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Drive to Alaska

by Barbara K. Almy (1233-4668-1323)

Following is the continuation from newsletter No. 111 (July 2002) of the journal that Barbara wrote on her drive to Alaska in 1999. (See introduction in Newsletter 105.)

6-24-99*Day 28*490 miles*12 hours 36 min.

We left Watson Lake at 7:26 AM. At 8:19 we saw a cow moose and calf. Unfortunately I had my shades on and couldn't focus my camera in time to get a picture before they disappeared into the brush. Mom's camera was still in it's case, plus she was in the back seat and so had limited vision. We stopped for more scenic pictures along the way.

We had about a fifteen-minute delay waiting for a pilot car to take us through a resurfacing project. I got out of the car for a smoke and ended up talking to a couple from Vancouver Island, BC who were intentionally headed to Stewart/Hyder! I warned them about The Sealaska Inn. It turned out that they had stayed at The Gateway Motel in Watson Lake the same night we did.

I picked up a shiny piece of rock from the riverbed at the Cottonwood rest stop. We think it might be gold. It really should have been Mom who found it!!

We got to Bell II where we thought we could stay in their cabins, but they were all booked up.

We went on to Mezidian Junction and ate dinner at Sandy's Place. I then drove 125 more miles to New Hazelton. We got very nice, clean rooms at the Bulkley Valley Motel for $39 and $49 (Can.). We arrived at 8:00 PM. Even though it was a 12 hour day it was a leisurely drive, broken up by the picture, rest and dinner stops. It was not as exhausting to us all as the day on the way up that we ended up in Hyder

6-25-99*Day 29*273 miles*7hours 25 minutes

Nothing opens in New Hazelton until 8:00 AM.. We were on the road at 7:44. We stopped for breakfast in Smithers, BC at the Aspen Inn. It was really good and had huge portions. Dad couldn't even finish his!

I saw one more black bear.

We had several construction delays for a total of about 30 minutes. We got into Prince George about 3:00 PM. The Ramada Inn has the only casino in town. We checked in (rooms $73) and played for a while. Mom ran through her allotment of money.

We then went up to their room for a drink and then walked to The Keg for dinner. I have never eaten at one before. It was all very good. I had leftovers so I took them back to the cooler in the car. Mom and Dad went back into the casino. They were ready to leave by the time I got there. I hit 15 X 30 coins for 450 quarters and $80 on a dollar machine. So for the two gambling establishments right now I'm only down $5.

During the drive the subject of my wonderful cookies came up. Mom thinks I should enter the Pillsbury Bake Off. We also talked about adding different flavors like almond or chocolate instead of, or in addition to, vanilla.

6-26-99*Day 30*329 miles*8 hours 10 min.

We left Prince George at 8:04 AM intending to stop for breakfast and some more gambling in Quesnel (pronounced Quinell.) Breakfast did get taken care of. We were there from 9:30 to 10:45 and the casino doesn't open until noon and the Keno parlor until noon-thirty. We expected that Williams Lake (since its bigger than Quesnel) would also have a casino.

We stopped at the visitor center in Williams Lake where we learned that Quesnel or Kamloops are the nearest gambling establishments. Mom and I convinced Dad that a night spent in Kamloops is as good as a night spent in Cache Creek! Which was our original intent. It also would be a new stretch of road for all of us.

We arrived at The Riverland Motel at 4:15 PM. It's about ten or twelve blocks from the casino. It's on the Thompson River. Mom and Dad have a view of the river but I don't. The cost is $65 versus $85 to $115 for more centrally located motels. The rooms are very nice, with a small fridge, hair dryer and coffee maker. A continental breakfast between 6:30 and 9:30 AM is included in the room price.

We had dinner in Mom and Dad's room consisting of the last of the reindeer sausage, cottage cheese, pineapple slices and celery. We then went to The Stockman's Hotel/Casino. We got there about 7:00 PM. We only had to pay $2.00 for four hours of parking. Beforehand we went to a cash machine to get a better exchange rate of $1.423 rather than $1.25 at the hotel.

Mom went through her allotment rather quickly, but Dad held his own. About 9:00 PM Mom came by and suggested that if I wanted to continue to play that I drive them back to the motel and then come back. I had her go ask about "in and out" privileges for the parking lot. The woman said that because the lot is so small that there was a good chance that I wouldn't find a spot anyway. Not only did I find a spot; I got the same one!!

It took me about an hour to go through the rest of the $85.00 I had allowed myself for the night (I wanted to have some Canadian $$ left.) I gassed the car, cleaned all the windows including the mirrors and the doorjamb on the driver's side that was caked with mud from the unpaved miles on the Cassiar highway. I got back to my room about 10.30 PM and readied for our **LAST** day on the road. What a trip it's been!

To be continued.

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