’s help manning the camera I was able to wrangle down the cans and empty them into the rig… I only smelled like gas for a few miles… we drove with the windows down.

gas can fueling fj cruiserThe day was beautiful until we approached Hells Gate. This is where the the temperature started rising from 72 to 87. The sun that was shining is now glaring in our eyes and the straight road has turned into a snake winding back on itself filled with trucks and campers. Thanks to Dad’s clean living, we managed to escape Satan’s grip.

After Hells Gate we were making good time… that is until we hit the US Boarder. Remember Dad’s little problem with Homeland Security? Well it caught up with him again at the US Boarder in Sumas WA. We spent another fun filled hour at a boarder crossing while Dad and the Boarder patrol played 20 questions. Dad was allowed back into the country and we were able to avoid a full search of the rig.hells gate

The last ferry on our adventure is to bring us across the sound from Edmonds to Kingston. When we rolled up to the house there was Mom waiting… and wanting to make sure the I gave Dad back in tact… I made her sign off that she received him back in good shape.

After 5816 miles, 8 ferry rides, 19 days and countless gallons of gas we completed our adventure. The next post will be a look back over the trip and pull it all together… or maybe we should create a second website and call it the director’s cut addition… we can repackage this blog and sell it a dozen times over… It has worked for Disney… or we can start work on the squeal. Baja, Rubicon, Utah backcountry discovery routehells gate lookout

Joyce: I wanted to stretch out the adventure… Soon there will be an epilogue with a special bonus video. That way you don’t have to go cold turkey. And how could you think this is not all for you. The whole blog is just for you and all the Joyce in each of us.

Mary: Yes the Dad loved the A&W and they are all over the cruiser dash view

Barbie: Thanks for the note and the nice words. Although I’m not sure about that advice on Maura’s retail therapy… I’ll look into a second opinion.

John: After 46 years you earn a little more slack than after only 10.

Welcome to Chetwynd

Day 18: Day’s You Should Never Forget

grupm wood sculptureStart: Dawson Creek, BC
Finish: Williams Lake, BC
Mileage today:380
Mileage total: 5423

Moose: 1
Mule Deer: 2

Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday. Today is Mom and Dad’s Anniversary. As the story goes… Mom did not want to be a teenage bride so she celebrated her 20th birthday and the next day they were married . That was 46 years ago. Although I did drag Dad north on Mom’s birthday and their anniversary… He called… They talked… All is well… I guess after 46 years you have these things worked out.

Ok we might not have the most healthy diet… Started with donuts and than stopped in at A&W for a big frosty one. Dad really likes A&W root beer and there are drive-ins all over Canada. They still serve their root beer in a big old frosty glass mug. The A&W we stopped at was in Chetwynd, BC. and it turns out Chetwynd is the chainsaw carving capital of the world… The carvings are everywhere throughout the town. Dad and I strolled around looking at all of them and comparing them to the carvings in Ocean Shores. We saw one on display that had won first prize and the artist was from Washington state.

You know the leashes they have for little kids so they won’t wonder off from their parent while shopping or walking in the park. I’m going to market one for adults. We have seen some pretty large, aggressive, and potentially dangerous animals including Grizzly Bear, Bison and Moose. Each time we see them I turn for the camera and than have to turn back for Dad. The other day with the bison, Dad had jumped out and was walking back to the rear of the rig for a better view while the bison were all around us only 20 feet away. I was in the driver’s seat staring down a big bison cow who was grunting and kicking the ground at me while snot was flying from her nose because Dad and the Rig were between her and her calf… During this I’m trying to calmly ask Dad to climb back in the rig and snap off an award winning photo.

Today I spotted a moose walking across the highway several hundred yards ahead of us. I pulled the rig off to the side where I thought I had seen it cross. As I am trying to maneuver off the highway so as not to be hit by the 18 wheeler bearing down on us and avoid the four foot drop-off on the side of the road’s shoulder. While I’m balancing the rig between this rock and hard place knowing there is a full grown moose within yards of were we are that could charge the rig… Dad starts opening the door to jump out…

Dad is an adult so why worry? You’ve seen the pictures… Dad’s mobility from zero to any speed is not what it once was and Mom made it pretty clear that she would hold me personally responsible for returning Dad to her in the same condition I found him in. That condition did not include any antler goring or claw marks. And since I did not opt for the extra damage insurance, I have to be careful with him.

Turns out we did get off to the side of the road. Dad looked out the window and spotted the moose stepping into the lake just below where we were. We did step out onto the highway’s shoulder and watched the moose cross the shallow lake and disappear into bush. Dad and I spent five minutes together watching the moose as she took a step looked back at us… took a step… looked back… We did not even get a picture since we were having such a good time watching the moose move so easily through the lake.

With the ALCAN ending in Dawson Creek we switched over to highway 97 today. 97 is the highway we came up on to reach Prince Rupert. We went through some of these cities only two weeks ago and we could hardly remember them. I guess the good part about getting old… is that you can hide your own Easter Eggs.

Mary: We have all the amateur naturalists and tourists pamphlets. Dad reads them and than gives me the highlights. We also have the Milepost, a big, thick travel guide full of all kinds of key information.

John: Go Big Red. Glad you like the pictures. Yes 5K so today we had to get an oil change… The oil was only three weeks old but looking a little tired… The guys at the oil change shop thought the rig was cool. They were slow, so all of them were hovering, poking around underneath and asking about how we liked our FJ. These guys even pointed out some trails for us to go play on if we had some time.

Joyce: Now you can see the price I’m having to pay for all those close-ups that keep you coming back. I’m glad I could risk my Mom’s wrath and Dad’s life for your entertainment.

running caribou

Day 17: You Say It’s Your Birthday…

rock sheepStart: Muncho Lake, BC
Finish: Dawson Creek, BC
Miles today: 411
Miles total: 5038

Caribou: 22
Stone Sheep: 1

Today is the birthday of my children’s grandmother. For the genealogically challenged, that is my Mom and my Dad’s spouse. Mom, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

rock sheep on roadAnd in celebration of my Mom’s birthday and her diversity, I spent some time on the Genographic project. This is The National Geographic and IBM’s project to trace lines of man’s Y chromosomes back to their origins. One of the cool things the Y chromosome test is showing is that the further back we look to our past the more we are all related. Celebrating our differences really becomes an acceptance of the commonality in our past.

Toad River Restaurant hatToday’s music choice also celebrated Mom’s birthday. We set aside Jimmy and plugged in the music of my people… Los Lobos!

Last night put us in the Rockies… And as you would expect wild life and water abounds. On this adventure we drove to the ancient grounds of the caribou herds (Deadhorse and Inuvik) where tens of thousands of animals come together on their annual migration. Our time in the tundra did yield caribou spottings; One here two there but we saw many more hunters than caribou while in the Arctic Circle. 1,500 miles south in the northern Rocky Mountains we found our caribou herd, remember seven makes a herd, there were 14 and they acted as one, moving in unison.hats collection

On the big game count front, we saw a rare stone sheep. It was very cool. Seems like the caribou and stone sheep were grazing along the road edge for salts.

Did you see the Oklahoma score? Oklahoma 51, Miami 13. Although Dad and I are not big Duck fans, a number of the folks following our adventure are huge Duck fanatics and we were very excited to hear that Oregon bashed Michigan: Ducks 39, Wolverines 7. Go Ducks. That should make the trip to Michigan worth it for Carla, Ray, Pat, Brad, Chris and Joey! Have a safe trip home.

caribou side of the roadDay 16’s post went up this morning from a cafe in Toad while Dad and I had breakfast. The reason we were there is Dad read about their hat collection. The Toad River Restaurant, Gas and Hotel has 7,325 hats on display. If you figure $5 a hat, that means there is $36,625 worth of hats tacked up to the ceiling.

Mention the Alaskan Canadian Highway (ALCAN) and most people think frontier, gold rush, rouged landscapes and dangerous wild life. Most of the our time on this adventure we have lived and experienced some of Jack London’s northern adventures. Today we reached the end of the ALCAN. The ALCAN ends (or begins depending on your viewpoint) at Dawson Creek, British Columbia. We entered the city limits of Dawson Creek and the first thing we saw was a Walmart! We have eased back into civilization. We still have close to 1,000 miles remaining and will continue to find new chapters for our adventure in the remaining concrete jungles between here and Poulsbo, WA.caribou running away

Joyce: I liked “Where is Joe Merchant?” and “Tales From Margarita Ville”. If you or anyone else wants to drop Diane a post card just send it to: Diane Jimmy, P.O. Box 134, Watson Lake, YT. Y0A 1C0. And who know the housing market was sluggish…

John: Thanks for the scores, you’re my life line. You’ll have to take up the laundry question with Dad… But I would be careful… He may write down the instructions, show you how it is done and than you’re on the hook for doing laundry from now on. Teach a man to fish.caribou crossing the road

Loretta: I see that you are taking the X chromosomes side here… We’ll see about the slide show… Get an adventure slide show with every t-shirt sale.

Maura: World meet Maura. Maura is the most beautiful, loving woman in the world who let me go off with my Dad on this adventure while she held the home front together. I could not have done this without you… and NO we are not getting more furniture… unless you want to discuss Antigua 2008.caribou roadside

Mary: what will you do with the new information in the chart?

Shelia: Do you think we should do posts on tape for Jim? maybe podcast them… or even set up a phone in hot line. We may need to put Jim on a twelve step program if he is needing a Last Great Road Trip fix while driving. Antigua 2008 or bust.

road side buffalo

Day 16: A Pirate Looks Past Forty… Old Men Make Noises

fj cruiser canadian rest stopStart: Whitehorse, YT
Finish: Muncho Lake, BC
Miles today: 413
Miles total: 4626

Buffalo: herd.

The day started out overcast but quickly burned off. Planning a long day we left early and quickly out ran the fog. We left the Family restaurant, barber shop, laundry and hotel behind us in Dawson City, YT.

fj cruiser family hotel parking lotThe scenery is changing with each mile we drive south. The pallet used to paint our views today has many more greens and blues with an occasional stroke of gold. The features are changing as well with the trees and bridges becoming bigger; no more 50 year old five-foot spruce trees or one lane wooden bridges.

Old men make noises that can only be heard by everyone around them. The noises are creaks, groans, sighs, and heavy breathing. The problem is I’m the one making the noises. For the duration of this adventure I’ve been fighting a sore back while Dad has been toughing out a sore shoulder. Getting out of the bed each morning… I groan… I grab my back like the crooked old man in the crooked old house… hobble over to the bathroom… and through down a handful of aspirin. By the time I get an hour under my feet and the aspirin kick in my back starts to loosen up and I’m good to hotel white horse canada

Doctor… Doctor… It hurts when I do this… Than don’t do that. Dad’s shoulder only hurts when he moves it. So we have a system that keeps his shoulder still and seems to work most of the time. When Dad is in the rig he gets everything situated so he is not reaching all over the rig. Dad keeps his water and maps close in front of him easily within reach. Anything Dad needs in the back I reach over and grab it for him. Of course were doing 100 km/hr when I reach into the back seat but all adventures have some risk. This system is letting us put on the mileage and is not a big deal… We’re just watching each other’s back.

fj cruiser sign forestWhen recalling road trips from my youth one thing about those trips comes to mind. We did not stop until we needed gas. When Mom or any of us asked to stop at the next rest area we heard… We don’t need gas yet… As the driver on this adventure I control when and where we stop. We stop at every rest area and view point… Not because we have too… but because we can. I also get to stretch my back a little and Dad can make sure his shoulder is good.

Throughout the world there are a number of forests. I have seen the northwest rain forests, and the petrified forests of the southwest. I have even seen the fj cruiser car washTiger Forests of India. Today we went through the Sign Forest of the Yukon. Signs, Signs, Everywhere signs, Do this, Don’t do that… Can’t you read the signs.

After seeing all the signs, we looked at the rig and decided it was time to clean up its sign. The dust and clay from the Dempster is not corrosive like Haul Road, so this was a quick wash to knock off the muck and show off our colors.

new friend sally joOver lunch we had the good fortune to meet Diane Jimmy. Diane is a member of the Kaska Dena Nation. We ran into Diane over lunch when she saw our rig, noticed it was from Washington and asked if we would send her a postcard when we get back. Turns out Diane collects postcards sent to her from around the world. Diane was telling us how she has post cards from Singapore, Australia, and all over the world. We hope to add to her collection soon with a postcard from Poulsbo, Washington. We all travel the world in our own ways. Diane has seen most of the world through three by five cards, each one of them has a friend attached on the other end.

continental divide canadaI did a lot of research prior to starting the adventure and don’t recall that we would be driving along the Continental Divide. We’ve been driving east for quit a ways and rolled onto the northern Rocky Mountains Range. As we headed south and climbed the mountains we started to see a little snow on the peaks. More change in the views which reminds us that each diverse landscape has its own beauty and value.

close up buffalo2,000 pound American Bison are surprisingly easy to see. For one thing they are huge. Pretty much all head and shoulders. Well there are those horns. We saw these as they browsed the grass on the road side. They may not have come down out of the hills to check out the rig… but they did not seem to mind us right in the middle of them either. We say 60+ since the bison refused to stop milling about making the count difficult. Besides, what is important is that we can say… we saw a herd. For a long time before we spotted this group, Dad and Buffalo and calfI debated the number of animals it takes to be called a herd. Two is a pair or couple… three or four are a few… five, six a bunch… we decided a group of seven animals become a herd… and 60ish that is a big herd.

Animal lovers everywhere unite.

This post is being put up over breakfast… We are in Toad population; 4. Even Toad has an Internet cafe… More later… truckers are hovering for the table now that we are done with our eggs.

alaska valley fall colors

Day 15: Lies My Mother Told Me

white horse canada fj cruiserStart: Dawson City, Yukon
Finish: Whitehorse, Yukon
Miles today: 327
Miles total: 4212

big game: zero, big goose egg, zip, zippo, no hay nada más

Growing up there were certain thing about my Dad that we all held as undeniable truths. My mother told us these “facts” and maintains their truthfulness to this day. After 15 days and 14 nights with my Dad I’m here to set the record straight.

Previously Undisputed FactsTruth
Dad is allergic to chocolate and will get canker sores and swell up.The morning before last, Dad enjoyed a glass of hot chocolate with his pancake breakfast.  Dad did not instantly explode. As far as I could tell he did not even get a cranky feeling.
When Dad sleeps he lays on his back, folds his arms and sleeps like the dead.Did I mention he fell out of bed the other night? I stay up late posting each night and Dad goes to  sleep.  Dad tosses and turns throughout the night.  He snores, coughs and gets up about three times a night. And he snores like a big dog.
Ketchup is as wild a condiment as Dad likes.We had Mexican the other night. I could barely get a chip edged in to the salsa as Dad kept dipping his chips in the medium spicy sauce. He even ordered the spicy enchilada plate.
Dad’s taste runs toward plain meat and potatoes. He does not like all that Mugu Gai Pan, fried pig knuckles or Moo Shu Pork… Just go to McDonald’s and he’ll be fine.We just came back from dinner. We went to “Taste of India”. Dad enjoyed the dinner including the Butter Chicken, Nan, Samosa, Goat Curry, Palak Paneer and Mattar Paneer. He really enjoyed the Butter Chicken.
Dad can’t do anything for himself!Dad is doing laundry for both of us…  But now I get the brilliance behind Dad pretending not to be able to do anything for himself…  He did not have too!  I’m still learning from Dad.
If Dad gets a bug bit he will pick at it all day until is bleeds and gets infected.OH Wait… That one is true.

The Internet is amazing. I am getting WiFi everywhere. On the other hand the AT&T cell coverage is non-existent out here. And out here is basically all of Canada. I was about to get a Skype account for calling land lines… but I guess we could use a pay phone… I think they still have those around. Don’t they?

Today was an easy day. The first day in a long time that we were on asphalt! And surprisingly very little traffic. Seems like after school is back in the only traffic are locals and the Holland America tour buses. The colors are amazing. Yellow, gold, pale and deep greens along with carpets of red. I have to remember this is not the Dempster so I can’t use both halves of the road… they have lines on these roads and they get upset if you go outside of those lines. But with very little traffic no one seems to mind. That was the Klondike. Tomorrow we start our trip south on the ALCAN.

The rains came in today and it helped clean the bugs off the windshield. Hopefully, mother nature will clean off the sides so the Last Great Road Trip sticker is visible again. I may have to break down and clean it up again.

We are in Whitehorse, Yukon. The population is 13,000. Wow that seems like a lot after staying in so many cities and towns where the population could be counted without having to take off your shoes. Whitehorse has parking meters for downtown. In places like Deadhorse you just pull off the road and call it a good. The choices we had in Whitehorse for hotels almost froze us in our tracks. Luckily, Dad was able to put that 30 years of IBM systems engineering to work, build a decision tree and picked a hotel. It was the first one that said Internet on the sign.

Tomorrow is going to be a hard day’s night. We’re looking at about 500 miles. And it looks like it will be in the rain…

I know the pictures are thin… but do you really want a picture of Dad and I eating sandwiches in the rig at a rest-stop call the roadhouse? Or Images of us filling up the gas tank again with 39 liters of premium gas?

There are long times when neither of us say much…. but when the silence is broken by calling out a mile (kilometer) marker or other mundane road sign, we both know it is just our way of saying glad you’re here with me on this adventure.

WOW: Six, Seven, Eight new comments. Thank you! Do you know why 6 was afraid of 7? Because 7,ate 9! these math jokes crack me up.

Jim: You crack me up… But seriously, use the back alley for your next expedition to Home Depot and than you can tell everyone how you had to go off road to get to the mall. Start thinking Antigua 2008.

Shelia: We are on our way back but an exact arrival ETA is tough since it depends on how many miles we feel like driving. My guess 4 more days.

Mary: it is 46 years. And Dad knew the important dates… they are engraved in his wedding band.

John: Ok if you want to live this… I’m trying to write this post while Dad sucks the paint off the walls with his snoring… I’m sure though when he is up at five and I’m dead asleep, he thinks… Great Paul is snoring loud enough to wake the dead. Yeah… It is worth it.

Barbie: thanks for the note and checking in on the family while Dad and I are on this expedition. Top of the world this time… Next adventure Antigua.

Carla / Ray: Thank you for the words of encouragement. Have a safe trip to Michigan. Say hi to Maura’s brothers. Several of them will be there rooting on the Ducks with you.

Joyce: You show people this… If I knew anyone would see and read this I would have never started the blog. Thanks for keeping us alive and well at work.

arctic circle sign fj cruiser

Day 14: Everything Old Is New Again

ferry crossing dempster highwayStart: Inuvik, North West Territory
Finish: Dawson City, Yukon
Miles today: 450
Miles total: 3872

Caribou: 8
Wild mustangs: 7
Porcupine: 1

I have finally achieved the Zen road trip adventure state I’ve been after. When the adventure started I was jumping up at 5:00 a.m. just like it was work. Now… 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. Dad wakes me… I’m in a relaxed state of mind. I find myself logging on the Internet when ever I can to check if any new comments have been left for us. Every time I see a new comment my spirits get a nice lift. Thanks for letting us know you guys are following along.

fj cruiser ferry crossing dempster highwayAfter a day of rest, laundry, and talking with local folks we left Inuvik and are heading south for the rest of the adventure… We did stop at the North Mart to buy some food for the road so we could avoid those $10 cardboard sandwiches at Eagle Pass.

The morning started out the same as always… Dad gets in an early nap. I plug in the iPod and listen to some Jimmy Buffet. It is nice being able to plug in the iPod to the car stereo since there is nothing coming in over the airwaves.

Coming back down the Dempster means 449 miles, two ferries and at least one gas stop. On the way north we had some traffic. On the way south, we drove 53 miles before we saw any other car on the road. Part of that is the ferry which does not begin service until 9:30 a.m. As we pulled up to the first ferry it was clear we were the first to be heading south. This ferry runs on a wire and is pulled across the river giving the boat staff time between docking.  The crew checked us out and thought our rig was cool… they asked if they could look inside and asked us about it on the short boat rid across the river. We asked, how do you make a dock out of dirt that does not wash away…  “You don’t.  You just keep remaking it.”18 wheeler on dempster highway

The Dempster is better than the Haul Road with less truck traffic and getting by an oncoming rig is not such a tight squeeze. However with the clear dry weather the gravel and dirt road is a bit dusty and trucks kick up dust. A lot of dust. There is no question when a truck is coming, you see the dust cloud coming from a mile away. This truck made the passing easy he slowed and moved to the side. The trucks on Haul Road did not slow down and did not give up any of the road. It was up to us to get small and move to the edge of the road and then not get sworn at to much.

We hit a major milestone. We crossed the Arctic Circle’s line of demarcation for the last time. To commemorate the fourth and final crossing, Dad and I pulled out our sandwiches from North Mart and enjoyed a little picnic. Ok, not a champagne and caviar, and the entertainment was an iPod, but the sun was out and the company was good, making this the best celebration so far.

fall colors dempster highwayOn the way back we crossed a two mountain ranges. Mountain ranges tend to hold clouds up. At this pass we had just come through a hail storm and a brief down pour. You can see the clouds hanging over us. Even with the clouds you can see the veins of gold running down the mountain. I stuck the rig in there so you would have a little perspective on how vast the land here is.

Did I mention the road was dusty! 900 mile of the Dempster.

dirty fj cruiserWe ended the day where we started it two days ago, at Klondike Kate’s. It was 8:00 p.m. and sunny when we rolled in to the restaurant. They were packed for dinner. It is a great feeling when you sit down and from the back comes Josee (Owner and big Toyota fan) to welcome us. While we’re not rock stars, it is nice to feel special so far from home. We’ll see Josee one more time for breakfast before we leave for Whitehorse.

John: You have to be one of our biggest supporters. Thanks! No terry cloth robs, no room service and no day spa activities. Unfortunately I am not loosing weight we are just paying too much to continue to eat more than I should.

fj cruiser fall colors dempster highwayJoyce: I know you felt all cloths were created equal and deserving of equal respect. Filling up the gas tank today $86. Unfortunately the Canadian Paso is up against the dollar. One Canadian dollar equals 95 cents US.

Randy: Glad to hear from you and I’m all for hooking into a few Sea Runs when I get back.

Mary: Thank you for keeping up with us and publicizing the trip so much.

inuvik canada row houses

Day 13: And On The 13th Day We Rested

Eskimo Inn fj cruiser inuvik canadaStart: Inuvik, North West Territory
Finish: Inuvik, NWT
Miles today: 0
Miles total: 3422

We came in late last night and decided we could use a day of rest. The day of rest felt good but it also gave us an opportunity to miss everyone not on the trip (home sick). All y’all’s notes help and we appreciate the thoughts and comments.

We did make a run to the gas station to fill up the rig. The price is $1.79 per liter. For the math challenged folks their are 3.79 liters in a gallon which means we paid $6.78 a gallon. Yesterday on the way in to Inuvik we stopped at Eagle Creek the half way point to fill up and buy two sandwiches along with two sodas. I know they were sandwiches because they had two pieces of bread, a sliver of ham, one piece of lettuce and a dab of mayonnaise. This stop $106.44! I can’t figure out weather a $7 gas price or $9 day-old sandwich wrapped in Saran Wrap is worse. The law of supply and demand is definitely at work in this part of the world.

I walked through town… yes walked… down to the Inuvik cultural and visitor center. The woman running the center is Naudia Lennie. She has lived in this area all her life. Naudia and I talked about growing up in the area, the bush, and how energy companies have changed the culture. While Naudia and I talked I heard a theme in her stories of tribal elders and her youth. Her theme is that we continue to have to learn the lessons of respect for all over and over.

musk oxen inuvik canadaIf you have never seen a musk ox up close here is an opportunity. These things are just a decade north of prehistoric and they don’t move unless they want too. This one doesn’t move at all since he is stuffed and standing in the visitor center.

While I walked around town Dad was able to catch up on a proper nap. That nap really paid off since after he awoke, he threw together a load of our laundry so we are bright, clean and neat again. And yes one load with all the cloths thrown together. While Mom and Hula Betty are cringing… We have clean cloths even if we mixed whites, colors and darks all together in one load…. Remember we are celebrating diversity.

We are staying at the Eskimo Inn. The hotel is popular with the contractors working on the gas and oil rigs out in the ocean. Nothing exciting but the rooms are clean and warm. Dad gets the double bed, I get the single bed in the corner. Did I mention Dad did the laundry… I’ll take the single bed every time.

Permafrost is ground that remains frozen for two or more years. Up here we are on the permafrost so the buildings need to adapt to that. If you set a building on the ground, the heat will eventually melt the earth below and the house will sink. To get around this, everything is set off the ground a couple of feet. Houses, sheds as well as water and sewer pipes.

Did i mention we drove 449 miles of gravel road yesterday… not to be a baby but that was a lot and we lost two hours… I know you’re asking your self how did they loose two hours? Well we crossed into the North West Territories and they are in a different time zone. And they don’t use daylight savings… when the day lasts six months the idea of daylight savings doesn’t make much sense.

Barbie: Thank you for the b-day thoughts and the Labour Day info. Dad says hi back.

John: This was no road… its half run off creek, half horse trail, half two track… a lot of halves make a hole. And yes it was about two miles when we reached the top of a mountain and decided to turn around. The trail continued and we were told that the trails around there lead to old mining claims.

Please keep those cards and letters coming, we really appreciate the thoughts and questions.