After a Intense May to prepare the van in particular, it's departure time, the real one this time.
Direction Alaska… It was about time we told you about it!
We drive a lot to the west the first days. Having already explored these states, we take the Highway exceptionally to save a little time. Remember we were a bit lost waiting for some parts the preceding month...
Past the city of chicago, then poses a dilemma ... We still have three states to visit in the USA on the 48 continents. They're right there, within range… of wheels… It doesn't take long to turn right and do a little ZigZag to go to Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.
Well, let's be clear it is far from being the most touristy states but the landscapes although different, are just as impressive and beautiful than the ones we already know. And little bonus, the road is pleasant.
We cross hilly fields, something to delight us because we still had in mind the much flatter landscapes of the parallel road on the Canada side. (Route that we had done in the other direction in September 2016.) Fields as far as the eye can see follow one another. Ultra green grass and piercing blue sky, the clouds seem straight out of a cartoon. What could have been a monotonous landscape captivates us!
After several hundred kilometers, that's it, the 48 states! We still can't believe it... Almost 4 years later Popo's first laps, we explored all of the Continental United States!
But the 49th, Alaska, does not wait ...
We continue our journey and pass by Badlands national park.
We visited it in September 2016, in early fall. This time everything is different. The grass is green, and contrasts with the color of hills carved by time.
We spend two days there and do some animal encounters To our delight.
It should be understood that there is not a huge route possible. Going through places already visited is part of the game. We could have just traced the route but the seasons are so marked, the light so different that we feel like rediscovering each place. So we do not hesitate to repeat stops and mini detours, as if to go see again Devils tower (article here). This great monolith, which is none other thanremaining volcano heart whose turn has eroded over time.
Then we take the direction of Montana. It is great to go up north!
We dissect our road map, and decide to make a detour, one more, by the North road from Big Horn Canyon. We knew the southern part but not this one. Ah curiosity when you hold us… A short break at the edge of the water, a snack and here we are again on the way!
Then we leave towards Glacier National Park which is crossed by a magnificent scenic route, the "Going to the Sun Road". When we did it in 2016, a good part was unfortunately in the fog, a height when you hear its name…
We sleep very close to the entrance of the park, by the river to enjoy it the next morning under the sun. But here it is… The next day we return to the park, travel around twenty kilometers and there it is a big failure… The road is closed… It will only reopen on June 22 because it is still partially snow-covered… We are on the 15th, we cannot wait a week… We are disappointed. We made a detour of 120kms for “nothing”. But that will teach us. Usually we always look at the site of the different national parks, to get the best information on the news of the parks and there We did not do it ! It must be said that a road closed until the end of June due to snow, it does not immediately come to mind.
In short, it does not matter, it is only a postponement. "One day we'll see you under the sun Going to the Sun Road !! "
A few laps later, it's time to move on the border with Canada. A formality, if not, you will see in the next journey log, that the customs officer made a little oversight. But we leave you in suspense!
So here we are back in the Caribou country. Our road to Alaska is more or less defined but one thing is certain, we want to go back through the Rockies. Even if this time, we will not stop immediately to hike. (Tic Tac, the clock is ticking for the good season in Alaska). The road to the Rockies alone is worth passing through here. (Article to come)
Beautiful, nature is grandiose, we no longer know where to head and we make some wild encounters ... In addition, this time, we are driving north. Which really gives us the impression of discovering new landscapes. We still make some stops for the inevitable in Banff Park: Lake Louise, Peyto Lake,… In the evening we leave the park so as not to pay for a night camping. The spot is quite nice, with a view of the river and the surrounding mountains. We are alone, no one for miles around and that suits us very well!
The next day, we continue our journey by the Icefield Parkway this time in the Jasper Park (both are pasted). We stop for a few photos facing the Atabasca Glacier. Since our last visit, three years ago, it has melted well… Shocked! When we talk about global warming, generally we talk about future generations, "what are we going to leave to our children, blah, ..." but when we see the change in his eyes and in such a short time, there is something really to worry.
We're not going to remake the world here, it's just an observation and being aware of this is already important in our opinion… Everyone is free to act and react.
But back to our sheep, or rather to our mountain goats and our bears!
Banff and Jasper are known for their wildlife particularly rich. It is not uncommon to see a bear or an elk by the roadside. Here is a small summary of our animal encounters during our crossing of the Rockies before we finally leave Jasper in the rain from the North. Where from there, all is discovered for us!
For several months, we have known that our friends Dana and Stéphane aka Le Monde de Tikal are also heading to Alaska. A certitude, our roads should meet soon and the appointment is made just before Hyder in Alaska, an enclave at the southern tip.
We have been chatting for over a year now on the networks and we have also been part of the same VanLifers collective, the “New Nomads”. So it is quite natural that we meet again, as if we have known each other since always. Strange and normal feeling at the same time!
We decide to ask our camp facing the Salmon glacier. The perfect place to get to know each other better! The breathtaking view of the glacier and the sun sets very late here in this month of June. We discuss, we laugh and we will end up going to bed at 2 am while the sun is still there, even forgetting to eat…
The next day after a little walk and our first grizzly bear of 2019, we take Whitehorse management in the Yukon. Our first step, on the long journey we have planned in the Canadian North West.
The kilometers are linked, landscapes follow one another and amaze us.
The road is punctuated by photo stops, 4-legged encounters and bivouacs.
One evening while we were by the fireside with Dana & Steph chatting and toasting some marshmallows, a noise arose between the vans. Time to realize and look up, a moose and her little one literally pounced on us! A meeting that surprised everyone. They did not expect to see us there and neither did we. We got up from our chairs and the two deer forks on the left, along the lake. The meeting was brief, almost unreal… What party !
The attractions, as well as there are not many towns and villages on the road. I have to say that the landscape is self-sufficient and that here nature reigns supreme. Human presence is rare along the only two roads that go north.
But one of the essentials is without a doubt, Watson Lake. On the Alaska Highway, this small town allows you to restock but it is also and above all a place rich in meaning for all travelers who head to "The Last Frontier" (Alaska).
Here, much more than a curiosity, the "Sign Post Forest" is the testimony of all mopers, the dreamers, adventurers, travelers who have been there one day. An emotional place where everyone leaves a little something, a small memory. If you go there one day, you may find with a little luck, a small testimony of our passage…
The reserves filled, we accumulate a few (thousands) of kilometers until our second stage, Dawson City, the city of gold seekers! A city that has kept its cachet of yesteryear, and that immerses us in a whole different century. The buildings are made of wood, it looks like a John Wayne movie, and we expect to see at any moment, a CowBoy land on his horse, his 6 shots in the belt.
But apart from folklore, Dawson City is also and above all the start of the Dempster Highway. A mythical road, a road of the extreme, a road which deserves and which will take us to the edge of the Arctic Ocean… 1475km round trip of dirt road just that ... But that is for the next Road Book ...