Fast and Furious
~Wednesday, June 22, 2022~
Day 738 (Travel Day)
Day 2 of Alaska Trip
Our pace has really revved up, where Canada will be a blur, with long driving days, and short stays in most places, all for the sake of trying to get to “Aleyska”. Gone are the days of 7-night stays until September. It’s hard to believe that in 2022, 105 days of this year’s travels will comprise of Alaska, alone. From the time we entered the border until we re-enter the lower 48, we’ll have had the opportunity to explore nearly 3 months of vastness, more time than we ever dreamed of. And even though it’s getting darker earlier, we’re going north so fast that it will seem like it’s staying lighter later. Our first taste of Alaska will be in the small town of Chicken where we’ll experience the longest day of OUR year.
We were out of the parking lot right at 8:00 a.m. with a small dilemma…..where to stay for the night and where to buy bulk DEF (diesel exhaust fluid). Normally back home, it’s readily available at truck stops right next to the diesel fuel pump. You can also buy it in 5-gallon boxes at most automotive supply stores or Wal-Mart, though it’s more expensive. But in Canada, it appears, at least for now, we can only buy it by the box. The truckers need it, so know it’s out there somewhere. We just need to do a little more research. In the truck, when the DEF level drops to within 500 miles left in its tank, we get a little warning. If it drops too low, the truck will top out at 25 mph, forcing you off any highway, down to a snail’s pace. Normally, a full tank of DEF lasts us 5,500 miles, but with all that we’re driving lately, and the towns coming up that will be few and far between, it’s crucial that we address it NOW!
It’s a 300-mile day to Jasper, Alberta (roughly 7 hours) and plenty of time to settle on a campground for the evening. This was one of the rare cases we didn’t have a clue where we’d be staying. We had 3 choices, some free, but decided on the more attractive of our options…….the national park campground of Wabasso at $20/night, with no hookups but a dump station and water at the facility. Check!
After we paid our $21.00 permit/park pass fee (think of it like a national park fee), we entered the Columbian Icefields Parkway, where, strangely enough, we were one of the few travel trailers out there and virtually no Class A’s (motorhomes). What we did see were a lot of sprinter vans and truck campers.
But I must say, it was sort of strange to be passing familiar Lake Louise (just north of Banff) and the Athabasca Glacier, not being able to stop. I wonder if it’s noticeably receded since our 1989 visit, which wouldn’t be a shock with all that we have going on with climate change? Seeing the huge ice explorer vehicles on the glacier reminded us of our breathtaking experience all those years ago.
The scenery today included the enormous snow-capped Rocky Mountains, glacial rivers with their light bluish/gray/milky hue and as expected, flocks of Canadian geese enjoying their own summertime home. For the other wildlife’s protection, there is fencing along the Trans Canada Highway to prevent them from entering onto it. The fences also funnel the wildlife onto vegetative overpasses so they can cross safely.
And there are forests everywhere……they are healthy and they are endless. And with all the rain they get up here, those forests are dense, unlike the one’s in California. The drive took us up and down several steep sections where Jeff chose to take the truck out of tow assist several times. The tow assist uses the engine for breaking, putting less strain on the brakes. But on long descents, after hearing the engine rev close to 4,000 RPM’s for what seems like an eternity,
you feel the need to give it a little break.
We arrived to our Jasper National Park campground at around 4:00, greeted by a very welcoming attendant. He mentioned there were only a few sites available that would fit our size trailer, which became apparent as we took a look around, though most sites were vacant. The bulk of the 230 sites are geared toward Class C’s, vans and tents. After checking out our options, we settled on A5.
No hookups, but wonderful views, privacy and the peaceful background sounds of the Athabasca River. An added bonus…..free firewood, typical of Canadian campgrounds with the plethora of forests here.