I left Grande Prairie quite early and drove to Dawson Creek, mile zero of the Alaskan Highway. I took all the obligatory pictures of the sign post, looked around in the museum, and watched the movie of the construction of the highway back in the early 40’s. I hadn’t pictured Dawson Creek as so large. In my mind I thought it was a small town, but it is really quite a large city with all the big box stores and fast food. I may have purchased a coffee at Tim Hortons.
I was not impressed with the highway north out of Dawson Creek. All along the road for a hundred miles is gas and oil industry. Every side road I looked up had cleared out areas of pipes and tanks and buildings. I think I read in the Milepost where taxes from the gas and oil industry are helping to fund the Alaskan Highway. The industry must be booming because there were even signs up asking for workers for the oil fields.
Because it was Sunday I figured there wouldn’t be much truck traffic. I was wrong! Semi trucks carrying pipes, tanks and machinery were the majority of vehicles on the road. There must be good money to keep those trucks rolling 7 days a week. And the drivers have no patience for us vacationing RVers driving the speed limit.
The road crossed the Peace River shortly north of Dawson and I got my first taste of 8 and 10 degree hills. I wanted to take a picture of the grated bridge but there was no place to pull off. After about a hundred miles, the oil fields thinned out and I met few trucks.
I put a few liters of gas in Minnie at a campground near Pink Mountain. The gas cost $1.30/liter but I wanted to make sure I had enough to reach Fort Nelson tomorrow. It is a sinking feeling to be on this desolate highway and be low on gas.
The road keeps getting rougher the further I go. I lost the divided highway a few miles past Grande Prairie. Now I have to rely on turnouts and passing lanes to let the locals get by. They put up little signs by the road that look like bumps to let you know if the road is bad up ahead. It seems to me that the regular road is just as bad as the signed places but I slow down anyway.
I found a side road at about milepost 200 where I will spend the night. I can see snow covered mountains off to my left, so it won’t be long now until I’m in them. The weather has been beautiful – sunshine, light winds, and perfect temperatures. With the good weather and sparce traffic, once I got past the oil fields, I kept going further than I like. I hope I find a campsite soon where I can take a few days to rest.
On a good note, I saw three moose today munching on bushes along the side of the highway. They are fun to look at but nothing you want to run into. They are a big animal.