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.

FJ Cruiser and the bettys

Day 6: Well, Like I Explained I Aint No Drinking Man

fj cruiser north pole alaskaStart: Beaver Creak, Yukon
Finish: Fox, Alaska
Miles traveled today: 355
Miles total: 1671

Fixing the mess I created but we’ll get to that in a moment. This may be the last Internet connection for a while, tomorrow we start up The Haul Road. You can see what the conditions are like and get road reports from the Alaska Road Travel site. We will be on the Dalton Highway

The road is easy it’s the technology that is hard. As I unwind in the B&B we are staying at, I realized I have uploaded some pictures with names that match the previously uploaded pictures. This is playing havoc with the site and driving me to drink. We’ll see if I can unscramble the mess by the morning.

We just finished dinner at the Silver Gulch Brewing & Bottling Co. When I was going to university at Portland State I quickly realized that while Seattle had a Starbucks on every corner, Portland had a brew pub on every corner. Falling back into my youth we pulled into the Silver Gultch so I can now say I’ve been to America’s most Northern Brewery. This place is pretty cool. Located in the small mining community of Fox, Alaska, it started out in the 1920 as a road house and became a bar in the 50’s changing owners and names over the years until in 1998 Glenn Brady took over the place and moved his home brew to the big time. You can read more about them on there website

Keeping with the frontier spirit I thought I would do a little horse trading at the bar. After our dinner I call over the manager, Mary and started to bargain. Following a few minutes of dickering back and forth we came away with a handshake and a deal… Mary gets a Last Great Road Trip t-shirt and I get a cool Silver Gulch Brewing & Bottling Co. t-shirt.

Surprisingly we found the North Pole just outside of Fairbanks. Ok, so this was a pure tourist trap but you have to do it. Years from now when we recall this trip we will be able to tell everyone how we went to the Arctic Circle and the North Pole. Hula Betty finally got over the trauma of the bear and is back in the pictures.

Leaving TOK put us on target to reach Fairbanks and than Fox. We have the road all to ourselves most of the time with only the occasional vehicle heading south. With tourist season over in the north very few motor homes are out on the road. This is good since this is now ADOT (Alaska Department of Transportation) orange cone, fix the roads season. Alaska uses a lot of oil and asphalt to patch the roads… in fact with all the construction zones we drove through today the Rig is getting an free undercoating thanks to ADOT.

We might have actually waved good bye to Mary and James from the ferry as we drove past the rest stop they were having lunch at. 663,300 sq miles and we keep running into our same two friends.

motorcylists Beaver Creek alaskaTok, Alaska is where you drive through if you are coming from or going to anywhere between Alaska and Canada. And Tok is were we caught up with another friend from the ferry. Traveling to university in Fairbanks on a student visa, it appears that it is important you have the right visa… Unfortunately homeland security back at the previous board gave him the wrong type of visa stamp. We hear you really get to know the scenery when you drive between the boarder and Tok several times in a single day to straighten out their mess. At least the visa is all good now.

Today when we pulled up to the US Boarder to get back into Alaska we were ready for Dad to come up with an alert. Sure enough that is exactly what happened. When we laughed and told the officer that Dad came up most wanted twice now, the homeland security guy quickly recognized that the middle name was different and told us he would fix that. I’m not sure what “fix that” means, but I’m sure Dad will find out when we cross over the board again in a few days. Mary and James beat us to the board and just left as we were waved to them both… again.

Harley riders used to mean tough bad ass biker gangs… now they are ex-CEOs and grandmas. They still look bad ass in leathers though. These guys are just one of the many groups we’ve run into on this adventure. Like us they are pursuing their passion for the open road on their own terms.

I knew the day was going to be another great one when grabbing coffee I run into two young women who lead adventure tours out of Anchorage. They are on their way to Utah with all their tents, rafts and equipment in order to set up for the winter season down south. Before leaving they wanted a couple of photos so they could tell their friends in Utah about us. I hope Hula Betty isn’t jealous, she was back at the hotel with Dad.

While Dad closed out the hotel bill and said good bye to Mary and James I ran down to get some gas. We met Mary and James at a rest stop the other day and have been passing each other on the road and showing up at the same places ever since. They are retired and driving from Portland Or. to Anchorage and back.

Cooper: Any friend of John’s… Glad to have you’re along with us on this adventure. Keep the comments coming and start planning, your 3 year old will be 12, 27 and then 44 before you know it.

John: Thanks for the notes.

Mary: thanks for the encouragement.

Joyce: He was a Kodiac looking fellow about 19 feet tall when he came rambling over the hill expecting me to do one of two thing: flip or fly I didn’t do either it hung him up… He started sniffing around my body trying smell fear; but he aint gonna smell no fear; it hung him up… being charitable and cautious, well hell I approached him and said I want you to be my buddy… buddy bear. I forgot what a great song that is… Thanks for sticking with us on this Jimmy Buffet, Caribbean rock and roll, Zen based roller coaster road trip. Your links from Trauma: The Drama will over load our service if all your reads follow your advice and take a look at us. Thanks for the plug.

alaska brown bear fishing

Day 5: I Just Have to Out Run Dad

alaska brown bear fishing in riverStart: Haines, Alaska
Finish: Beaver Creak, Yukon
Miles traveled today: 350
Miles total: 1316
Grizzlies: 2
Eagles: 2
Salmon: lots

We said good bye to our friends on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry and spent the night in Haines Alaska. In the early morning we decided to go down to the bay and fish the incoming tide for Chum Salmon. We were not the only ones who had that idea. I yelled, “Dad, you may want to avoid the bear.” Dad said “WHAT BEAR!” I don’t have a telephoto lenses… That grizzly was about |——-that———–| far away. As the old joke goes, I don’t have to out run the bear, I just have to out run Dad.

salmon fishing haines alaskaTwo different grizzlies poked around and kept us out of the water for a while. It was great watching them fish and move about the rocks in the river. They did decide to wonder off for a bit.

While the grizzlies were gone… the fishing was great. I hooked about a two dozen salmon and landed eight. The winning combination was anything pink on a dead drift. The fish were in the two to four pound range and put up a good fight. Dad did not fish but he did get a chance to try out his bug gear, stay on bear watch and man the camera. Dad also managed to spot a couple more bald eagles doing a little fishing of their own. After about an hour one of the grizzlies wondered back up to our location. The grizzly’s arrival was our cue to get back on the road.

chum salmon caught haines alaskaToday we started in Alaska, drover through British Columbia and entered the Yukon Territory. The character of the road has also changed. What started out as smooth well maintained pavement has transitioned to potholes and sections of gravel. The cars are becoming few are far between… so are the gas stations and mini-marts. Beaver Creek is considered a big town in the Yukon, population: 150 and one Internet connection. I’m sitting in the bar putting this entry together at 12:30 a.m. I have to beat last call if I’m going to get this out tonight.

Grizzly bears, fishing, the open road… How could this day get any better? How about we Blow something up!

arctic dirt roadWe came upon the road construction in the Yukon Territory around 4:00 p.m. and were told we would have to wait for about an hour. At that point we jumped out… stretched a little and started a conversation with the flag guys… As we started chatting they told us the crew was blowing up the overhanging corner of the old highway… that was all we needed to hear as we grabbed the camera and got set up. They gave us a one minute warning and than WOW. The rock was flying a good second or two before we heard the report from the charge. The clean up took a while but it was worth the wait to see rock fly.

demolition of arctic dirt roadWith the bear watching, fishing, road construction and loosing an hour as we shifted from Alaska time back to Yukon time, we were still on the road at 9:00 p.m. but as the pictures show we are clearly making our way north and the sun is still high in the sky late into the night. In fact the sun finally set around 11:30 p.m.

As you recall Toyota’s Open Road Blog was going to mention our adventure. Today Bruce C. Ertmann wrote about our Arctic adventure and added us to the blogroll. Bruce said some really cool things… you need to take a look and leave a comment so he knows you like his kind words. We’ve had the Open Road Blog on our list for a while since Toyota supports our views on diversity and makes a great rig. Keep an eye on the Open Road Blog for video of our trips start.demolition arctic dirt road

Jim: The Roads in the Yukon are rough and not so Harley friendly. We did run in to a group of about six riders dining at our hotel in Beaver Creak. They seemed very glad to be off the road for the night. We can do the Baja. Make a caravan out of it… a string of rigs moving south to the sun and sand. When we get back we’ll start planning the next last great road trip… Friends conquering the the Baja

Jon: Yes Hula Betty is absent from the pictures. She was really upset by the bear. She should be fine after a good night’s sleep.

toyota fj cruiser arctic circle rest stopCarla: Thanks for the comments… Knowing you guys are out there following along and enjoying our stories is making this an even better adventure for us. Day 3 somehow fell off the map… it is back and you can see it below.

Juan: Glad to hear from you. This is the real thing and not a cyber road trip from my couch. The pictures don’t lie.

woman alaksa ferry passanger

Day 4:Waterway Not Information Highway

forest ranger on alaska marine highway ferryStart: Somewhere on the high seas
Finish: Haines
Miles traveled today: 0
Miles total
Whales: 10
Eagles: 2

The lack of Internet connections has been frustrating. I seem to spend all my time hoping to catch a WiFi connection as we pass little fishing villages and ports. The AT&T GSM is sketchy at best and the biggest racket in port is the hot spot connections where for a dollar a minute you can use their connections which I’m sure has all the speed of a 300 baud dial-up connection.

When you’re on a boat you run into the same people over and over and over… and eventually you can get everyone to tell you their stories. One of our new friends is Lisa who is traveling for a month with a tour group seeing the US and Canada. She is a little out of place with her group since they are all retired and twice her age. While not retired, Lisa has one of the more tranquil jobs you can imagine. She works in a monastery helping out an order of Carmelite Nuns. It also turns out that Lisa had seen us on the Internet a couple of weeks ago and recognized the rig when we pulled up in Prince Rupert. She was even telling folks on her tour about our adventure.

On board a ferry you become very adaptive and you appreciate how different everyone is. Take last night for instance; around midnight while putting together day 3’s story, the slow paced voyage took on a new attitude. On the ferry there is a lounge room with recliner chairs, much like a airplane only wider and room to move around between the isles and stretch out. This is an area where you can relax and those who did not get a cabin can sleep. As I sat there recalling the day’s events, a few folks were bedding down as we pulled into the port of Ketchikan, Alaska. You really don’t appreciate the peace and quiet until it is gone… and that is exactly what happened when the Hope football team as well as the Juneau girls and boys swim team showed up with their blankets, pillows and teenage hormones. About 60 high school kids joined us on journey.

You have to give these kids credit though, when they go to a meet or play an away game they really go. The football team will play two games and be away from home for six days on this road trip. So while we were enjoying the sights, many of them were having to crack the books now that school is started.

As for Dad and me, Dad seems to be the stronger of us. Today, I had to get some time in the rack catching up on my sleep, while Dad was out and about reading, seeing pods of whales, icebergs and advancing glaciers. Dad continues to read his financial books. I seem to benefit the most from his reading… after he digests the savings and tax impacts I get to hear how it can be used practically for my situation. Like most good financial information, you wont get rich over night, but you will build a solid portfolio that is working for you. The information Dad is helping me understand is all about solid foundation.woman ferry passager

Who is who. Of the women’s photos posted here, who is Lisa from Louisiana, who is Victoria traveling to Petersburg, Alaska and who is our Forest Ranger from Oregon State?

Shelia: the Harley riders are Bob and Deb. A couple of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Should we substitute Jim and Shelia on the next Harley story?

Mom: We are having a great time… Wasn’t the Last Great Road Trip T-shirt enough? Everyone wants something… Were were you when we asked who would come on the adventure?

Joyce: Whew thought we lost you… We knew you were reading the BLOG… we could see your lips moving.

Chris: thanks for the email

alaska marine highway staging area

Day 3: The Waiting Place

alaska marine highway prince rupert terminal Start: Prince Rupert
Finish: Somewhere on the high seas
Miles traveled today: .8
Miles total: 968
Whales: 2

Today was all about hurry-up and wait… Since we arrived in Prince Rupert last night we only had to travel a few blocks to the edge of town in order to catch the ferry. The Alaska Marine Highway ferry system runs boats up and down the coast all year round. They have this down to a fine art… and the process goes: Have everyone arrive four hours early, check them in so you can move everyone from one line to the next waiting place. After an appropriate amount of time open the gates to give everyone a false sense of hope. After another 30 minutes have a customs officer show up, SLOWLY move everyone, one-at-a-time through customs and through the gates into one of eight different lines depending on their final destination. Finally four hours after you start the process (that is eight when you add int the get her early time) and just prior to everyone in line forming a rabid, lynch crazed mob, load them on board the ferry.

We did run into one small snag. Apparently Dad shares his name with a known home land security risk. That little coincident allowed us to enjoy a short side trip to the “your going to receive a full body-cavity strip search waiting place”. Luckily when the photos came back and Dad was cleared allowing us to continue through the lines.

While we spent the day in the “Waiting Place” the rig continues to be a great conversation starter and usually puts us at the front of the line. If you’re going to be in a line, at least be in the front of the line.

Customs line prince rupert ferry terminalThe rainbow at the end of our Waiting Place was the people we met. When everyone is trapped in line there is a lot of time to chat. We met a father and daughter driving from Seattle to Anchorage. She is a nurse moving up to a new life in Alaska. A couple on their Harley told us how they were heading back to White Horse. He was coming off a five week road trip with his brother through the California, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Washington. His wife joined him in Vancouver for the last leg back home. And than there was Joe and Margarita. He spent 15 years in Alaska before marring Margarita and moving to California. After a couple of summer trips to Alaska , Joe convinced Margarita to take on the Juneau winter. With his wife, two trucks, one u-haul trailer and three dogs, Joe is going home.

Once on the boat we settled into our cabin. Spacious does does not begin to describe the cabin… Thimble sized more accurately describes the room. Bunk beds, one chair, three coat hangers and a shower room. I call it a shower room because when you turn on the shower on you have just enough room to turn around and water goes all over the toilet and sink.

I thought about rocking off for the bottom bunk but Dad made it pretty clear that the lower bunk was all his. We’re spending most of the time out in the other parts of the boat. They have a dining room, a TV Lounge where they play movies, a forward lounge for whale watching and a bar. Tonight will be the only real sleep we get in the room. Tomorrow at Midnight we disembark in Haines, Alaska. We are not sure if we will drive straight away or locate a room for a few hours sleep. We’ll just see how we feel and let you know.

Loretta: keep an eye out, we’ll get a group shot, Dad, me and Hula Betty… I’m not sure we can have a last great road trip shirt that will fit Hula Betty though.

Chad: not a chance in H$@!

Ken & Flo thanks for the note. Maybe I can listen to the book when we get back.

Maura: OOOOoooopps at least I did not loose the ferry pass and parking permit… they are right here with us… nice and secure. We would mail them back but I’m not up for spending $45 on FedEx overnight double rush priority first class delivery to save $10… IOU a new ferry pass.

Mary: did this give you your Dad fix.

fj cruiser at the geographical center of britsh columbia canada

Day 2: When It Rains

worlds largest stealhead rod and realStart: Prince George, BC. Canada
Finish: Prince Rupert, BC. Canada “Where Canada’s Wilderness Begins”
Miles today: 415
Total Trip Miles: 960
Bears: 1
Moose: 1
Elk: 3
Deer: 4

Yesterday’s drive saw blue sky and 83 degree temperatures. Today the high hit 56 and rain filled the day. The scenery also changed from rolling hills, scrub brush and canyons to coastal mountains, fur forests, and low hanging clouds. The drive was great. While it was wet out side we stayed comfortable and dry in the rig as we put the miles behind us. Shifting from the main British Columbia highway to a more rural one meant much less traffic and more wild life spotting… You can see the tally.

We are settling into a groove. On the road I drive. Dad naps, navigates and keeps track the next dot on the map. Than at night… we pick out a hotel and restaurant, settle in and Dad downloads all his financial reports while I put the rig to bed. Yes that is right… Hotel!
No it is not the four seasons but we are enjoying crisp sheets and little mints on the pillows. Well deserved little mints after 10 plus hours on the road.

Today we discovered two very important things. One, Dad is the center of the world… well at least he is located in the geographic center of British Columbia. And “B” Dad and the Rig are starting to look a lot alike dressing in all blue.

In Houston, BC, not Texas, stay with the program, we found the worlds largest fly fishing rod and real. And while they would not let us use it, we were able to watch a few guys fish the Skeena river. One guy just set the hook and the fight was on.

fly fisherman with stealhead onSo what do you do if you roll into a strange town and need some help. That was us in Smithers, BC needing someone to check out our CB Radio. We immediately looked for the nearest Toyota Dealer and in Smithers that is Glacier Toyota. We were greeted by Teresa, a Product Adviser who after hearing our need immediately pulled out her Rolodex and came up with a guy who could help. She even verified he was at his shop on Friday’s but currently on a lunch break. On the way out we took a quick look at the FJ Cruisers in their lot, any excuse to see the other rigs. Turns out the CB radio is fine and we were back on the road.

Prince Rupert is the end of the road… Literally! there is one way in by road and one way out by sea. Tomorrow we leave by sea. This will begin the Alaskan Marine Highway portion of our road trip. We have a two person room to crash in when we are looking for a quiet place to catch a few Zzzzz. Can’t wait to see who me meet on the boat. I’m sure there are a number of folks who like us had to change over from Bellingham and will share their story with us.

So as I put this story together recalling the days events and listening to Dad suck the paint off the walls with his snoring, I know this adventure is going well. My Dad and I are talking about everything and nothing at all throughout the day as the miles go by.

Thank you to everyone for leaving comments on the website. Knowing everyone is out there reading along and enjoying our adventure makes it even that much better.

Mary: Dad loves it… he is up, packed and ready to hit the road before I’ve had my first cup of coffee and found my socks.

Shelia: The rig is great. Everyone… And I mean everyone stairs at it… Kids and adults go out of their way to tell us how much they like it.

John: Souvenirs? What could we possibly get the guy who has everything… including the love of his family. Ok how about moose turd golf balls?

Greg: We’ll look for the video Monday or Tuesday on Toyota Open Road Blog

Mom: We don’t need no stinking cash… They take Master Card… but not AMX or Visa.

Barbie: How is this post… Is it what you were looking for?

fj cruiser 0 dark thrity

Day 1: Getting Behind the Wheel

fj cruiser leaving 0 dark thrityStart Poulsbo, WA. USA
Finish Prince George, BC. Canada
Miles today: 538
Total Trip Miles: 538

Today we left the comfort of our home and took to the open road. Eager to get started we left the house at O-dark thirty and headed to Kingston to catch the Washington state ferry to Edmonds where Greg from Toyota was waiting to video tape the start of our trip.

washington state ferry terminal workerOddly enough as Christine informed us, the Washington state ferry system will allow you bring two gas cans on board. They will not let you bring four empty gas cans on board. A quick drive around the block and two gas cans thrown in the back seat, a look the other way by Christine and we were on our way again. Christine even let us jump into the car pool lane so we could be first on and first off the boat. It is great how everyone continues to help make this a great trip.

Greg, Toyota’s man behind the blog, caught up with us in Edmonds. Greg Brummer, known as Mr. Helpful, runs PlanetFeedback and has coached some of the best bloggers on the Internet. Greg was great! We talked, he video taped and we laughed… We laughed a lot, compared quick road trip notes and before we knew it, it was time to head out. Keep an eye out for Toyota’s video of Last Great Road Trip to appear on Toyota Open Road Blog soon.

Google maps is cool, Google world is very cool, Google directions… NOT so great. After a number of debates about the interpretation of Google’s instructions at various intersections and highway interchanges, we decided to scrap Google directions and go to the old gazette maps and compass. We did not look back even once.

Although the largest number of miles driven today where in Canada, we are still getting used to a few things. For example: highway signs tell you “100 mile lodge house” in 75 kilometers. You purchase gas by the liter and it cost 94 cents and you have to use the Canadian dollar. In order to calculate cost of miles per gallon you need a degree in abstract algebra and that is too much thinking for the driver. We are saving all the receipts and will figure it out later. It was cool though driving 100 on the long straight away. Did we mention speed limits are in Kilometers per hr. Go metric or go home.

Overall a great first day. We covered a lot of ground. Met a few new friends and are getting lots of second looks as we drive the open road. We are becoming internationally famous.