near Fort St. John, British Columbia
Wednesday, June 20, 1973
And, finally, on to the Alaska Highway (or, as I spelled it, Hiway — I think that was a deliberate misspelling, probably from seeing it on signs along the way).
The first interesting thing we saw, however, happened not long after we left Whisker’s Point early in the morning, and that was a bobcat dashing across the road, which was very exciting.
We stopped for lunch in Dawson Creek, and to take pictures of the “the Alaska Hiway begins here” sign. As I recall, there was also one of those many-pointed signposts with each arrow labeled something like “New York City, 2783 miles” or “Beijing, China, 9705 miles.” By the way, I just used Google maps to get that last number, and the directions include the words “Jet Ski across the Pacific Ocean.” Also, “Kayak across the Pacific Ocean.” The first to Hawaii and the second on to North America. I guess Google wants people to use a variety of modes of transportation.
But I digress. Even in 1973, the first few miles of the Alaska Highway were paved. We stopped in the town of Fort St. John for groceries. We stopped for groceries (which I apparently recorded faithfully) frequently, I suspect because the refrigerator in the trailer was pretty tiny. At least we didn’t do what we did on another trip a couple of years later and forget to latch the fridge shut. This destroyed a jar of pickles and a jar of strawberry jam when the door swung open around a curve and they fell out. That combination is one of the nastiest to clean up on record. Just the smell was bad, and the stickiness was even worse.
We camped just north of Fort St. John at a campground called Hillcrest, and discovered another unusual aspect of traveling the Alaska Highway back then. We met up for the first time with several other groups of campers who we would see night after night at the same campgrounds as we all traveled about the same distance every day. A couple of the families had kids of varying ages, which I happily noted in my diary. It gave me people to hang out with in the evenings.
We hadn’t run out of pavement yet…