Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 1 – Palmer, Alaska to Beaver Creek, Yukon

Today was the first day on the road. My father is accompanying me until we reach Portland. From there he will fly back home to Alaska and I will continue on to Jackson.

[ Ready to roll ]

We drove 400 miles today to Beaver Creek, Yukon. Beaver Creek is pretty much a town consisting of a motel/gas station, and what some people might call a restaurant. The current temperature is -10 F.

[ Alaska Highway 1 ]

We woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow in Palmer. After some final packing, we filled up on gas and started down Alaska Highway 1 East. The first part of the trip consisted of endless hills and curvy sections. I found that the Mercedes lacks major kick on the uphills, but she keeps it moving slow and steady.

[ The Mercedes ]

Once we left Palmer, we saw no other East bound traffic for the next 220 miles when only a single Jeep approached us from behind and passed us. The second and last car we saw came up from behind after another 50 miles. We saw a bald eagle and passed the occasional oncoming vehicle, but otherwise we were completely alone.

[ Frost Heaves - The road looked like waves]

My father really impressed me today. Not only did he create and name a playlist on itunes, but he transferred it on to his ipod. It wasn’t until half an hour later that we realized that he also learned how to delete all the music except for his 8-song playlist.

[ Cruisin' ]

Among the beautiful rivers, mountains, and glaciers, there were many strange sights along the drive. An old motor home in the bushes painted into a mural…a collection of old tractors…a family walking along the side of the highway with rifles hunting ptarmigans. There were numerous houses and cabins along the road that where hundreds of miles from anywhere. What do these people do?

[ The Copper River ]

We stopped in Glenallen to fill up on Diesel. My father asked the guy in the gas station where to get lunch. He said everyone eats at the place next door. The menu had a bunch of photos of the family that owns the place and the guy from the gas station was one of them. We questioned whether it was really the place that “everybody” eats at.

The sun was low in the sky all day and was setting around 3:30PM. The last few hours of the drive were in the dark. We made a second stop in Tok to top off the tank and check the oil. It was so cold that the oil had to be squeezed out of the bottle.

Soon after crossing the Canadian border, we came to Beaver Creek, the first town in Canada. We are now in a new time zone, one hour ahead of Alaska. We ate dinner at the classic Buckshot Betty’s restaurant. There were three tables. I ordered lasagna…I was served a “burger steak” which turned out to be a hamburger patty with gravy. Fine dining at it’s best…absolutely delicious. The hotel was also top-notch, as seen in the photos.

[ My father loved this sign ]

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