The adventure continues, and it has been an adventure!
swan in Michigan
My high hopes of having Internet access died shortly after leaving Soo Michigan. Apparently from Saskatchewan to Alaska- our cell phones have no Internet coverage, which is not what we were told, so we'll have to find out why that is happening once in Tok when we can walk into the office there and speak with the people instead of trying to talk to them on the road. This is the first WIFI connection I've had at a campground since we left Michigan.
We made it onto the Alcan yesterday - after a few hiccups. We drove straight from the Soo, to Wakefield Michigan, then onto Arvilla North Dakota at the Turtle river State Park, which is a great place to stay. There we discovered that our big camper can fit into some forest campgrounds, which was impressive.
When we were setting up camp, a hummingbird came by and landed right on me! It's the first time my hair has ever attracted a hummingbird. He didn't stay too long once he realized I wasn't what he thought I was.
We smoked our rear brakes in Duluth because the electrical cable for the 5th wheel came undone, and the truck was breaking for the entire load, truck and 5th wheel - obviously the new brakes we got before we left home, worked. We could smell smoke and when we realized in a panic it was us, we pulled over as soon as we could and ran outside. I ran back into the 5th wheel to check but Kevin knew right away when he got out on his side of the truck it was the brakes, he could see the smoke coming off them. We found the loose cable and hooked it back up and started to drive again to get the air around the brakes to let them cool.
The next night we were in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan and stayed in a nice place but it wasn't our style, too many people, too much noise. We were happy to get on the road the next morning. Driving through Saskatchewan there was a lot of water in the fields, so with nothing else to look at I had fun seeing all the strange ducks in the big puddles, a dozen or so of them I've never seen before.
Next night was Lloydminster Alberta, where I cooked fresh bread and Kevin took the truck into town to get the oil changed. We usually change our oil in Lloyd on our trips up. When he went to start it after we had unhooked it from the 5th wheel, we noticed it started hard for some reason. But it started.
Then there have been the mice. Lots of mice, since our first night. We thought we had all the mice out of here from the winter when they got in, but apparently no. Our count is about 8. One of them is living a new life, illegally (since he's Canadian) in North Dakota.
Thankfully they are not loose in the 5th wheel, just up in the air conditioner vent where they cannot get out of - clearly there is a hole up there with a big sign that says "free ride North" on it.
The next morning we left Lloydminster and the truck started fine after it's oil change. We drove a ways and then stopped so I could go in the camper and make us some breakfast. I quickly put together some hard boiled eggs (I had made earlier) and toast and within a few minutes we were back in the truck and ready to go again with our food. The truck wouldn't start. It was cranking but wouldn't fire. The third try it started, but hard. We were in some teeny town without even a gas station - thank heavens it started.
Away we went, a little concerned however. That night we made it into Whitecourt Alberta, where we were planning to stop anyway for a night. We stop in Whitecourt most trips except for the last one, in 2010 we avoided stopping here because of bad memories. In 2009 we left Whitecourt with our truck and slide in camper on a flat bed trailer and we were towed all the way to Grand Prairie when the truck died and the local Ford dealer refused to see us for a week or more. Don't ever buy a truck without a good warranty, that's all I can say! The tow alone would have killed us. It's 173 miles from Whitecourt to Grand Prairie.
But this time, we decided to stop. It was a Sunday and we knew the truck might have a problem, so we thought we'd try and see if Ford would bother with us this time since the oil boom has calmed down a bit and they don't have the same work load they did in 2009, now. Plus I had other reasons for stopping, a fellow blogger, Ian from Life on an Acreage, lives in Whitecourt. He had left a comment on the blog a while ago saying to stop by for coffee on the way through, if we had time.
After we unhooked at the campground, we let the truck cool off and Kevin started it again to see if it would start. It did, it started just fine. Once we got settled, and since I had no Internet connection I went down to the campground office and asked the woman where I could find some WIFI... apparently not anywhere nearby the campground, so I figured I'd give the phone book a try. It's not always a sure bet these days since a lot of people are not listed and then of course - I couldn't remember if I knew his last name or not. I thought I did but I couldn't remember. I knew the first letter.
So I called the only Ian I could find that might fit and his wife answered. She told me he was outside in the garden but she'd take a message for me. I asked her if he had a blog and she said yes, so I knew I had the right one. I left a message with her that we were at the Lions Club campground and my cell number and Ian called a few minutes later.
After dinner he came by and visited with the boys, then he took us on a tour of Whitecourt. Whenever we've gone through which has been a dozen times, we just drive straight through, so we've never seen much of Whitecourt other than the main highway.
We then went back to Ian's farm to meet his furry family and his wife and have some coffee. We ended up staying and talking until 11 PM! With the time change for us, our bodies are out of whack, we think it's later mind you, but it's also daylight longer here already, so it's quite confusing. And the conversation and company was good. Ian drove us back to our 5th wheel and said if we were still in town tomorrow to give him a call.
Monday morning we decided we were not going to take the truck in, since it was starting fine at this point. We still had Grand Prairie and Dawson Creek B.C. ahead of us, both of which have Ford dealers we know and have dealt with. So we headed into Whitecourt with the truck and thought we'd pick up some supplies before we hooked up and headed out. We ran into Global Pet foods to look for Wellness dog food - Norman is on the low cal small breed which is very difficult to find. They didn't have it, so we got back in the truck and tried to start it up. No go. It cranked but it would not go - it was done.
Then we called Good Sam road service and got them to send us a tow truck, which towed us, thankfully just the truck, into the Ford dealer.
I called Ian and bless his heart, he took us out to finish our errands and was such a great help. Tuesday morning we got the call the truck was fixed, but it was too late to leave town and get anywhere where we knew we could camp, so we just finished some extra errands and when we got back to our 5th wheel, Ian was there and we chatted some more!
It was such a treat to get to meet a fellow blogger and Ian is a really great guy.
We hit the road Wednesday morning and said goodbye to Whitecourt. Twenty eight miles North of Whitecourt, we were driving along through the swan hills and I was taking a sip of my coffee... when... kamboom! Something blew. It sounded like a tire, the sound was right in front of me and after the boom there was the distinct sound of rushing air. We pulled over right away. Kevin heard it too but knew it wasn't a tire because the truck never reacted. He opened the hood of the truck and could hear the noise but couldn't isolate where it was coming from. So we got back in, and started to drive away. Right away we knew what it was. Something was wrong with the turbo, the truck had zero boost. We were crawling along. We knew we had to turn around but doubted the truck could make it back to Whitecourt with no boost pulling 14000 pounds behind it. But we figured we'd give it a try. Going over the swan hills we were creeping over at 8 miles an hour. It was unreal. We kept waiting for the truck to just stop but it didn't, it dragged this 5th wheel all the way back into Whitecourt. It took us about an hour to get back into town, but we made it, without a tow, without having to drop the 5th wheel on the side of the road... and we limped into the Ford dealer again.
They took us right in and had a good idea what it was. It took five minutes to fix. A stainless steel clamp and the rubber elbow on the turbo inter cooler tube, broke apart. They replaced it and we were on the road again. We had got up at 6 AM to get on the road super early and we ended up not getting out of Whitecourt until 10 AM, but the truck pulled good yesterday, and we were grateful to Ford in Whitecourt for getting us going quickly again.
Last night we pulled into the Rotary park here in Charlie Lake which is just on the North edge of Fort St. John's, British Columbia, we stay here most trips if we can. It's a nice park and the money goes to a good cause. It's been pouring rain and about 50 degrees or a little above Fahrenheit for the past few days. The last time we were here in June of 2010 there were quite a few campers, this year there are about five. It's pretty slow. Not many tourists on the road right now, just a few travelers and lots of trucks and oil patch people.
Today we will head up the Alcan and hopefully we'll be in Fort Nelson tonight.
As you can see, the dogs find camping pretty rough.
I'm sorry there are no captions on the pictures in this post right now - but I've got to run. It's time to hit the road again as we've got a long day of driving ahead of us, but I wanted to get this post up just in case I don't get connected again. Hopefully today we'll see some critters - so far we've seen about 7 (no joke) coyotes, some Whitetail deer and a couple Mule deer, but that's all. Maybe we'll see some bears or some moose now that we are on the Alcan.
All for now, time to hit the road....