On Our Way Home to
North Niksiki, Alaska!
October 28, 29, 30, 31
After following the big gravel truck through Grande Prairie and almost going home with him before I realized we were supposed to go right and he was turning left into a gravel pit. We got back on track turning right and started out of town to Dawson Creek. Bob is a steady driver and never goes more than 60 and most of the time at 55 mph. I am amazed at the miles we travel in a day!!
We stayed at Dawson Creek that night and continued on to Fort St. John the next morning in rain and snow which Bob calls “snrain.” We came upon two trucks in the ditch at mile 73. Slow going with the snow, rain and the wind. Fortunately there was no traffic. Some how, out of the blue we started following a snow plow, plowing snow and spreading gravel. We stopped at Pink Mountain Gas Station. We gassed up and had two cups of good coffee while I petted the cute, black friendly cat. We really missed our kitties. They were in good hands with Nikki Turnbull and Cathy Fenton looking in on them and making sure they were fed.
Roads were snow packed, sanded. It was windy and snowed all the way to Watson Lake. We were going to stop at Laird River Lodge. We were passed it before we realized we could have stopped. Bob said that’s OK, we have another hour of daylight. We stopped at little dump of a place to get $20 worth of gas and drove in the snowing dark, to Watson Lake at dark, dark 8:30. It was October 28th, 2000.
We slept with the roar of diesel trucks running all night, as the tired drivers slept. Woke up hungry and had a fast breakfast, drank cups and cups of coffee and filled our thermos. Bob said we should be in Beaver Creek tonight at the border of Alaska.
Drove over the Continental Divide and crossed the Rancheria River about 5 times in different spots. We were heading home! And every once in a while Bobs conversation consisted of “Boy! I will be so glad when we get home!” He had driving the whole trip and my offer of “let me drive” fell upon deaf ears.
The road into Haines Junction was dry with no traffic. It was 4 o’clock. Sunday October 29th, as we drove on through. We saw the St. Elias Mountains with the snow glistening on the tops of the peaks.
Coming down the rocky-gravel-drit road that they were rebuilding when we left, there seemed to be no improvement, as it was still under construction! Way up ahead we say a dark patch in the torn-up road. I said must be a bear, maybe a moose. Bob said maybe a Bison. A little closer to the dark spot, we made out a bicycle being pushed by a 20 some year old male. He had a back pack on and a small duffle bag on his bike. We had absolutely no room for him or his bike and he was not looking like he needed a ride. We both wondered what he was doing out in the “middle of no where!” So we drove on past. I still wish we would have stopped to see if he was OK and where he was going and what in the world he was doing out here in “no-where land.”
We drove into Beaver Creek Sunday night the 29th at 7. We rented a motel room from the cook in the lodge who directed us to the back of the building at room 1202. It was an Atco Trailer (a utility trailer used by many oil companies in Alaska) fixed up to be a very nicely. Clean but felt like living in a tin can. AND it was cold!
We both woke up at 2 “our time” All the different time changes messed up our sleep patterns. We were ready to travel but upon inspection of the gas station, a sign said open at 5. So we waited until 7 “our time” only to find out they opened at 6 “their time.” We finally got gas with a credit card and crossed the border into Alaska at 8 “our time.”
We stopped in Tok, ALASKA for breakfast at the big cafe-restaurant Fast Freddy’s. Nice clean place, full of truckers and travelers. We had a good American breakfast and great coffee. Filled our thermos and went on down the road to home.
Our drive through Glenallen and an even longer drive to Sutton was not without events. We planned on getting gas at Eureka, but they were closed. We gassed up at Sutton after we passes through rain, wind blowing off the glacier and the Matanuska river. At times the wind was so terrible that it blew sand and water off the river onto the travelers, that were soon piled up because of construction. The road was full of large rocks and piles of dirt and lots of pot holes. Also we waited patiently at the intermitten road blocks, detours and long waiting periods of long one lane traffic.
That road from Glenallen to Palmer seemed never ending. At one point Bob looked down at the gas gauge, saying “ I hope I do not have to hitch hike to Palmer for gas because we are driving on fumes!” We saw the most blessed sight outside of Sutton, a little blue and white gas station in the middle of no where on the banks of the Matanuska River.
We drove in behind long lines of cars and trucks and waited our turn at the gas pump. We got exactly 20.34 gallons of gas and our tank held 21. We had driven 378 mile on the tank of gas we got in Beaver Creek. Talk about coming in on a wing and a prayer and fumes, that was us! The lady next to us at the gas pump said the same thing! Thank you God, for the little gas station in the middle of NO-Where, Alaska. After breathing a big sigh of relief we told each other that was the very worst part of our trip!
We skirted Anchorage via Muldoon to Potters Marsh where we saw “stupid people” (Bobs words) skating in and out of the marsh water-ice, taking the place of the ducks and birds that lived there all summer.
We got into snow and rain at Turnagain Pass and a headlight went. As soon as we got over the pass, the road was nice, but icy in spots. We never minded and had big grins on our face because we were almost home! Driving into Sterling about 60 miles from home, we drove even slower at 20-30 mph as it was slicker – than slick.
We drove into our drive way at 7:30. October 31, Halloween eve. Bob moved the big snow plow that we had parked across our road. I scooted over into the drivers seat and drove down into our yard. Bob was spittin’ mad! He had driven 9.999 miles and I drove the car into the yard and the speedometer turned 10,000 miles. He is still peeved at me!
Oh My! It’s was so good to be home! Our kitties greeted us and we found everything as we had left it, 60 days earlier. We slept in our own bed! I had a hard time sleeping. I felt like I was still riding in a car. The next day I called an made an appointment for the headaches that plagued me during the trip. Results were severe sinus infection and arthritis with inflammation in my neck. I was worried it was a tumor. When I told Bob he did not find anything – he said “well, I know that!” I said , “Smarty! I mean a tumor!” I stopped and bought me a new camera. I had lost two cameras on this trip!
The next day I spent washing our traveling clothes and unpacking and putting things away. I dumped my large travel bag with all my travel goodies in it. In the bottom of the black lined bag I found two camera’s! I took the recently purchased camera ,still in the package, back for a refund. I missed a lot of opportunities to take pictures!!
So this is the end of our trip that we will never forget. We talk about it from time to time and recall all the nice relatives, great friends and new friends we encountered along the way. But most of all we talk about the wonderful things we saw on our 10,000 mile trip. That was 16 years ago and we recall with even greater fondness. Memories are what you make it. Make some of you own!
The series is written by a 44 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook.
She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.
Grannie Annie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cookbooks make great gifts!
The “Grannie Annie” Cook Book Series includes: “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ on the Woodstove”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters”; and “Grannie Annie’s Eat Dessert First.” They are available at M & M Market in Nikiski.