The Journey North
After weeks and months of downsizing, dump runs, more downsizing, organizing and packing, we were ready to depart northward from our home in Nevada City, CA towards our new life in Homer, AK. Our truck 'Cherry Garcia' would carry the three of us, along with our 12-year-old cat Suki and our 5-year-old dog Raya. Our new 16' covered cargo trailer dubbed 'Silver Streak', was packed to the brim with our belongings, including a 6 foot clawfoot tub Owen had recently scored from a second story bathroom in a historic building in Jackson, CA. We had left just enough space in the front of the trailer to be able to make food and use our porta-potty (5 gallon bucket with seat) and with the 5 of us in the truck, we didn't have much room there either.
Day 1 - 545 Miles
We left Nevada City around 10am, working our way over and up the valley to I-5, which we would take all the way to the border. This was only the third time Owen had driven a trailer, and we were greeted with 60+ mph gusts from Weed, CA to the OR border, it was exhilarating to say the least (think John Candy's & Steve Martin's fingers at the end of the car/truck scene in Planes Trains and Automobiles). We pushed as far as we could into OR, and made it just south of Portland around 1am and pulled into a truck stop for the night.
Day2 - 678 Miles
After a peaceful 3 hours of sleep at the truck stop, we got back on the road in an effort to get through Portland before rush hour traffic. Once through, Owen pulled over and made us a hot pot of our favorite coffee, using the generator in the back of the truck. What a lifesaver a generator is!
Fully caffeinated, we hopped back on the Interstate towards Seattle. We LOVE Piroshky Piroshky in Seattle and I was able to convince Owen to pull off with our truck and trailer in tow, through the city down to Pike Place Market. After looking for a parking spot to accommodate our long rig, we found an alley that worked perfectly. Owen parked the truck and stayed with it while Juneau and I ran down to Piroshky Piroshky. After 15 minutes, we returned to the truck, steamy, buttery bounty in hand, and proceeded to snake our way back out through the city and onto 1-5 towards the Canadian border. Success. We have found the easiest and prettiest border crossing is in Sumas, WA, dropping you into Abbotsford, BC. After an incredibly painless 10 minute wait at the border, we were approved, and watched the Lower 48 slip away into the distance. If you ever make this journey, you MUST go to Nature's Pickin's, about a mile after the border crossing on the right-hand side.
An incredible farm stand, boasting a wide array of gourmet groceries, as well as a petting zoo with grass on the roof for the goats to graze! We stocked up on pierogies, sandwich meats (including smoked buffalo) and the best chocolate milk in the world, made locally. Juneau got to visit all the animals (goats, turkeys, pigs and a miniature pony and donkey) which made his day, then we loaded up and we were off again. Once through Hope, we snaked our way along the beautiful Frasier River, through Cache Creek, finally making a pit-stop in 100 mile house. We spent nearly two hours re-arranging the front of the trailer in an effort to make more space to prepare food, while Juneau got some exercise peddling his tricycle around in the brisk 30 degree evening. Then, we hopped back in and continued north on the 1 towards Prince George.
150 miles south of Prince George, we hit the densest tule fog either of us had ever seen, reducing our visibility to less than 10 feet. We crawled along for another 5 miles until we came upon a casino in Williams Lake. Exhausted, we pulled into the back parking lot and slept for another glorious 3 hours, UNTIL the damn cat tried to roll down the window and escape. TWICE!
Day 3 - 730 Miles
We pulled back onto the road around 3 am only to come across MORE tule fog! Slowly, we made our way north, and finally reached Prince George around 6am. We pulled off at Starbucks and got delicious breakfast sandwiches, made another pot of coffee (yes in front of Starbucks and yes we like our coffee that much) then got back on the road. At Kitwanga, we turned north on the 37, that's where you see the first sign towards AK, which is still exciting, no matter how many times you have done the drive.
Crossing the beautiful Skeena River, we continued northward, passing through avalanche zone after avalanche zone, hoping the snow gods were smiling upon us. We drove another few hundred miles and stopped about 50 miles south of Dease Lake for the night.
Day 4 - 507 Miles
We slept another few hours, made another pot of coffee, and pushed on towards Dease Lake in hopes of being able to fuel up and cross into The Yukon. Well. They do warn you about winter hours, we arrived into Dease Lake around 3 am, hoping they might open by 6 or so, boy was that overly optimistic. So, we waited the looong 6 hours, until they finally opened at 9 am. In the meantime, Owen broke out the cook stove and we fried up some pierogies and Juneau played with the ravens.
Once fueled, we got back on the Cassiar Highway towards the BC/YT border (and by border, I mean the sign that says, 'Yukon, larger than life'). Now officially on the AlCan, made our way through YT, stopping in Whitehorse to stretch our legs and get some dinner. Juneau got to get his tricycle out and peddle along the mighty Yukon River, watching chunks of ice break off and float downstream. Pretty impressive.
After Whitehorse, we pressed on and made it to Haines Junction for the night around midnight.
Day 5 - 620 Miles
After another 4 hours of sleep, we awoke, fueled up and continued to chug towards the border, guided by the full Pink moon and stars. We had made a diagram of the trailer as well as a complete inventory of contents, and when we gave it to the border officer, he literally said 'I love you guys', thanked us profusely for making his job easier, and sent us on our way. By far, the easiest crossing we had ever encountered. And, we were now in Alaska!! Once across, you still have a good two hours until you reach Tok, but it sure feels good to be back in the land of speed limit signs written in MPH. We reached Tok around 9am AKDT, fueled up and I made sandwiches, then we pushed on. We crossed rivers, passed lakes, saw glaciers, eagles, caribou and moose. This land is so wild, so much of it still open and untouched.
Our dear friends in Eagle River had offered to let us stop by, have a bite to eat and take a hot shower which felt GLORIOUS. We had a nice visit, then decided to keep pressing on and made it to a turnout along Turnagain Arm, south of Anchorage. The full Pink moon was incredible, glowing on the water and mountains cloaked in snow. It was truly magical.
Day 6 - 221 Miles
We slept for nearly 5 hours, woke up semi-refreshed but incredibly excited, made a pot of coffee, then got back on the road towards Homer, with less than 200 miles to go! We hit a patch of ice fog on the south side of the arm and got the truck and trailer sideways but recovered quickly before heading up the pass. Four hours later, we were coming down the hill into Homer. It had been a long 3,200 mile journey, we were exhausted, but so thankful for every mile, we are finally home!