Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

59 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Like I said, a long one, but since I kept a trip diary, here it is... (Pics start in #5)

If you only have an hour, here's the
on Youtube :)

June 30th — Bay Area to Winnemuca, Nevada
It’s good to have a checklist for leaving. Lets you gradually accrue a list of things to be sure to pack and tasks to check off before heading out, rather than being submerged by a last minute dash. Side benefit of unwinding tension in spousal interactions with everyone keyed up and keen to get underway. Only thing it clearly doesn’t help with is the part where I leave something right there on the desk and somehow fail to notice it on a ‘last check around’. One fewer chargers to weigh down the car.
We were planning to make it a fairly short day and camp at the Water Canyon BLM not so very far past Reno. Making good time we decided to keep going to cut down the subsequent day’s driving. Elko’s beautiful Shilo Inn was our lucky winner. Our ‘recently remodeled’ room was basic but comfortable, especially after I took a second look at the air conditioning controls and finally understood there was a difference between ‘actual cooling of air’ and merely ‘loud fan sound’. Guess the refurb didn’t stretch to the locks: don’t remember the last time I stayed at a hotel with good old fashioned metal door keys. Still, room was clean and comfortable.

July 1st — Antelope Island, Utah
Remembering that we were on a road trip that was also our summer vacation we took a short detour after crossing into Utah. I’d always fancied seeing Bonneville Salt Flats, having read and watched many things about various high speed records falling there. The ‘speedway’ was well signposted up to where the asphalt abruptly ended and dumped us onto the crisp white of the salt bed. My better half took the wheel and was quickly beside herself with blasting the FJ around a bit with no obstacles in sight. I snapped a few pictures seeing if I could get one of the FJ looking fast, which is a relative term in the FJ. Next we headed over to see what a parked line of cars was up to, and it turned out to be a mishmash of makes and models with the Ford Focus RS most heavily represented. Folks had awnings and chairs set up, and from time to time groups would get up from chatting and hoon around some, in pairs or as singletons. A few impromptu drag races, some sorta-drifting and general silliness. Made me miss having the Subaru STI, which would have been in its element. Elsewhere a group was setting up reflectors for a photography shoot. It was breezy and surprisingly mild, if piercingly bright. I settled for getting out the drone, fiddling with it for ten minutes to re-pair the remote after it had apparently fallen out with the drone, and then buzzing up and down getting aerial shots of the three of us out in the middle of a stark pretty nowhere. At least I thought that was what I was doing, though it later turned out I didn’t record any footage. Whoops. The handful of still photos at ground level turned out well, though.
The campsite was on Antelope Island, a not-quite island on the wet portion of the salt lake a little north of Salt Lake City. A miles-long causeway led to surprisingly large island with low hills, several camping areas, a small restaurant and a few miscellaneous buildings. We’d stopped to pick up some provisions before heading onto the island but had failed to pick up any water, and hadn’t checked ahead, so didn’t know this was a dry campground. Thankfully the nearby beach grill was still open and had potable water on a hose we could use to fill our MSR Dromedary. The sunset over the mountains to the far side of the lake was stunning, and the sunrise to the closer eastern peaks was almost as impressive. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly we packed up and got moving. Those earlier long trips were good practice.

July 2nd — Big Sky, Montana
Checking the weather report before heading out we expected ‘a chance of showers’ up around Big Sky a few hundred miles north. That seemed like a remote possibility as we got started, with nearly cloudless sky over the Salt Lake area and a pleasantly cool sunrise. The temperature climbed rapidly as the sun rose and we got going after a quick coffee. Lunch and switching drivers we did at West Yellowstone. We’d been through West Yellowstone a few times, but didn’t have any favorite spots. We picked an outdoor table to one side of a restaurant veranda. It was shadowed and there was a stiff breeze coming through, so between ordering and eating I was dispatched back to the car to collect jackets. Not long after getting back on the road the weather did change, with short hard showers blowing through and periods of sunshine.
At Big Sky we checked into the Huntley hotel, set up as a year round resort area with a handful of ski lifts running for summertime mountain bikers. The room was pleasant and comfortable, with a sort-of mud room area just inside the door for wintertime guests to load and unload wet shells, ski and snowboard gear. The nearest lift stations were right outside the hotel.

July 3rd — Glacier National Park, Montana
Blackout curtains are great for sleeping, not so great for waking up. The Professor rolled over and asked what time it was once the dog got up and started agitating for a trip outside. I reported “about 7:30” and saw no rush to indulge the beast. Said wife didn’t believe me, checked and said it was in fact after 9:00. I’d lost 90m in there since checking the clock ‘a moment ago’. Traipsing stuff out to the car, walking the dog and the unusual task of need to print out a signature page for mailing somewhere added up over an hour. We went looking for a stamp at the reception desk and quickly detoured as we realized our room included breakfast and the service only ran for another ten or so minutes. Still, in that time we scoffed down a good amount of food and a passing staff member not only refilled our coffees but brought us a couple of to-go cups as well. There are still fine people in the world. The front desk was helpful in supplying a stamp, and we shared banter with the staff about the slightly surreal and gigantic painting of a bear invading a campsite for breakfast which hung behind them.
Our campground that evening was on a riverside close to Glacier National Park. It being peak season our spot wasn’t directly on the river, having booked it too late for that. Short walk to the water, though. The following morning we took the dog for a walk and grumbled amongst ourselves about the reserved spots right on the river which had remained empty overnight. Inventing stories and low comments about the names written in marker on the reservation cards clipped to the site labels seemed healthy and sensible to us. I’d pulled the awning out from the side of the FJ and put the central post underneath it to prop it up, expecting rain overnight after a couple of light showers as we’d arrived. We didn’t see any rain during the evening and instead sat next to the fire as things cooled off. The night was colder than we’d expected and the dog wasn’t entirely pleased with it come the morning, being keen to hop out of the car, run around some and even considering getting close to the morning fire, partly overcoming his long suspicion of the bright crackling nonsense. We made a mental note to get a couple more blankets on our way up to Banff, since someone had managed to forget the dog blanket when checking out of the hotel. That someone being me, that put me 0-for-2 on failing to notice obvious necessary items on final sweeps of spaces. So maybe not my best role.

July 4th — Banff, Alberta
It’s surprising when a border patrol agent jumps up, starts yelling and waving his arms. Even more so if that agent happens to be Canadian. It takes the edge off to realize he’s yelling at the car behind to stop and back up to the Stop sign, it having slowly rolled by the designated spot and all its cameras. He then delivered a quick, efficient interrogation of our destination, license plate number (it’s my FJ, honest!) and whether we carried any unhinged contraband like automatic weapons or American firewood. Invasive insects turn out to be observant of national borders. Took a few minutes total, and we were over into Canada.
Wally World in Calgary furnished us with a couple of extra fleece blankets, one for humans and the other for the dog. I was on dog-go-piss patrol while The Professor went in. She reported back that Wally World was reliably identical to those south of the border.
The camp host the previous evening at Glacier he’d mentioned that Banff was a bit on the crazy busy side, and he wasn’t wrong. Downtown was mobbed with tourists on foot, and too many cars jostling for parking spots. If you’re headed toward Banff from somewhere less touristy, stop there and stock up with provisions for more options and fewer headaches.
We were booked in for two nights at a vast campground not far outside town. Our spot was site E of loop 42, where each loop looked to go up to at least G, giving you some idea of the overall size. Between each cluster of loops there was a building with flush toilets, soap and hot water and a gathering room with wood stove (dormant) and sinks inside and out. Fancy. On the flip side, no bear lockers at the sites so everything remotely smelly or appetizing had to go back into the FJ overnight. More cleaning than would be needed to just shunt everything into one side of a bear locker, and less could be left at camp during excursions. Maybe that helped get people into the habit of tidying up.
The adjacent campsite had a dog, Moby, who took a while to stop barking at us, and never entirely left the habit behind. As a dog owner we were happy enough with that. Always better if it’s somebody else’s dog making the noise.

July 5th — Banff, Alberta
The land from the border up to Calgary and its surrounds is pretty flat, but that plateau is at over 4,000ft. Heading toward Banff mountains rise sharply above, really looking the part of scarred rocky peaks with snow on upper ledges and thick pine forest around lakes at the base. With decent roads in and a modest drive from Calgary, it’s obvious why the place is a tourist magnet.
This was a day off driving, so The Professor instead took us for a hike. She presented three options from an online guide to “Bucket List” hikes around Banff. All sounded pretty good, but we both liked the look of Helen Lake. Only after deciding that did we notice it was almost 100Km up the road toward Jasper, past Lake Louise. We didn’t have anywhere else to be so drove up to the trailhead. The hike was marked as moderate, which made us glad we hadn’t chosen the strenuous option. Uphill with occasional steep sections through the forest from the road, then a long undulating section before a shallower climb to the lake. All the views were worth the hike. On the way down a smallish black bear was foraging next to the trail, and dutifully did what black bears are supposed to do: ran off into the woods immediately. The dog decided to pass that all off casually, even though he loses his mind if UPS comes to the door at home.

July 6th — Lake Louise, Icefield Parkway and Jasper, Alberta
The previous day’s hiking excursion had already taken us past Lake Louise, and it had looked busy even at the head of the access road. We decided to visit early on before continuing up to Jasper in the hope of beating the worst of the crowds. We arrived a little before 08:30 to drive into and right back out of the main parking lot near the lake as a car a few ahead of us took the last remaining spot. Luckily there was a smaller overflow parking lot a few minutes walk back down off the access road. That had filled to capacity around us by the time we’d parked and leashed the dog to walk up to the village. Lake Louise itself is worth seeing, and the Fairmont hotel somethingorother right on the lakeshore looked like it would be pretty stunning to stay at in winter. Epic crowds this particular summer day were a bit distracting, but we couldn’t complain too much being wandering tourists ourselves. The hordes also kept usefully to the paved path and viewing decks right by the hotel. Wandering even a couple of minutes up a nearby trail was enough to get to a quiet spot over the lake. We took a few snaps and wandered about a bit before returning to the car and getting underway.
The Icefield Parkway to Jasper would probably be best driven in a fancy GT at 03:00 when the RVs and trailers are safely tucked into parking spots. For us it wasn’t a horribly slow drive, but traffic kept everything to a modest pace. Not such a problem given the amount to see along the way. Whole mountainsides of twisted sedimentary layers, the scenery building eventually to roadside glaciers. We stopped at the Columbia Icefield for lunch and wandered up to (almost) the front edge of the glacier. Plentiful signs warn of the perils of getting closer. Guided tours take groups out onto the glacier a few hundred meters further up, presumably in an area well scouted for crevasses and other hazards.
Jasper itself had its fair share of tourists (such us), but far fewer than Banff and Lake Louise. Felt more like a straight up mountain town. The weather was still warm but muggy and cloudy with odd spots of rain. We stayed at Pocahontas Campground. The name surprised me a bit, reminding me I don’t know anything about Pocahontas. Except that maybe she dies at the end of the movie. I haven’t seen the movie either, but remember that from a comic titled “How to spoil Pocahontas” so I’m paying it forward.

July 7th — Dawson Creek, British Columbia
Things compressed vertically not far beyond Jasper. Rolling hills covered in thick mixed forests. Traffic still wasn’t heavy, but there was more of it. A lot of well equipped pickups, often towing work trailers, and plentiful semi trucks and ten wheelers. The usual outfit was a thick waist-high caked mud color scheme laid over the top of whatever commercial livery. The roadway had color matched tire lines curving out over it from junctions with unpaved forrest roads every few hundred meters. Each had several all-business signs saying what it led to, radio frequencies to use, and helpful tips like not parking in particular places because of high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide gas, which is toxic. Most were labeled with pad numbers, leading back short distances to individual sites with a tower, flame stack, bunch of piping and some tanks and a single prefab building. Those are apparently the most numerous component of hydrocarbon production from Alberta’s tar sands. I’d read about changing fortunes of Alberta’s oil and gas industry based on world prices, but wherever it was on the scale when we passed through there was a good amount of activity. I’d never seen a bunch of flame stacks sticking out the top of a forrest.
Aside from the extraction and processing there were accommodation areas every so often, several as what looked like tack-on builds on or adjacent to existing motels. Signs advertised both “Crew” and “VIP” rooms. Since the motels looked like pretty much all motels look, I wasn’t sure whether that meant upgrades to some rooms or just a label upgrade for what was already there when the new blocks were added. Man Camps.
Dawson Creek itself seemed big and normal after the preceding few hundred kilometers of forest, where Dallas met Lord of The Rings. Business names included references to the town’s place at mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, and in town next to a roundabout is a big sign with flags on top proclaiming the same. There was also smaller sign daubed in stickers from earlier visitors and, potentially more helpfully, a smiling guide offering information and advice from a tiny trailer. We found a handful of other Alaska Highway types snapping commemorative pictures on and around the sign and parking lot. I got truck envy from the small fleet of RVs, travel trailers and bigger-than-my-FJ tow vehicles.

July 8th — Fort Nelson, British Columbia
The highway seemed different after Dawson Creek. Billboards still advertised oil and gas related services and equipment from time to time, but we saw much less in the way of extraction infrastructure than on the way in. A black bear was cheerfully grazing by the side of the road where the forest was cut back, as promised by the guidebook. Wonder if highway verge grazing jobs come with dental benefits. Everything felt a bit more remote that the earlier sections of the trip, though I didn’t compare actual miles between outposts.
Our hotel was generic, but pleasant enough. The parking lot here had license plates from a bunch of distant US states and Canadian provinces. Overhearing conversations it seemed a lot of folk were making some version of the Alaska trip. I didn’t envy the guy wrenching on a small trailer behind his Harley.
July 9th — Muncho Lake, British Columbia
Roadside attractions became whimsical but surprisingly useful on this section. The Tetsa River lodge cinnamon buns, for example: advertised to represent the Cinnamon Bun Center of The Galactic Cluster. I can’t speak cinnamon bun quality across this and other nearby galaxies, but these were definitely worth the stop. We chatted to other folk who were making the same trip north or south as we ate enough calories to hibernate.
We were back in the mountains, too, and the highway twisted over passes and down into wide flood plain valleys and past lakes of varying sizes. We kicked ourselves for not having planned a night to camp at a couple of places we stopped at on the way, finding open sites right on the shore of incredible mountain lakes of bright light blue.
Looking out of the FJ, the dog relearned and shared that he is seriously thrown by any sort of sheep with horns. He doesn’t seem quite sure why, but they worry him more than horses or even bears.

59 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
July 10th — Outside Whitehorse, Yukon
Our sorta-schedule had us camping at Watson Lake, but we decided we had more in us and kept going. The day started (usual desperate coffee aside) with a stop at Liard Hot Springs for a dip. Sadly not a place for dogs, but a relaxing treat for humans. From the parking lot a boardwalk heads out across marshes with occasional viewing stops and signs noting the types of wildlife you might see roaming around. The hot springs themselves have a couple of small pools with shallow waterfalls running between them. The Professor preferred the higher pool with more adults and fewer kids. I thought that seemed a little snooty — which would be weird for her — and she explained a more pragmatic reason: the mostly adults pool might have fewer people taking a piss in the water while we were in it. Fair enough. Nice wood building with changing rooms, cubbies and steps down into the water. Nice to sit and soak for 20m before getting back on the road.
On the way in a solo guy on a motorbike was behind us in line and asked where we were from having noticed our license plate. Turned out he lived only about 30 miles away from us, and we chatted a bit about routes. He’d rode up to Deadhorse and taken one of the (required) guided tours up to Prudhoe Bay so he could tick off swimming in the Arctic Ocean. We weren’t planning to do that but did catch up with him again after parking to ask a bit about conditions on the Dalton Highway, since heading at least up to the Arctic Circle was on our maybe list. He reported that it was navigable but a bit chopped up in places, and cheerfully noted it had made for a “touch couple of days riding”, but should be OK in a 4x4.
We pulled off to get gas at Coffee Corner (?) Seemed like a good time for a snack, too. Going inside the guy looked up from his paper and I said hi. He looked at me for a moment, said nothing, then went back to his paper. Alrighty. We did end up getting a snack and I bought a (so far unread) copy of San Trapper Cooped Up In Remote Cabin With Crazed Wife and Other Stories. Yes, that’s a real book. I thought the title was funny, and it was a financial tribute buy safe passage. Alas, we only noticed an ad for the place in The Milepost later on, which meant we’d failed to sample their amazing milkshakes.
While we weren’t camping in Watson Lake it did have a few shops, and I noticed a modest stock of headlamp bulbs when we stopped for gas. We’d blown one and I’d forgotten to pack the spares. None were the right type for the FJ, and asking the friendly Aussie bloke behind the counter if anywhere else might have them he just said, “Do you know where you are, Mate?” They did have coffee, and he suggested Whitehorse would be our first and best option for finding them.
We camped not far short of Whitehorse itself at a campground near a lake, which was busy enough that Lakeside spots were all spoken for but there was a nice site looking back over the mountains. The stiff wind was blowing over the lake, with small breakers on the stony beach. To our surprise there was also a solid LTE cellular signal, probably related to the houses strung along the far side of the Lake.

July 11th — Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon
Whitehorse is Yukon’s only city of any size, and had a Napa Auto where I found replacement headlight bulbs, and a Starbucks that looked and seemed exactly like every other Starbucks everywhere. That was a handy place for The Professor to perch while I sat outside taking a phone call I needed to deal with. The tone of the call neatly matched me spilling half my coffee when the lid popped off and the cup buckled as I crouched to perch on a step. In more favorable developments the local outdoor store was large and solidly stocked. We at last replaced the Jetboil which had spat out its sometimes-working ignitor a few days before. Probably could’ve repaired that again, but it was over a decade old and seemed to be heading into the phase of life like and old car that needs something replaced any time you breathe near it.
It’s a long drive from Whitehorse up to Dawson City and the start of the Top of The World highway. Would have been more sensible to break that journey over two days, but we kept at it thinking perhaps we’d get a hotel in Dawson. Hot tip: don’t expect to pitch up to Dawson City on an evening in early July and find vacant hotel rooms. Even though we saw very little traffic on the way up everything was booked in Dawson City, which had a surprising amount of hotel capacity. Still, it also had an off-leash and fenced dog park. The dog was happy to get to run around a bit and mess about on jumps and obstacles. That was a little after 9 PM in still bright sunshine. We made ourselves some cheese sandwiches on top of the Yeti cooler in the deserted parking area then queued for the ferry across the river.
The ferry across the river is free and apparently will run any time of day or night in summer. A few cars and trucks were crossing in each direction when we showed up around 10 PM. The crossing is only a few minutes, but the river has a brisk current and the ferry was pointed almost upriver to hit the opposite ramp. The ramps are temporary, bulldozed out of the shore, and there’s no tying up. The ferry just hits and digs in while vehicles drive on and off.
The campground just past the ferry crossing was busy but not full, and we found a site besides the empty site right at the entrance that was right on the main track. The Professor went to bed and the dog insisted on putting himself to bed in the FJ not long after. I sat making some notes on my laptop and looked up the overnight weather since we again had strong cell service at camp. The sunset time was marking as 12:20 AM.
The guy across had an Earth Roamer (or something like) that looked altogether serious, and both I and the guy with the RV at the site next to us felt compelled to go and bend his ear about it next morning. He’d added the rear winch after getting it stuck in ice (didn’t say where) and having to leave it and go back to get it after “a few months”. That was a little ahead of our antics in the FJ.

July 12th — Top of The World Highway, Yukon and Alaska
Travel guides made the Top of The World Highway sound like the movie Sorcerer. Reading a little closer, a lot of the more white knuckle reports came from folk driving large RVs, pulling camp trailers, or fifth wheel rigs. I could see how it might all be a bit full on with those setups, and we occasionally got stuck rolling slowly behind trailers and and one especially cautious pickup carrying a truck camper. As noted in the books the Canadian side is paved to the border in OK to very good shape. The American side through to Chicken is much more variable, starting with clean perfect blacktop at the border itself then gravel and paved sections in poor to OK condition. Nothing approaching 4-low terrain, but some dips, deep potholes, washboard and loose sections. Conditions weren’t the best either, with low cloud reducing visibility to a few yards in places, and sometimes heavy rain turning to sleet near the border crossing. The crossing station itself is about as quaint as it looks from the pictures. Each vehicle took a few minutes to get processed across into Alaska, and there was a short queue so we had time to take in the immediate scenery. No services here, and all business. The most northern land border entry to the USA, and clocks back an hour for Alaska Standard Time. Actually just the FJ clock back an hour because that was manual. All the other clocks didn’t figure out the time change until we hit cellphone service later on.
So we’d finally arrived in Alaska itself.
We took the turnoff up to Eagle but thought better of it after about 20 miles. The Professor mentioned that her reason for wanting to head that way was to see the wildlife, and we ran into a group of Caribou not far in, then a single lone Caribou who trotted down the road in front of us for a while until he (or she) found a good spot to skip off into the bushes. With another 50 miles or so to Eagle we decided that’d do it and we were really looking forward to lunch. So we turned around and headed back to the ‘highway’ proper to get ourselves over to Chicken.
If you every find yourself in Chicken for lunch, have the Chicken Pot Pie and a chocolate chip cookie to follow. Being remote the cafe isn’t cheap, but the portions were seriously generous and the food just right, especially against the ****ty weather outside. The cafe had two people working and pragmatic approach to service. While we were inhaling our pot pie someone else asked if they could still get breakfast items, and got told sure, as long as they didn’t mind them tasting of salmon that had since been on the grill. No extra ceremony here. Still, they had some of the best chocolate chip cookies I can remember.
We kept going through Tok, stopping for gas and to see if there might be any hotel rooms available (pet friendly, obviously). Just like Dawson City everything was full. The weather was rapidly clearing and had improved to sunshine and showers, so we pressed on to a campsite at Quartz Lake a few miles beyond Delta Junction.

July 13 — Fairbanks, Alaska
The drive from Delta Junction (well, Quartz Lake) to Fairbanks is relatively short. It seemed shorter still being on solid well maintained highway. Sunshine had broken out and the temperature had gone up a good chunk. Things were distinctly summery. We arrived at the hotel around lunchtime hoping for an early check in and were promptly disappointed and told our room wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be until the official check in time of 3 PM. That gave us a few hours to kill so we drove around a bit looking out some local options The Professor had seen in the Milepost. Just outside town was a small wildlife sanctuary with Musk Oxen, Reindeer and Caribou. They did tours every couple of hours which were also the only way to get near more than a couple of the animal pens, so we went to get lunch in the time before the next tour.
A pocket strip mall near the hotel had a few options and we chose Brewsters, a pub restaurant place. Did the trick, and we headed back to the wildlife spot in good time for the tour, which was guided by someone who split her time between that and being a school music teacher. The tour was good for information on shared heritage and practical differences between reindeer and caribou (big spoiler: caribou are a fair amount bigger with longer legs). We also learned with mild surprise that you shouldn’t touch musk oxen because humans are hotbeds of biological bad news for their health.
The hotel was modest but roomy and we were glad to get into proper beds and air conditioning. The dog was most pleased of all, and skipped some of his usual antics in favor of stretching out on a blanket and crashing out.

July 14th — Fairbanks, Alaska
A lazy evening in front of the TV with hotel Wifi meant The Professor had plenty of local options for the day, and had “negotiated” a couple of specifics before we we’d finished morning coffee. First off was a nice little hike (3.7 miles) up to some rocky outcrops above a river valley. Nice views at the high points and good exercise for us and the dog. On the way back down through the forest I wished I’d dipped myself entirely in insect repellant. Frequent bites encouraged us to keep up a good clip back to the final section of trail, which tracked alongside the river in breezier air with fewer bugs. We passed a few people on the trail, including a handful of runners wearing bib numbers. Music was playing in the car park when we got back and a small race facilities awning was set up. The race was a local 50 mile run.
The hiking spot was chosen partly for being on the way to Chena Hot Springs, at which the road ended. Chena featured a lodge hotel, mountain biking and other outdoor sports, a year-round ice museum in a large tented hall, and the hot springs themselves. We soaked in the hot springs for a while and took a pass on the ice museum because we’d have had to wait around for 90m for the next opening.
Heading back into town to the hotel took us past the surprisingly plush and modern campus of the University of Fairbanks. We stopped in at the natural history museum, which was packed with exhibits on the history of Alaska’s geology, fauna and people. There was a particularly detailed and discomfiting section about the forced internment of people of Japanese descent during WW2. I read a preserved original assembly order, detailing where, when and with what documentation and belongings families were to report for relocation. Very few personal affects could be taken along, and those subject to transport could, at the government’s option and convenience, pay to have the remainder of their belongings stored by the government at their own risk. No pets were allowed.

July 15th — Anchorage, Alaska
We weren’t planning to stay in or explore Denali National Park much. In peak season cars are only permitted on the first few miles of road into the park, after which all transport is by bus. Since the valley is a few dozen miles long that translates to taking a bus to see all the good stuff, in particular any close up view of the mountain itself. The buses don’t take dogs, and we fancy doing a switch off of dog duty for a day each just to get further into the park. Denali NP is right between Anchorage and Fairbanks so easy to get to in Alaska terms, and very well served in terms of tours and facilities. Maybe come back for that some other time. Perhaps get younger and much fitter and climb it.
Anchorage felt like a fair size city after staying in Fairbanks. We had an anonymous but fairly recently built hotel-with-kitchenette place not far from the Airport. Our only challenge was the continuing crappy data coverage of Google Project Fi roaming meaning we didn’t have access to online maps. First world problem that’s surprisingly annoying when you want to search for a supermarket nearby to grab some groceries.

July 16th — Near Seward, Alaska
Coffee paired with failed hotel wifi. The front desk were helpful enough, but weren’t in a position to troubleshoot anything because the service was contracted out. I spent 30m and an extra cup of coffee on the phone to the tech support, trying to politely go through the procedures the support guy had me attempt while making it quick. (For the geeks: the network wasn’t suppling IP addresses over DHCP, which eventually led to them rebooting the AP covering our room and restoring service.)
Next we waited out a passing heavy shower which got in the way of a plan to walk the dog. The dog, reasonably enough, considers walking from a comfortable building into heavy rain something only to be done on an emergency basis. We packed up the room and in the meantime the rain had subsided so we took a walk around a nearby park which happened to be below the flight line for Anchorage. I was surprised at seeing several 747s departing as we wandered, though I suppose Anchorage would make a sensible cargo waypoint.
Our notional area to camp was somewhere around Resurrection Bay, perhaps Seward. The drive down from Anchorage makes it immediately obvious why cruise ships ply those waters. The highway traces the waterline at the foot of the mountains, steep faces of which ascend to snow patches and often glaciers. A cloud layer breaking up over the higher slopes with frequent heavy showers between sunny breaks made it look all the more dramatic.
We’d planned to make frequent stops to take pictures of and just stare at the scenery, so we pulled off much more frequently than we had on some earlier legs. About 40 miles in we stopped at another wildlife sanctuary, this one including lynx, wolves and moose on top of the musk oxen, reindeer and caribou we’d seen near Fairbanks. It was early afternoon by the time we’d driven and walked around there was some hangry in the air. Waiting a long time for a couple of portions of plain fries that rang up at $9 at least helped the hungry part.
Returning to the FJ our next adventure was looking for The Professor’s purse and not finding it. Thinking about last seen timing the last solid sighting we could remember was a Starbuck’s we’d stopped at on the way out of Fairbanks. Luckily the offline Google maps we’d downloaded once the hotel wifi was back online contained Starbucks and branch phone numbers (we had cell service, just no data service). A quick call confirmed that said purse had in fact been left behind. Mistakes had been made.
An 85 mile detour later we were headed back toward Seward, checking out a couple of potential campsites before descending to the town proper. Good thing we did, too. Seward is a mixture of a tourist and working town, with a cruise ship docked when we arrived and a couple of moderate sized hotels near the dock area, surrounded by shops hawking local boat, train and helicopter tours to the sites. There are a few campgrounds on the outskirts and right on the town waterfront itself. All were quite close quarters affairs, mostly stocked with RVs parked less than 10ft apart. We wouldn’t even have had room to stretch out the awning from the FJ if rain threatened. None suited us. We headed to a slightly more remote site along gravel road to the south of town, which was a little more promising but still mostly full and mostly RVs very close together. I guess that works a fair bit better if you have your own and your neighbor’s wall in the gap. Some pull in tent sites set behind in the woods were also too close together for our liking, and little more than parking spaces with rock fire rings anyway. We headed back to <what was it called? Primrose?> lake, and took the first free spot we found.

59 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
July 17th — Government Peak Picnic Area, Alaska
The Professor got hiking and I got dog duty. The hike up alongside Exit Glacier outside Seward had all kinds of rave reviews, but didn’t allow dogs. I dropped The Professor off and headed into town to see if I could find something tasty and bad for me to eat while unsupervised. As it happened I took a trip to the hardware store, cleaned out the cooler and replenished the ice and never did find anything like the giant chocolate croissant I had been imagining. I took a few snaps at the roadside and got the dog out at most of the stops. Headed back out to the glacier trailhead a little before 2 PM when The Professor had guessed she finish up, and noted the well signposted advice to expect the hike to take 6–8 hours, not the 3.5 hours we’d guessed. I sat for an hour or so chatting to other visitors. The dog always attracts people over to say hello (to him). The Professor showed up only 30m or so outside her original estimate after setting a good clip up and down the trail. Good thing, too, as a heavy squall had just come through and moderate rain was still falling, looking like it was going to continue for a while. The rest of the afternoon had a mix of sunshine and heavy showers as we drove, so the morning was a good choice for hiking.
I was a bit jealous of The Professor’s pics from the upper sections of the hike. Spectacular views of snowfield at the top of the glacier with shadows from the (then) scattered clouds. Declined her offer to stick around another day so I could do the hike as well, we headed North with a vague plan to camp somewhere near Palmer.
Anchorage rush hour traffic didn’t slow us down, and we made good time to Palmer. Before going into town to find dinner we took the dog for an evening walk on a river shore where camping was also allowed, but didn’t seem that inviting. Dinner was a quick bite at the Noisy Goose Cafe. After that a quick trip to gas up, see if we could grab some free wifi outside Safeway (not really, as it happened) and a chat about where to aim to camp. It was after 8 PM but with the sun still high we decided to fit in a trip to Independence Mine before camping, rather than waiting until the following morning. The mine is close to the summit of Hatcher Pass, a few thousand feet above low-lying Palmer. The asphalt road is in good shape but windy and fairly steep in places from the Palmer side, and we were quickly back up into green mountains. Shortly before the mine the through section of the road turns to gravel over the summit and down to eventually meet up with the highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks. We took the spur to the mine to find it was closed to cars at 8 PM. Foot traffic was still allowed but the mine was already in shadow so we didn’t bother to walk up. There was a lodge with a few mountainside cabins just below the car park for the mine. Looked cozy so we dropped by to see if they had rooms, but it was all closed up.
We descended a couple of miles and set up at the Government Peak Picnic Area, which also had some limited camping spots. The RV spots were all taken with splendid looking RVs and fifth wheel trailers, so the FJ ‘RV’ was relegated to popping the tent in the adjacent parking lot.

July 18th — Near Tok, Alaska
Our parking lot stay was uneventful. A couple stopped by to do a bit of drone flying, reminding me I had mine in the back of the FJ and hadn’t flown it since Salt Lake. The only places I’d really wanted to fly since had been restricted, but there weren’t any signs hereabouts. As usual I had half forgotten how to fly it in the meantime. Besides the drone another couple of folk stopped briefly to use the rest room, and struck up the usual conversation about the (now deployed) rooftop tent on the FJ. They had a long bed truck with a camper shell apparently housing a full domestic king size mattress and all the trimmings. Well ****, that sounded a little comfier still than a hard shell RTT.
It was a chilly morning, and we had a lazy start over coffee before heading back up to the mine. Four adjacent contrails headed North high above. I couldn’t see the aircraft but assumed they were military given they were heading in a row.
Independence mine was tucked right into the bowl at the top of the mountain. The mineworks were derelict or sealed, but several buildings were well restored and the museum well stocked with information. Turns out competition for cooks was fierce between Alaskan and northern Canadian mines, as good food was the backbone of morale, especially through brutal winters. I saw what I took to be the same four aircraft from earlier flying back south in two pairs at a much lower altitude, but still distant. I could make out canted twin tails but they didn’t look like F-18s.
We stopped for lunch at a random roadside cafe and general store, and were rewarded with excellent burgers. Those we recommended by the cafe’s only other patron, who’s Harley sat outside. We got chatting about our trip, California and so on. He was an Air Force vet and thought it more likely the aircraft we’d seen were F-22s than F-35s, and that Red Flag exercises had been run recently. I wondered if the F-16 in strange camouflage livery we’d seen pulling tight turns up near Fairbanks was part of the same gig.
Crossing back into Canada on the Alcan was uneventful. The Canadian border post is about 20km inside the border. We did finally get asked for the dog’s rabies vaccine certificate though, and the border guard did seem to read it. A few minutes into Canada our cellphones started receiving strong 4G LTE signal. It was like discovering the internet all over again after the extremely sporadic and slow coverage we’d had in Alaska.
The Professor had co-piloted for a campsite and we stopped at a well reviewed private RV campground next to a small lake. The owner happened to be outside on an ATV and asked if we needed help. We asked to take a look around and about the different cabins they offered. She said pets were allowed in the cabins, but must be kept off all furniture. The smaller cabins were just large enough to house double beds, and had no indoor plumbing. The whole place had a mildly unwelcoming vibe, so we kept going. The Professor found a municipal campground near a small river which worked out fine. Free firewood turned out to be harder to get going than at some other sites, but The Professor got the fire going before the evening got cool.

July 19th — Whitehorse again
The lower elevation of our campsite translated to a milder night and morning. We got packed up and headed into Tok to get breakfast, stock up a bit and visit Mukluk Land. We’d skipped that on the way north and were looking forward to its reputed wackiness on the way back. Not enough to check the hours, and we weren’t going to wait around for the 2 PM opening hours. Perhaps another time for Mukluk Land. We’d left ourselves a long drive to Whitehorse. The Professor was looking forward to visiting Kluane having also left that out on the way up. We took a side trip to Kathleen Lake and wished we’d decided to camp there. It was a warm late afternoon, so we settled for jumping in instead before getting back on the road to Whitehorse.
Peak season made for slim hotel pickings in Whitehorse, but we were keen to spend a night indoors. Canada’s Best Value Inn in Whitehorse turned out to be it. **** hotel. First, the excess pet fee was $40, higher than usual. The room looked clean but smelled strongly of past cigarette smoke. No air conditioning besides an open window and an electric fan. Some lamps worked, some didn’t, and some were alarmingly in between with brief periods of light accompanied by buzzing. At some point the room had been hastily repainted without covering the floor properly, and white paint specks dotted the floorboards. Pulling the bypass to engage the shower almost brought the tap and piping with it, neither apparently attached to anything besides a bit of sealant. Place looked like someone had some reasonable ideas about redecorating, then got given 1/10th of the amount of money required and an hour to finish the job for the entire hotel. Book early.

July 20th — Whitehorse
The dog had picked up a reasonable size nick on the inside of a back leg somewhere in the previous couple of days, and one of his feet was looking a little raw. That was my excuse for picking a fairly flat hike. The Professor had suggested returning to Emerald Lake now the weather was better than our first visit. I couldn’t find a hiking trail right at the lake and all those nearby looked distinctly full-on. We drove up to the Grey Mountain trailhead above Whitehorse for a notional undulating 12km rather than 6km of straight up and straight down. We actually did about 8km as the trail got harder to follow and the dog more reluctant to bushwhack the undergrowth. The Professor confessed that she’d been expecting a bull**** flat hike, but allowed that our 1,400ft of elevation gain counted as a reasonable walk at least.
The Days Inn was a whole lot preferable to our previous hotel. It was like a budget hotel furbished a few years ago. Light bulbs weren’t widely varied, and worked. The ventilation system was a typical hotel air conditioner, not an open window and a fan. We decided it’d be good to stay an extra day just to break up the trip. They didn’t have availability when we arrived but someone must have cancelled during the evening, and later we were able to book the following night.

59 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
July 21st — White horse
Rest day in Whitehorse. The Professor had a bunch of work to catch up on, for which she requested a couple of hours without the dog. Knowing that would be more like five hours minimum I figured I had most of the day to kill. The dog and I started with a return trip to the Whitehorse dog park. It was deserted again when we arrived, but Max the big-ass black schnauzer and his cheerful owner Harry showed up a few minutes later. The dog quickly figured out he didn’t like Max much but could tolerate him, and vice versa. Max was surprisingly cool about it given the 20lbs or so of muscle in excess of the dog. Harry and I talked about photography, motorbikes, and his epic-sounding drives between Whitehorse and Central America in the mid eighties. Having a bunch of armed men jump into the pickup bed and bang on the door for a cab ride sounded alarming. Later having another group do the same — but from the other side — and instead give the go signal by firing into the air seemed like something I could entirely do without.
I took care of some rest day tasks, restocking the car with gum, tossing out leftovers from the cooler, bleaching it and refilling it with ice. Never did find out what the was causing the smell up in Seward, and it was more or less gone today. I went ahead and cleaned it out anyway.
The remainder of the afternoon I followed some advice from Harry and drove to a nearby lake along a gravel road on the far side of the Yukon river. The parking area was busy enough that I didn’t bother getting the dog out, but made a mental note that it would be a good spot for The Professor to take a plunge at some point. Later on I decided to trim my hair. Ended up shaving it all off. Ooops.

July 22nd — Watson Lake, Yukon
More returning along the Alaska Highway, this time camping at Watson Lake (body of water, not town). Nice campsite with typical set back from the lake among trees. Busier than some of the places we’d camped, with more big fifth wheel trailers and RVs. But a few other (relatively) light campers with roof top tents on Tacomas and the like. Had the usual conversation with a passerby about the benefits and drawbacks of truck + RTT + awning as a travel option. I’d gotten pretty used to having that chat by this point. The Professor insisted — reasonably — that I put up the mosquito netting rather than just pull out the awning. Good call, that. I managed not to get it full of bugs during pitching this time, and pegged/weighted the skirting at the bottom adequately. Much more comfortable place to sit for the evening. Bonus that the dog seemed to count being in it as some version of indoors, and was happy enough to curl up on his bed peacefully. Of course it might have helped that he wasn’t being bitten to **** by everything with a pair of wings and a thirst for blood.

July 23rd — Iskut, British Columbia
The night had been mild and the morning only cool rather than cold. The Professor was expecting a call from some outfit that might want her to do a bit of review work, giving me time to make a couple of pots of Espresso having run out of the Starbucks’ instant we’d been subsisting on. Not a bad thing either, given the espresso still tasted better at some tiny fraction of the price of the ‘Via’ sachets. They never called, which she said wasn’t a complete surprise given their earlier patchy communication, but it meant we got an unhurried start.
We took a short detour into Watson Lake town to stock up. Our intended destination for the day was Iskut, a tiny community a few hundred km South on the Cassiar Highway. The intersection of the Alaska and Cassiar highways is just West of Watson Lake. We picked up food enough to cook for a couple of nights, something we’d been somewhat lazy about since before Whitehorse and entirely lazy about while there.
Not far onto the Cassiar we came to a small queue of stopped traffic upstream of a stretch of construction. After a couple of minutes the woman controlling the traffic wandered along the line advising people to turn off their engines and stretch their legs, if they fancied it. There had been a traffic accident between some vehicles working on the construction and nobody yet had an idea of how long it would take to clear, except to say it would be longer than a couple of minutes. The dog and I mounted an expedition into the roadside undergrowth to answer our respective calls of nature. He wasn’t that interested in slow walking in warm sun and bugs, so went back into the car to listen to podcasts and, optionally, watch The Professor play Bejeweled on her phone. I took the opportunity to put the macro lens on the camera and get some shots of roadside plants, plus a few gross pics of the many thousands of miles’ worth of bugs spattered across the front of the FJ. I expect to need at least one full container of bug guts and tar remover to get back to original paintwork after the trip. After maybe 20m or so we got the all clear, and fell into line behind a pilot car for 9km of single file broken pavement and gravel. I noticed the camping gear laden cyclist who’d rolled up to the queue while we were stopped. He was riding the section in the pilot car, bike in the pickup bed. That **** right there is 9 km of cheating, and he’ll need to head back and ride the whole highway sometime in the future if he’s going to feel good about himself.
We broke the day at Boya Lake, taking a short (~1.5km) walk to a beaver dam. Impressive engineering, that, all undertaken with dentistry that probably got made fun of in school. Amazingly clear water, and The Professor did her usual and jumped in it. Or rather, she demonstrated remarkable tenacity in the face of cold water and arced lithely into it via a perfect dive one might expect of someone half her age. [That’s better. Thank you, Sweetie. — EM] We finished up with picnic lunch on top of the Yeti cooler at the back of the FJ. The grocery store at Watson Lake had tasty fresh baked rolls, a bit of a treat compared to the mass production long life stuff I’d been expecting.
Our evening venue was the Mountain Shadow RV park just north of Iskut. We were hoping to get one their handful of cabins, and they did have one available. Still, they notionally only accepted “small” dogs and ours is definitely medium. Seemed like they were about to bend the rules when she asked if he would jump on the bed. I said we should probably just take a campsite if that was a problem. No way he’d stay off the bed all night. So up again with the bug net under the awning. Bit of a godsend given a large and busy local wasp population. They didn’t seem especially angry but were intrusive and all over the place, so a small space to sit without them probably made the difference between a peaceful and pissed off evening.

July 24th — Telkwa, British Columbia
This is was the day we both started to feel a bit impatient to get home. We had a long drive lined up, and still managed to get pissy when looking to stop for a quick hike and finding nowhere to park at the place we’d picked out. Thankfully there was at least enough between the contents of the Yeti and back of the FJ to have lunch in a roadside turnout.
Highway 37 South met Highway 16 at Kitwanga, and there was a strong sense of heading from wilderness toward civilization, in spite of being another day from Prince George, which would be the first town of any size we’d seen in a while. We camped at Tyhee Lake Provincial Park just outside of Telkwa. First time I could remember having concierge service for camping fees, which the sorta-uniformed host stopping by on golf cart to check us in. The Professor was off walking the dog and I was breaking out camp stuff and getting set up to cook, leaving me with $20 to pay for the campsite. The fee turned out to be $27, so I was very glad to find a $10 note I hadn’t known about tucked in with the passports. I hadn’t been looking forward to packing away the awning or walking down into town to find an ATM. Expensive. But the campsite did have plenty of toilets, potable water taps and, surprisingly, hot showers that didn’t have an extra fee.
For dinner I cooked steak, potatoes and my arm. I didn’t serve the limb, but had managed to fumble the steak when putting it in the pan and splashed a good amount of hot oil onto my right forearm. Ouch. The med kit in the FJ got some use (yay) providing burn gel. The Professor wondered if I had some deeper problem: the first time she’d passed by when walking the dog I’d gained a band aid from nicking a finger on the camp hatchet when using the flat side to hammer in pegs anchoring the bug netting around the awning. Second time I had a bandage on my arm. Think she maybe expected I’d accidentally sever my head if she wandered off. Anyway, worst part was that I ended up cooking the steak well done while fumbling with the medical kit. Damn shame, that.
It was warm enough that we didn’t bother with a fire given the warm evening, but I was determined to having something approaching Smores for dessert. The place we’d stopped to pick up supplies before camping hadn’t had big bars of chocolate, but the cashier said she’d heard that Rolos made great Smores. Turns out Rolos slightly melted from sitting in a hot car do indeed make pretty good Smores. Improvise and enjoy Nature.

July 25th — Prince George, British Columbia
Slow start this morning. The guys who’d arrived opposite the previous evening while we were munching down dinner were packed and gone by the time we’d got a cup of coffee down. This morning’s camp host had already parked the golf cart at the end of their site and was raking the gravel neatly. I commented that seemed like a nonsense part of our $27, because who really cared about a zen-scaped patch of gravel on which to pull up a truck or RV? The Professor disagreed, saying that looked like a great job, and she could just imagine putting headphones in and raking gravel around a campsite for a few hours. Huh. I availed myself of different part of the cost by taking a long hot shower. A camp shower or — my pitch to The Professor — a whole RV trailer could make this easier in future.
Today’s drive was shorter, Highway 16 a faster road, and we had a hotel bed to look forward to at the end. We didn’t have anything specific to stop at along the way, so The Professor had picked a couple of different possible hikes to make sure we actually managed to get some exercise. Most of the terrain we passed through looked pretty flat, so I was expecting something long and and undulating. Nope. Not long after the landscape got hilly, we pulled over to a trailhead right off Highway 16. A little over a mile and a little over 1,000ft climbing, temperature in the high eighties Fahrenheit. Should have known to expect that after letting The Professor pick after a day without any activity. The dog was happy to be back in the car and air conditioning afterward, while The Professor jumped in a nearby lake.
Prince George seemed vast to us after the last few days on the road. We found the hotel and they didn’t have the room we’d booked, but said they’d upgrade us to a ‘Corner Suite King’. We were pleasantly surprised that the room really did seem like an upgrade, with a large and comfortable seating area besides the king bed. After three days of camp and the day’s long hike it seemed like the height of luxury, and to be fair was the nicest hotel room of the trip.

July 26th — Whistler, British Columbia
Long drive from Prince George down to Whistler, though much of it was on faster roads than we’d had on the bulk of the trip. We stocked up on coffee and pastries from Tim Hortons before getting underway, noting that we both seemed to quite like the TH muffins and donuts, so it was a good thing we were shortly to leave Canada. The Coast Inn of the North at Prince George had been very comfortable and had excellent service, but the town nearby looked to be struggling.
The route to Whistler turns off Highway 97 onto Highway 99 shortly before Cache Creek, moving to a slower, twistier road but with more in the way of mountain scenery on the way to Pemberton. From there things get a bit more developed for the final section to Whistler. While we were only taking a day this route could easily fill a fun road trip of its own. It’d be a good route to take with a rental car or RV from Vancouver. At one gas stop we met another California-plated FJ. I had a Homer Simpson side-eye moment because while our setup looked cooler, theirs was more long-term-trip-dirty and more dirty automatically wins. We’d just driven from Alaska without washing, so how the hell did they manage to have more cool dirt? Curses.
Whistler was busy, and we’d let ourselves get a bit too hungry to be dealing with busy before being able to unload at the hotel. The compromise was an elaborate dance of pizza ordering, car parking, swapping roles, hotel check in and pizza relay on foot. Still, wasn’t too long before we were in the hotel and pizza solved all. The hotel had a novelty vodka in a room lined with ice, kept at -30F and lit through with blue lights. Customers donned Canada Goose jackets that must have run about $1,500 each to stand sipping vodka. More to the point for us was that they entered and exited into the hotel lobby. Hungry and trying to shuffle through with dog, dog food and bags made that all seem a bit too cool for school at the time. Still, the room was fine and cheerfully had a lazy evening after a long day in the car.

July 27th — Clatskanie, Oregon
Whistler is set up for walking and winter ski-in/ski-out to hotels. We had a quick cup of room coffee, hung the door tag, and went for a walk to find breakfast and more, bigger coffee. The pedestrian center was already bustling with tourists. Some who looked to be on the same lazy schedule, plus a lot who seemed much keener. Plenty of mountain bikers were already covered in sweat and dust, full face helmets dangling from bars above long travel forks. On the other side of the fence plenty of people were assembling and tweaking high end triathlon bikes. The last significant group were Australian accents. By the time we’d finished coffee we’d figured out that the Aussies were in town for a wedding, and the triathlon types were there for a big Ironman race that weekend. The before-breakfast downhill mountain bikers were apparently just part of the furniture.
The road from Whistler to Vancouver traces the coast until it gets to Vancouver itself and was reminiscent of driving south from Anchorage. Better weather and more ferries this time, though. We stopped to walk the dog before we got into the city proper, and then stayed on the highway through Vancouver and on the US border crossing into Blaine, Washington. The queue for the border wasn’t huge, but it moved slowly. With a 90 minute wait it was by far the longest of our four border crossings. The officer asking the usual questions, then asked why there were red and green stains around the windshield. That threw me for a minute as the dog was incessantly barking, until I remembered that was (at least) two different kinds of washer fluid. The FJ had gotten a quick hose down in Fairbanks mostly to get the dirt off everything on the rear cargo basket from the Top of the World Highway, but hadn’t been properly cleaning since leaving California. Thankfully he let us on our way without adding a vehicle search to the long wait.
South of the border put us immediately onto I-5 South. We got gas and a snack, and stopped once more in Everett on our way to Seattle. I was keen to dump and replace the jump starter/USB battery pack which had swollen up and popped open. Something about Lithium Ion battery failures involving fire. That done, we headed into Seattle, where some fans of a podcast The Professor listens to were having a picnic. I’d never been to Gas Works Park even though I’d stayed a few times nearby. I chatted to people and stuffed my face while The Professor caught up with folks, and after a couple of hours we got going.
That evening we were booked into a well reviewed place about 20 minutes West of I-5, most of the way toward Portland. We got there in the dark, which was a novelty after the previous few weeks.

July 28th — Back to the Bay Area, California
The last day of our trip. The Professor did a couple of shifts driving, and I took a single shift in between. As recently as the day before we’d been thinking we’d need a couple of days to get all the way home. In the morning we both felt like just putting in the extra time and getting all the way back to San Jose. Enough time in the car, hotels and tent already, and we’d both been up and down this section of road a few times. The biggest feature of the drive was smoke from the Carr fire in northern California. The fire was a few miles west of I-5 at its closest point around Redding, but the atmosphere was smoky for a stretch at least 100 miles long. It seemed like about the worst weather for trying to contain a fire, with a breeze and the car thermometer registering 100F as we drove through Redding.
Our only stops were for gas and fast food. We didn’t hit any serious traffic, and finally made it into our driveway at about 9:30 that evening. Checking the odometer the next morning, our total mileage was 8,865 over our 28-night trip.

I Have a V-8!! Moderator
30,835 Posts
Very nice! Thanks for posting this.
1 - 20 of 34 Posts