So far, places:
- Anchorage (Hotel 360 and the giant soaking tub, Honey’s health certificate for crossing the border, 100k maintenance on the Focus, filling up at my favorite coffee shops)
- Palmer (the agricultural center of Alaska, and unexpectedly beautiful. I’d never been, but I’ll go again.)
- Chickaloon (like a little town out of the Wild West, with the one room post office/general store.)
- Tok (passthrough to Chitina; nexus town between Valdez, Anchorage, and Fairbanks; and gateway to a whole lot of wilderness adventure.) All I know is the gas station. I fill up, I drive on.
- Canadian Border (Got snapped at by the border guard, and N temporarily imbued with secondhand authority, for reading while the guard asked N a ridiculously long list of questions. Is reading nefarious?)
- Overnight at a pullout. In case anyone wonders if a Ford Focus can sleep two full-size adults and a big old dog in comfort…it can. Unbelievable but true.
- Beaver Creek (i want to eat something. No, Turtle, you are super fluffy. )
- Destruction Bay (i want to eat something. No, Turtle, you are super fluffy.)
- Haines Junction (i.e, the intrinsic worth of this little stop is based on the fact that if you turn right (west), you go to Haines, if you turn left (east) you go to Whitehorse. This time through, we see a little ‘natural’ grocery shop. It is a wonder for such a small town and I wander through each aisle three-four times while N impatiently waits by the cash register with his latest fruit leather purchase in hand, and Honey loafs in the snow with the sun shining on her fur.)
- Whitehorse (You know what I think. Also, I want to eat something. No, Turtle, you are super fluffy.)
- Marsh Lake (I feel a little guilty at how little fuel our Focus consumes. Driving a bit slower for the ice yields ridiculously good fuel consumption. )
- Johnson’s Crossing (Still cruising.)
- Watson Lake (Last stop to fill up on gas before Liard. We top off, so we can wimp out and turn the car on if I get cold.)
By the way, if you think the sky is big and clear and humbling a few miles from the Alcan border, try between Watson Lake and Liard, on a night when the sky is crystal clear and the temperature is perceptibly dropping, “-10, -12, -14, -15, -17.” We’ve both slept out in colder than -17 Fahrenheit, and the car is a hell of a lot warmer than a snow cave (don’t let anyone lie and tell you different), but that’s still cold. I don’t know what it is about these kinds of nights–ring a bell and you’d swear someone on the ISS is cocking an ear. Look up, and feel the ground dropping away. Soon you’ll be floating right up there. No drugs involved. Hello, Milky Way.
We made sure to camp just a few hours shy of our destination, so the next day’s short drive yielded an early “Hell yeah! Liard!”
“Oh, crap, a school bus….”