Sunday, August 8, 2010

Whitehorse Adventure - Day 6: Charlie Lake to Fort Nelson

Day 6 (372 km traveled) - The highway between Charlie Lake and Fort Nelson is the most isolated stretch of highway that we have driven so far.  This is a concern to us since we are not getting great gas mileage towing the trailer with the 4Runner.  We are averaging about 10 mpg (23 L/100km) and can travel about 290 km on a tank of gas in order to stay within the "Dave Comfort Zone" (thus not causing undue stress to our driver).  Since the gas stations are fewer and farther between they are also becoming more expensive, but we do not have the luxury of being too picky where we buy our gas.

Several of our stops were at the historical mileposts on the Alaska Highway. This is based on the original markings along the Alaska Highway.  Often they are accompanied by stories about what the highway was like or how it was constructed.  Our lunch stop was at historical "Mile 148" which was once an incredibly steep hill commonly called Suicide hill.  According to 2008 edition of the The Milepost (a comprehensive mile by mile guide to the Alaska Highway) there was once a sign at the top of this hill warning travelers to "prepare to meet thy maker".  The picture on the plaque there showed that the original hill looked to be at a +20% incline and was probably only one lane wide!  Glad there have been a few highway improvements over the past 60 years or so.

The trip was uneventful and we arrived in Fort Nelson around 3pm.   There are only two crowded camping areas in town and both are RV parks where the trailers are so close you can practically touch your neighbor.  We camp at the Westend RV park because out of the two it appears to have a few more trees and is also pretty close to the historical society's museum.  It also worked out in our favour that there is a brand new water (spray) park a short walk from the campground.  After setting up, the kids and I head over to the spray park to cool off.  Dave follows shortly after and I think that him and I had even more fun playing there than the kids do (read: we don't cry when we get water sprayed on us).

One very cool bonus was that the snowbirds (canada's military aerobatic team) were performing somewhere close by and flew over our campsite several times in different formations.

After dinner we headed over to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum.  It looked like it a tiny museum that would only take 15 minutes to see the entire collection.  Instead it was a comprehensive museum that included a large collection of antique cars, several outbuildings including a trappers cabin and a 1940's house, a large generator (which was once responsible for powering the entire town) and many more pieces of old equipment.  It was the true surprise of the day and most unexpected.  Unfortunately for us we got there only 30 minutes before it was closing so we had a rather rushed visit!

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