Saturday, August 7, 2010



Morning came bright and early in Junction 37, Yukon Territory, Canada.  The decision had been made that we would be going through the smoke/fire region of the Cassiar Highway, Junction 37 Road.  The road was officially closed but a pilot car was leading a group of vehicles through the area a couple times a day if things remained stable.  There was always the chance that the wind would change direction or something else would change the “safety” situation.

So we were all to be ready to leave the park before 7AM to caravan to Highway 37 and await the pilot car.  It was not supposed to come before 9AM but we needed to get in line as a group and wait. That meant I had to be up by 5:30????  Oh well, you do what you have to do.  LOL.  We were chosen to bring up the rear --- now you would think that was because we are always last anyway??  But, Alex, the wagon master (previously the number 2, now promoted to number 1, since the original #1 left with engine trouble a week ago!!)  said that was not the reason --- it was because our site was in the back where we could make sure everyone else was in line.  Now the reason our site was in the back was because we were the last ones in the night before.  LOL.

Anyway, everything went very smoothly and we were in line by 7AM, parked and waiting.  Everyone parked and got out to walk around, visit and witness the sight.  It was incredible to see all the motor homes, trucks and other vehicles just sitting there waiting.  There was always the chance that we would not make it through.  As Bill stated some people left the group and went home another route rather than go through the fire/smoke area.  Bill had considered that but I’m glad he chose to stay with the group.  One of our very hospitable and generous ladies, Ginny, opened up the slide of their beautiful Class A Diesel Pusher and cooked pancakes and bacon for everyone.  It was pretty funny, everyone standing around outside their rig eating breakfast.  She’s always planning a get together --- she’s the party girl of the group.

Finally at 9:45 the pilot car arrived and we started through.  The smoke was not as bad as we had feared (thoughts of ServPro went through my head to get the smoke out of the motorhome!) but we kept the vents and the windows tightly closed (okay, I did open the window once to try and get a good picture!!).  It was sad to see how much damage there was from the fire that had started from lightning.  The fire had burned right up to the road and to any streams, lakes or ponds in the area and was still smoldering.  Although it was sad to see the blackened areas of the forest we know that by next spring there will be new green shoots of trees coming up surrounded by the beautiful fireweed.  God is in control, his world continues to flourish just as our lives do after tragedies, as we continue to love and serve Him.

Some pictures of the fire when it was active.  It is still smoldering.

It took us 1-1/2 hours to get through the area, the pilot car turned around to lead the group there to the side we had started from.

When we were on our own Bill needed a break.  We made another stop or two for photo ops and then stopped at Jade City, where they claim 92% of the world’s Jade comes from.  I thought that would be China??  They had a huge selection of Jade jewelry and decorative objects that were beautiful.  They even had jade dice (at $10 a piece, that would be $60 for a “Farkle” set.  Bill purchased my very first pieces of Jade --- for my birthday, which was almost a month ago but still continues in his mind!! (not complaining mind you!). 

On to camp for a 5PM briefing ---- we pulled in at 4:55, we made it!!  This was our last briefing, we would only be traveling with the group one more time.  Hard to believe how fast the time has gone, how much we have seen and experienced and how blessed we have been to have this time!  Alex & Renie,  newly promoted wagon masters, were doing a great job.  This was their first ever caravan trip as wagon masters, they were in training and two weeks before the end of the trip they find themselves in charge.  They have been in constant contact with Sam & Sue (the #1’s) and the office of “Tracks to Adventures” but they still had the “nerve wracking” job of getting us all through the smoke/fire.  They had lost several rigs who decided to leave and go their own direction and had dealt with a lot of rescheduling and paperwork but we are all proud of them and appreciate them very much!  They will need a vacation at the end of this trip.

Alex & Renie -- our newly promoted wagon masters.  Last Briefing -- to Stewart and then the trip ends.

It was George’s birthday so Joan was planning on a little party --- cake and games.  She had picked up the ingredients and her and I both baked one of the “Better than anything cakes”.  She was planning games, which made Bill hope for rain.   It ended up being rather fun --- she had written down different people, places and things which we had encountered on our trip --- one was placed on each person’s back and the goal was to ask “yes and no” questions to figure out who/what you were.  I was “Denali” and Bill was “Sign Forest”.  The next game was Pictionary with the same type of things to draw for your team.  It ended up being crazy, we were all laughing really hard and then Bill got his wish and it started to rain but good.  Party over – Happy Birthday George!” and off to our rigs.  An hour or so later George and Joan came over for a visit --- we had a great evening, had a little “DVD” time and off to bed.

When Joan & George stopped by it had almost stopped raining and we had a beautiful rainbow!!

When they left they noticed the sky had pink clouds in the darkness.  We tried to capture this --- but it was fading by the time I had the camera ready.  Pretty cool though, huh?

Our last drive with the group is  tomorrow morning to Stewart, British Columbia on the border of Hyder, Alaska, 262 miles to go.  2 nights in Stewart and then our “Alaska Adventure” caravan trip is over.  We are getting a little sad about that.

Quitting The Trip

Sometimes people start a trip like this and are unable to finish it.  It happened to Kathy and I in 2006.  We had to leave and race home because my sister Emily was deathly ill.

We’ve had some drop outs on this trip.  As of tomorrow morning, we’ll be down to 14 rigs from the original 20 that started.  A little more amazing is the fact that one of our drop-outs is . . . (drum roll please) . . . our wagon master!  Yes, our leader’s engine “broke” and he needs a major overhaul.  He’ll be stuck up here for six weeks while they order parts and work on it.  Never fear though, we have a truly competent assistant wagon master who is doing an admirable job of leading us.

The other drop outs:
·      a serious health issue for the wife of one of our couples
·      a woman going home cause she’s “sick of the mountains” (hmm, why would you come to Alaska if you don’t like mountains?)
·      we drove through a forest fire and three units decided they’d go ‘around’ instead of ‘through’ and just head home because of the smoke

I gave some serious thought to quitting myself when I heard about all the smoke we’d be driving through.  Then I thought, “I’ve started this trip twice, I’d like to finish it once.” 

While we all were lined up waiting for the pilot car to lead us, one of our ladies started cooking pancakes and bacon for everyone!  We were all walking around outside, eating pancakes, some were walking their dogs, others visiting with “non-Trackers”, and generally having a good time with the wait! 

A pilot car finally arrived and what an interesting drive we had!  The smoke was minimal but seeing all the fire-fighting equipment and “hot spots” in the woods was fascinating.

So, 30% of our group has dropped out, but we’re still hanging in there!  Onward to Stewart where rumor has it there will be a fleet of wreckers waiting for us to drag us all home.


Friday, August 6, 2010



The morning we left Teslin and headed to Junction 37 (162 mile drive) it was raining.  Poor Bill was out trying to clean the bugs from the windshield in the rain.  It is a never-ending job for him each day – every morning and usually part way through our drive he is out there cleaning the windshield.  Within minutes of being on the road the bugs start splattering --- really plays havoc with my picture taking.  I try really hard to take the pictures in between the bug guts but that gets more difficult as the day goes on.

I don’t think I had mentioned that there was a forest fire which closed down Highway 37, the very road we needed to travel to get to Stewart, BC, our final destination with the group.  There are only two roads out of town, the road that was closed to Stewart and the one that would take us in the opposite direction back to Dawson Creek where we had started our caravan.  We kept getting mixed messages; “the road’s closed”;  “No, it is open”; “Well, it’s open sometimes but the smoke is really thick!” So when we woke up to rain we thought that was probably a good thing and actually hoped it would rain all day.  Anyway as we left Teslin the decision had still not been made by “Tracks” which way we were going to go.  Praying for rain!

As we traveled back through territory we had been through before we couldn’t help but notice that here on August 6th, fall was already coming to this part of the country.  We could see the difference in the fireweed, the leaves on the trees and the grass and other plants along the road.  I tried to get some pictures but couldn’t get any that showed the subtle changes well.  They do have short summers around here.  Bill said it was time to finish up the trip and get out before the first big snowfall comes!  LOL

We made a few picturesque stops and were glad to have the chance to re-visit “Rancheria Falls”.  This was one of our first stops on the trip that had waterfalls.  It was such a quiet, peaceful, beautiful (and easy) walk to the falls that we made sure to retrace our steps.  There was an amazing difference.  Of course the sun wasn’t shining much but the falls were so much smaller --- the one barely was “falling” at all.  Also the lichen on the rocks that had been so bright and colorful on our previous stop had lost all that vividness.  The fireweed was losing it’s petals and going to seed.  Still a beautiful stop, just different as the season’s began their change.


We encountered these "German" buses throughout our trip.  They were at several of the same campsites.  Each of those little windows is a bed...that part of the bus has a slide-out.  Not sure I would want to travel this way.  Everyone on the bus is German and we only ever heard them speak German. 

Arrived at camp, set up and headed for the “briefing” for the next day’s journey.  Still not sure which way we were headed --- not sure what we even wanted them to decide.  We were a little unsure of the “smoke” damage that may occur in the motor home before we were through the “fire”.  Still we did not want to miss the next two stops on our route to finish the trip.

The decision had been made by “Tracks”.  We were going through the “fire”.  Some people did not like the decision but most agreed (some reluctantly) to stay with the group.  The rain continued on and off the rest of the evening so that was a good thing.

We had promised a couple, Vic & Pat, that we would play cribbage with them one night and as there were only a couple more nights before the end of the trip we agreed that this was going to have to be the night.  The campground had opened up a very nice shelter house for our use and about half the group ended up there playing cards, pool, farkle, or whatever.  After a few games of cribbage – Bill and I won 2 out of 3 games – we headed back to the motor home.  I had a cake to bake for George’s birthday party planned for the next evening.  Joan and I each were baking one so there would be enough for everyone.

Day over, relaxation time and a good night’s rest to get up early the next morning --- we needed to get in line by 7AM to be led through the “FIRE”.  We were headed through the fire, 209 miles to Iskut, BC, Canada.