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.

foggy dempster highway

Day 12: Just Turn North At the Corner

dempster highway warning signStart: Dawson City, Yukon Canada
Finish: Inuvik, Northwest Territory Canada
Miles today: 449
Miles total: 3422

Bobcat: 1
Ptarmigan: 5
Weasel: 1
Windshield rock chip: 1

It appears most fans are reading about us at work… Y’all have lots of post to catch up on from the long weekend. Don’t let the boss catch 80 series fj cruiser

There are approximately seven billion souls in the world, 33,009,102 people living in Canada and two cool Internet domains “” (thats us) and “” (an annual publication dedicated to traveling Alaska and British Columbia). Guess who we ran into today? And check out Greg’s Toyota… Right hand drive.

Dawson City is still thriving on its mining and gold rush heritage. Many of the businesses have a history dating back to 1900s and ties to the historic figures of the town. For example Klondike Kate’s is a tribute to Kate Rockwell known as: “The Queen of the Klondike”, “flower of the North” and the “Darling of Dawson” by the miners of the time.kondike kate fj cruiser

Today Josee Savard is the proprietress of Klondike Kate’s and as she jumped up on the bull bar I swear I heard, Silly boy, 4×4 rigs are for girls! Turns out Josee loves the FJ Cruiser and is planning to get one soon. She is hoping Toyota will see that she is the self-appointed number 1 Toyota fan and reward her with a discount on her FJC. As you might have guessed Kondike Kate’s has t-shirts, and Josee was eager to make a trade. Hopefully we’ll get a picture of Joesee and her FJC as soon as she picks it up.

When this adventure was first conceived, traveling the Haul Road was the major goal. As we moved closer to our adventure’s start date, we expanded the off-asphalt portion to include Inuvik at the top of the Dempster Highway. The Dempster Highway is 457 miles from its start out side of Dawson City to its finish in Inuvik. We decided to do this all in one day… Today! We started up the highway around 11:00 a.m. we finished around midnight. And we listened to Jimmy Buffet all the way.dempster highway view

The tundra is different here on the Dempster. We are in the hills with the scrubby spruce trees everywhere. The views are limited when we are on the road but on the hill tops you can see forever.

By the way the Dempster highway took out of The Yukon and put us deep into the Northwest Territory with 1,171,918 square kilometers and one city. We lost… or gained an hour… it is one hour later than where we were… This bit of information would have help us to know… things close early and if you think it is seven p.m. and it is really nine p.m. you have a problem. You’ll find out more about that later. Here is a map that will give you some perspective on the vastness of Canada’s Northwest Territories:  It’s big…  Really BIG! with very few roads northwest territories highways map

dempster highway rear viewIn order for everyone to experience the road, we have a couple of pictures to let you know exactly what Dad and I are experiencing.

There is the view we have out the front window.

And then there is the view out of the back… we don’t look backwards much…  ok any, it’s not like we have traffic following us.

And finally there is the view we had on the Dempster as the sun went down.

fj cruiser oglivie ridgeWe are finding out that the impulsive portion of our adventure comes with some challenges. First, we drove into Fort McPherson, about 3/4 up the Dempster planning to fill up the rig. According to the “Mile Post” there are two gas stations to serve travelers. The first one was closed for Labor Day… since when is Labor Day a holiday in Canada? The second was closed just because it was 9:00 p.m. Remember this is a town with less than 1,000 people and very few visitors this or any time of year. So we left Fort McPherson, with a half a tank of gas, a full set of tunes and a mission from god hoping to make Inuvik, the next fuel stop 186 km north…  hoping our km to mpg conversion is correct.

Second, we had a ferry to catch… they don’t run around the clock… all we knew was they run  about 14 hours a day… but not when they start or when they stop… it was now 9:30 p.m…. drive… DRIVE like HELL and hope it is still running… or… we sleep in the car and catch the first ferry in the morning.

dempster highway valley viewThe final challenge came when we finally coasted into Inuvik on fumes after catching our ferry (yes we caught the last sailing) and found the hotel we had been referred too. Banging on a locked hotel door should have indicated a problem. When a face finally came to the window, she told us they were closed for the season.  For the season??!!  This is no way to run a business. Well Dad pulled out the guide books and found the Eskimo Inn. Why the Eskimo Inn… It has the most rooms in town. And we got the last one!

fj cruiser northwest territory signJoyce: You were right on the direction… But we turn back north and will be here for another day… than you’re right… it is all south and homeward bound. But we plan to have a few more adventures on the way as we connect with the ALCAN.

Shelia: Good eyes… but I shaved most of it off this morning… now I’m sporting a goat. That will last until I return home. Your sister hates me with a goat.

fj cruiser alaska two track

Day 11: Happy Trails To You…

fj cruiser and land cruiserTwo generations has referred to Dad and I. When we awoke this morning we found two generations of Toyota.

Back tracking from Fairbanks to Tok was uneventful… and when I say uneventful I mean Dad napped most of the time for the first 150 miles. Dad claimed to be resting his eyes and throwing out a couple of snores now and than to keep me attentive to the road. This simply meant there was a lot of me time to enjoy the road. Today there was significantly less traffic then a few days back making the me time absolutely just myself.chicken alaska fj cruiser

After Tok we headed to Chicken. And as the 1/2 day post said there is no electricity, no water and no indoor plumbing. There are generators, water tankers, solar collectors and free WiFi Internet. The road to Chicken falls into the category of washboard gravel with patch of asphalt. The road makes Chicken a welcome stop for lunch and world famous pie… Really the pie is world famous and very very very good. Dad had apple while I enjoyed the blueberry pie. Surprisingly there are multiple Chicken want-a-bees. There is the historic Chicken, there is the “Town of Chicken” there is even a “Chicken Creek”. Anything for a buck, buck. Since they are all within a block of each other, we saw them all just to make sure we had the whole chicken experience.chicken alaska gas station

After you leave Chicken you head to the Canadian boarder. The road winds through long time mining activities. These guys take mining seriously since many make a living on their claims. As we climbed out of the valley and approached the boarder we took the turnout only 1000 meters from the crossing to take a last look at Alaska. It is so cool having a car that draws people in. We are in the middle of no where looking over the mountains and a couple pulls in so they can get a look at the rig (ok maybe the breathtaking scenic view). Mike and Martha are from Germany on a drive through the Northwest. They rented a truck and have Mike and Martha fj cruiserdriven south east Alaska, Denali park and are now, like us, heading to the Dempster Highway. Mike was great, he is thinking about getting an FJ so he was full of questions about how it rides and handles. He also let us know about the roads he’d traveled in Australia. With any luck we’ll see them again on the Dempster.

When you cross the boarder the highway becomes the “Top of the World” highway. You drive the gravel along the mountain ridge tops giving you views for miles in all directions with very few other vehicles anywhere on the road. There are no guard rails so you don’t want to enjoy the view too of the world highway

If you’re going to get a 4×4 rig, give it an injection of testosterone with butch mods, you really need to take it further off road than the mall. All along the Top of the World highway were these two tracks heading up to the top of the next peak. Dad and I decided to take a random turn and follow one of the two tracks. What started out pretty tame turned into a fun little trail run to the top of a bluff a couple of miles in. We know others have been here before us, but we can’t help but consider how lucky we are to be in a place and looking out over what most others never will.view of alaska 4x4 trailfj cruiser muddy trail fall colors

fj cruiser muddy trail fall colors fj cruiser muddy trail fall colors fj cruiser muddy trail fall colors fj cruiser muddy trail fall colors fj cruiser muddy trail fall colorsfj cruiser canada valley

fj cruiser canada view

Dad and I used to hike… This is much easier… Grasping a moment for a little trail run is what makes this a great adventure instead of a forced march.

yukon river car ferryDawson City is our goal for the night. The last 1/4 of a mile require a ferry. This is not like the Seattle ferry… This ferry runs 7×24 on a demand basis. When the ferry is ready to leave, it hurls itself into the current of the Yukon River and the captain guns the engine to start heading across. You quickly notice you are being pulled down stream as the massive engines burp smoke and churn the water to gain a foothold against the current. This is the same way they have been crossing the river for centuries so who are we to go against tradition.

We did not have a reservation in Dawson City and it turns out today was the annual outhouse races. That means all the hotels in town were booked up. We did manage to find a room just out of town…old alaskan cabin

… it even has indoor plumbing (have to be specific out here), HBO and free WiFi. We wandered back to town and had dinner at the oldest working casino in North America, Diamond Tooth Gerties. What happens at Diamond Tooth Gerties…  Stays at Diamond Tooth Gerties.

Mary: Dad is sleeping in a warm cozy bed every night… I get the futon, roll-away or what ever is left over.

chicken alaska sign

Day 11 1/2 the first half same as the last

Rather than detail the journey from Fairbanks to Tok, I’ll refer you to day 4 Arctic Circle adventure and suggest you read from the bottom up.

The cool thing is that this post is being published from Chicken, Alaska. Go follow the link and see what is what in Chicken, I’ll be back with more later or you can see what I posted about small towns in Alaska before the trip…

The town’s fore fathers wanted to name the town after the Alaska state bird but they couldn’t agree on how to spell Ptarmigan.  Welcome to Chicken, Alaska.

This place is everything we had hoped for… and less. But know this… in Chicken there is no electricity, no phone or cell service, no running water, no indoor plumbing but there is free WiFi access from a solar powered satellite up-link. How else did you think I got this up to the website??!! Technology triumphs again.

And yes… I’m having pie!

dirty fj cruiser leaving haul road

Day 10: One Road Ends, Another Begins

fj cruiser dalton highway arctic circle signStart: Wiseman, Alaska
Finish: Fairbanks, Alaska
Miles today: 217
Total Miles: 2584

Big Game Count:0

First lets get the important things out of the way: Oklahoma 79 the other guys 10. Go Big Red! College football started today. It is a great day!

When there is no electricity and it is raining you go to bed early and get up early. I awoke to a thud and found Dad and his mattress on the floor. That is how our day started out in the cabin. You knew it just had to get better from there.

Coldfoot camp is open 24 hours a day. That is good since we headed right over to there when we left Wiseman at zero dark thirty. A good breakfast and a full tank of gas are a great way to brighten an overcast rainy morning.

Driving back through the Alaskan bush this time we took advantage of the sites we picked out on the way up. For example, Grayling lake is a beautiful spot and famed for its fishing. We had scouted it on the way up and I wanted to wet a line on the way south. I am not a lake fishing guy and with the lake surrounded by trees up to the shoreline, casting was not easy. Fish 1, Me 0.releasing arctic grayling

I get rivers. When we pulled up to Jim River 3, yes there is a Jim River 2 and 1, I knew this had potential. With the third cast I was into a very nice Arctic Grayling and before long I had him landed and released back into the water. The Arctic Grayling has always been one of the fish on my list to cast too but until now I’ve never been near water that held them. This morning was continuing to improve.

When you go north up into the Arctic Circle, you have to come back out the same way. This was our second crossing of the famed latitude. This time there were no fly or mosquito swarms about so we lingered a little, read the plaques and checked out some of the rustic camp sites.

arctic circle weather stationWhy are there Economists? To make weathermen appear more accurate. When you’re on the road weather matters, and it doesn’t. You would like it to be sunny and blue sky but the rain can be refreshing as well. So how do the weathermen get their data to make their predictions? Well on the Dalton Highway it stations like this that relay information back. Ok this is a little geeky but since Dad and I went exploring the different two tracks off the highway we have found all sorts of cool stuff like this.

The last fuel stop coming south, or the first going north is Yukon Crossing, on what else but the Yukon river. This place is part of the life line of Haul Road. You can fuel up, get a bite to eat and pick up a t-shirt. And that is exactly what we did. But you guessed it, Mike and I did a little horse trading and I ended up with a cool Yukon River Camp t-shirt.

arctic circle friends fj cruiserA few days back when we first stopped at the Arctic Circle marker we met to friends Jason and Vadimira. They were heading up into the Brooks Range for some camping. Vadimira is from Slovakia working in Anchorage as an Au Pair for the summer. With a week off she and Jason decided to do a little camping and see how far north they could go. They also brought the dog… big and lovable.

We’d seen their truck a number of times and finally caught back up with them at Yukon Crossing and than again at a scenic look out. With all this crisscrossing of paths we decided we needed a picture of them and they could use a Last Great Road Trip shirt.

Vadimira fj cruiserWell we left the Haul Road and are back on the main highway again. We rolled into Fairbanks found a hotel and a car wash. The rig was wearing a thick layer of the Dalton Highway. The road contains a chemical to stabilize the gravel, mud and rubber mix that is a bit corrosive so getting it off is important. Washing off the Haul Road took $28 in quarters. Now to go and put so new dirt on the rig.

We want to thank Mary of Working Web Solutions (WWS), Web Design Portland, Oregon who has been reviewing and correcting the grammatical errors on these posts… but as so many pointed out…  maybe we could use a new editor. WWS also performed a little search engine optimization so we should be easier for you to find.

Mike: Wow we have not been gone from your place for more than an hour and you already found us on-line. Thank you so much for the t-shirt trade and travel wishes. Have a great weekend.

John: Thanks for the sooner update. I know you have my back.

Kara: Thanks for the birthday wishes. Hope you guys are having fun on your trip in CA.

Joyce: You remembered my b-day, I’m touched. With all your friends and you still remember my birthday… Thank you, your still our number one fan.

Prudhoe bay hotel

Day 9: It’s The Water, And A Whole Lot More

north slope alaskaStart: Deadhorse, Alaska
Finish: Wiseman, Alaska
Miles today: 220
Total Miles: 2313

Dall Sheep 40
Musk Ox: 18
Caribou: 16
Ground Squirrel: lots (they’re not big game but so darn cute)
Window chips: 1

We woke up in Deadhorse at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel. The view is nothing to write home about but the room, meals and location make up for the view. It was 34 degrees this morning and technically still summer.

deadhorse alaska parkingYou cannot get to the Arctic Ocean from Deadhorse unless you are in the know and possess $30. We happened to have both. In order to reach the Arctic Ocean you need to go through the North Slope oil fields and the drilling operations run by BP, Exxon, Shell and a few others. Since 911 the area has been off limits to the public. The way around this little road block is to join an organized tour group which takes folks by bus, explaining the oil field operations and showing the sites, including the Arctic Ocean.

The tour is run out of the Caribou Inn, the only other hotel in Deadhorse, and is associated with the Princess Cruise Line. About 50 folks cruised their way up to Anchorage and then bussed up through Denali National Park, to Fairbanks and finally Deadhorse. The great thing about taking this tour was the ability to be one of the youngest one in the room again. Even our Security Escort was retiring this year after 23 years on the oil fields.

musk oxenThe tour starts with a video (read commercial) on the history and safety record of the pipeline. The oil field is a 365, 24×7 operation with the guys working 12 hour shifts, two weeks on followed by two weeks off. Unless the planes are grounded or can’t land due to fog, Ice, or extreme cold. When we finished watching the commercial (oops I mean historically rich video) and our security escort returned, he had some bad news. There are three polar bears in the region and currently one is loitering by the location where we would normally get out an see the Arctic Ocean. Their security had been maintaining a watch on the bear for a few hours. Because the polar bear was in the area we would not be allowed off the buses.

standing in arctic oceanAs we piled on to the buses for the tour we were joined by Greg, the owner of the Caribou Inn who runs the local tours of the oil field. Once under way Greg explained how the different fields are self-contained with staff and dorm rooms. He pointed out that they have their own fire department and private security. He showed us where the oil executives stay when they fly up for their annual meeting. Greg also explained how they inspect every inch of pipe in a giant warehouse prior to it being approved for use and how they are able to explore for new oil with a minimal impact to the environment by performing this work only in winter.

Arctic ocean north slope alaskaAnd with that we circled a lot of rusting equipment and found the Arctic Ocean in front of us. Greg and the Security Escorts conferred. There was some chin rubbing, and some chatter on the walkie-talkies. More chin rubbing and after a little more conferring, we were told we could go out to the water in small groups while the additional security who had met us there posted watch. Turns out the polar bear had last been seen by security swimming out to sea only 30 minutes earlier. The bears can swim for miles and are almost impossible to spot since most of their mass in underwater.

When our turn came, we got off the bus and headed for the ocean only 30 yards away. Prepared for this opportunity, I had thrown on shorts and Keens. While others removed their shoes and socks, rolled up there paint legs and tip-toed into the water as it lightly lapped at the shore, I walked in up to my knees and stood in the 38 degree ocean water waiting for Dad to take a picture. This water is cold, and when Dad finally snapped a few pictures, I quickly ran back to shore to see the results. At that point I adjusted the camera, handed it back to Dad and proceeded back into the 38 degree ocean.rugged alaska brooks range foot hills

Dad’s turn was next and I readied the camera. Dad explained to me it is not the amount of water you experience but the intensity with which you experience the water. So as Dad stuck his finger into the 38 degree water he said “Rubin & the crew at the Ocean Shores McDonald’s; Joan and Harold I hope you are enjoying the pictures and adventure stories.” And with that Dad completed his swim in the Arctic Ocean and headed back to the bus.

hiking alaska brooks range foothillsWe headed out of Deadhorse in a drizzle. While coming north the weather was sunshine and blue skies, today reflected to true charter of region. Heading south we slipped back into our seats, smiled and started to peer out the windows for large game animals to add to our count. Today was a banner day for Musk Oxen and Dall Sheep. There are 27,000 caribou in the Prudhoe Bay heard. We saw 16. They must count the same caribou more than once.

standing at the base of brooks rangeOn the way south as we retraced our previous steps, we descended into the Brooks Mountain Range. One knoll in particular seemed to call out my name. Well being charitable and cautious I approached it. In fact I made a quick walk up to the top of the knoll to take in one final drink of the surrounding beauty. And while the clouds seem to be following us down the mountains, the view remains incredible as I looked for miles in both directions.

hiking haul roadWe’ve stayed in Wiseman before. S we know what to expect living off the grid. We did not know to expect this time. When the two B&B’s in Wiseman are full, June rents out her guest cabin. And by cabin I mean it has four walls and a roof. No power, no water, not heat. The outhouse is 20 feet away. You do receive a pitcher of drinking water, a wash towel and basin along with four, one gallon jugs of water to wash up with. With no lights, no plumbing and no Internet this post will definitely be delayed.

fj cruiser wise man cabinDave: Glad you’re tracking us and I would recommend a trip with their dad to anyone. The t-shirts are a good ice breaker and thanks to Taylor Made T-shirts for getting them to us.

Mary: just because I don’t doesn’t mean I can’t. Glad the story touched you guys but I don’t know about the cruise maybe a 14 day mother daughter bike tour.

Jim: Thanks for the condolences on Hula Betty. She will be missed. The weather is here, wish you were beautiful and thanks for sticking around and reading our posts. Knowing you guys are there rooting for us is very encouraging.

Joyce: Homicide, have you been watching Law and Order again?

Two For The Price Of One.

keep calm and carry onKeep Calm and Read On

I just posted Day 7 & Day 8 stories on the website so catch up on our adventure.

I know we didn’t have to tell you that…  but six years from now when we look back…  and we will look back… we’ll want to know what happened.  It may be the only record that I worked my ass off for all y’all to get back in your good graces by posting the stories of this crazy arctic adventure.

fj cruiser brooks range

Day 8: Top Of The World MA!

fj cruiser dalton highway alaskaStart: Fox, Alaska
Finish: Deadhorse, Alaska
Miles traveled today: 215
Miles total: 2093
Ground Squirrels : 12
Moose: 1
Daul Sheep: 11
Caribou: 15
Musk Ox: 9

We made it to Deadhorse, Alaska the farthest point north on our trip. This is the top of the world if your driving. Turns out you can fly here! Alaska Air has four daily flights in and out.

Today is all Last Great Road Trip. Toyota put out the video of our start. Greg did an incredible job. Just campy enough to be real life… our real life. PLEASE, I BEG YOU, tell Toyota how great it is that they are supporting us. Email Toyota marketing, let them know. They have been great to us.

As you know, if you read day 7, we stayed at Wiseman, Alaska in a little B&B run by Uta and Bernie. fj cruiser motocycles wiseman alaskaThese folks are warm, friendly and some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Bernie settled in Wiseman 23 years ago when he was just 16. Uta came to town 15 years ago. They have a three kids and couple of cabins. They rent out the cabins while they till the earth, hunt and run trap lines making a living off the land. Bernie showed us a little of the gold he had panned while helping a friend test out a new claim. Bernie is getting ready to go out and fill the freezer with moose and caribou. The harvest he’ll take in the next few weeks will need to last his family the year and will be their major source of protein and fat to get through the winter cold.

A couple who was staying in another cabin joined us for breakfast. They are from Colorado. They flew to Anchorage, she purchased and he rented motorcycles and they are hoping to ride them to Deadhorse. The snag they hit this morning was there is no room at the inn. There are only two hotels in Deadhorse and they are booked up. Hopefully they’ll figure it out and we’ll see them tomorrow.FJ cruiser haul road

Alaska changes again when you cross over the Brooks Mountain Range. This is the tundra. The tundra is ground that is frozen year round just inches below the surface. To prevent the road and traffic from melting the tundra, the road is build on eight feet of gravel. You can see for miles in the tundra since no trees grow here. And what you see is the pipeline which stretches on forever.

Caribou hunting season opened in Alaska. The road was dotted with little tent cities the outfitters put together and than run their clients up to. The hunters clearly out numbered the Caribou although we understand the herds are moving south soon. I’m rooting for the Caribou.

One of the rarest animals is the Musk Oxen. We spotted a herd of nine. They are big. Really big. The herd had three calves and six adults. I don’t think we will ever see a sight like that in the wild again. It was cruiser alaska pipeline

A number of folks asked us “how are you going to pass the time on the trip.” We would tell them we just chat and we’re not going to play road trip bingo or the license plate game. Well, we are into count the big game animals. As you can tell from the daily count, some days are better then others. Today… was a very good day. Remember you spot them you got them.

It is my sad responsibility to let everyone know that Hula Betty had a fatal accident falling from the hood of the rig as she was posing for a photo shoot. While we don’t believe the rumors that she jumped there is an open investigation. A small service was held as her porcelain remains were deposited into the earth in Deadhorse. Please join us in a moment of silence in memory of Hula Betty and her contribution to the Last Great Road Trip.daul sheep arctic circle

We are staying at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel. The hotel is a collection of pre-fabricated units sitting on several feet of gravel. The hotel is run like a dorm room. You can get a sleeping quarter bunk or a room that shares a bathroom. We opted for the two rooms one bath. Meals are included, the laundry facility is free including soap, there is a TV and pool room along with all the popcorn you can eat. Basically, if you stay here you, get three hots and a cot. This is a hard working town of roughnecks and to entice the guys to come up and work, everything else is designed to be easy. The feeling around the hotel is that of your old college dorm which isn’t bad either. Tomorrow we are going to catch a tour in order to see the North Slope oil field and the Arctic Ocean. The tour is the only way in.

hula bobble doll fj cruiser emblem Bob & Deb: Glad to hear you made it home ok and are settling back into the work week. We hope to see you on the road again soon.

John: We’re back… but we will be off the grid again tomorrow.

Kara: Thanks for the note. Here are some impressive animal stats.

Mary: you are right, Greg did a fantastic job on the video.

Greg: Thank you so much the video is outstanding. Toyota has been great to support us with the video and postings on their blog.

Barbie: Glad to have you back.

Joyce: Trip groupies and ice coffee… Sorry I missed a day… So when we reached Deadhorse I immediately sprang for the Internet connection and gave up the in-room HBO.

FJ cruiser midnight sun

Day 7: Rough Road, Smooth Road, Fast Road, Slow!

alaska arctic circle sign toyota fj cruiserStart: Fox, Alaska
Finish: Wiseman, Alaska
Mileage today: 216
Mileage total: 1878
0 animals counted today

Got a little Dr. Seuss thing going on the story title tonight …

From Fox, Alaska, the Dalton Highway (“The Haul Road”) is 16 miles. Those were the longest 16 miles I’ve ever driven. I have been planning and looking forward to The Haul Road portion of this trip since March. I mentioned it before, The Haul Road is the road trip. Famed as the road built to lay pipeline, the Dalton Highway is a cross of pavement, gravel, and mud construction with more than its share of washboard and pot hole sections. When the pavement is good you go fast, when the gravel is rutted you go slow and when there is a big truck coming the other way you move over as much as you can. Our rig is performing great. The Sway-A-Way suspension designed for Baja racing showed us it could smooth out the bumps and grinds of the road. The rest of the gear remains at the ready but we’ve not needed any of the recovery or rescue gear. Lets keep it that way.

alaska tundra oil pipe lineOne of the mods we made to the rig was a CB Radio. As your recall, back in Houston we had it checked to make sure everything was working correctly. Well it paid off today. All the truckers running on The Haul Road are on channel 19. Of course that means we’re leaving the CB on 19 as well. As we started up the road, when we came up on the slower trucks working their way up the steep grades it was only a matter of announcing ourselves over the CB and they let us know where an when to pass them. The chatter also helps us keep in touch with what is ahead and behind us. There are no cell towers and no radio stations… CB is it.

Today marked a major milestone for the adventure. We crossed latitude 66 degrees 33 minutes north for the first time. We have entered the Arctic Circle. We made it to the marker and pulled in for another touristy photo opp. Dad and I jump out grabbed Hula Betty and the camera then quickly took a few shots. Why the rush. So far the bugs, mosquitoes and biting flies have been non-existent. However at the Arctic Circle marker they came together from all over Alaska and Dad was on the fj cruiser alaska arctic tundra

You don’t see a lot of scenery shots here. I thought about that for a long while. I’ve taken and deleted a number of panoramic pictures. The pictures have not been able to capture the size and magnificence of what we are driving through. At times the land scape looks to be painted by God and put there just for us. The fall colors (the dog days of summer were over weeks ago) have the oranges and yellows pressed against the green of the spruce with a hint of red and gold draped over the mountains above tree line. The drive at times becomes hypnotizing as you realize the road and the scenic grandeur seem to go on forever.

alaska arcticThere are two fuel stops on the Hall Road were you can stop for gas. It doesn’t matter if you need it, you stop, you get gas. The halfway mark is Coldfoot. This is the truck stop of choice, your only choice for fuel and a good meal. Coldfoot Camp serves up good food and hot coffee. They are also the gas and diesel station as well as renters of the flop house rooms. They don’t run the Airport, that is on the other side of town. We know this because we took a wrong turn and found it.

At Coldfoot, Dad and I ate and chatted. After we ate our fill, drank our coffee and fueled the rig I went back for one more item. Apparently the Last Great Road Trip t-shirts are the hot commodity. Without any trouble a trade was made again and now I have a very cool Coldfoot Camp t-shirt. Alaska is the land of opportunity, at least for t-shirt trading.deluxe cabin wiseman alaska

Just out of Coldfoot, 15 miles or so, is the town of Wiseman. Founded around 1908 it is a non-oil-company town filled with 13 folks, 12 now since one recently left. These people live off the land and way off the grid. If you want lights and hot water out here you make your own electricity. The roofs all have solar collectors and you can spot the windmills just above the trees. The B&B we are in makes us feel at home with hot showers and lights. There is also the Wiseman Airport since every town in Alaska has an Airport. Unfortunately, no Internet so this post will be a few days cruiser wiseman alaska

A number of folks have asked me write about what Dad and I are doing together so here it is. Those of you who know my Dad know he has always been the strong silent one in the room. Well that is no different here on the road. The great thing is that both Dad and I are secure enough in our relationship to allow long periods of silence between us as we drive, eat and room together. The chats we do have are not going to solve world hunger or change the fate of mankind, but knowing that Dad is there next too me on this drive says more than than I’ll ever be able too write in this story.

Finishing up the day I’m sitting here next to the river in Wiseman at close to 10:00 p.m. quietly contemplating the mysteries of life. And while I can feel myself slipping into the rhythm of the river as it tumbles by, I’m no closer to knowing how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop. The Haul Road, a peaceful river bank and the sound of a not so far off coyote howling remind me how lucky I am to be on this adventure with my Dad. Without him I could not have made the trip and this would only be one more dream in my head.

arctic circle weather station

Bonus News

No we didn’t win anything, no one is in the hospital and the rig is fine.  Thanks for asking.

It has been brought to my attention that everyone may not know this about our little website. If you click on the thumbnails (little pictures) you will get a bigger version. Think of this as your own personal Easter egg from us.

And yes we have more pictures.  I am posting the best ones of the bunch…  no sense you having to stay up until all hours of the night sort through everything like I do after driving all day to put together the highlight reel.  I could hurt myself for your entertainment.