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6000 Kms of Glory

Leaving Beaver Creek behind, I set off on my journey back to Ontario. Along the way I would be stopping in Whitehorse, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Wawa.

Joining me on my cross country journey was my buddy Ryan Johnny, a Beaver Creek local. Here he is at the start of the Alaska Highway, which winds through Beever C 1800 km later.

Before setting off there was a little send off in town. We sang karaoke at a border guard's house. It was really ingenious: you just hook up a guitar amp to a mic and then look up on Youtube a karaoke version of a song and BAM, you have a karaoke machine! And customs officers are great to celebrate with with Youtube karaoke!

The next day we set off, two hours late, just after Beaver Creek Coffee. The trip to Whitehorse was uneventful except it was gorgeous outside.


Pulling into Whitehorse we ended up going to Walmart and RJ ended up meeting a couple friends and he went his way. I met up with Tanis and her room-mate Deaner. Tanis and I had a couple days to kill so we decided to go camping. Deaner offered us a 22 and some rods and suggested we find some grouse and fish up north.

Find grouse we did. Tanis wasn't impressed with me having a rifle (even a little one) to play with, but I thought it was fun (and thank Harper for not having it registered hehe). Finding a bird, it out witted me and flew away into the bush. The second bird wasn't so lucky.

Yukon is a beautiful place, but the winter was coming on. It had been fall for a month and it had snowed a couple times already. I picked up RJ and headed to Edmonton. We passed the signpost forest on the way out. Its exactly what is sounds like:

Driving down the Alaska_Highway into BC there was a HUGE neon sign (almost as if it came from Reno) warning of Bison on the Highway. Sure enough about 100m later was the first majestic wild animal I've ever seen. It is an amazing driving into BC. Even though we were driving through the night, with winding mountain roads with LOTS of wildlife: Elk, moose, black and grizzly bears, countless deer, foxes, US talk radio, sheep and porcupines, the last of which were actually the biggest hazard because their quills make them completely fearless of anything, including cars careening down mountain roads at night. Somewhere inside BC we visited Liard Hot Springs. These are very large for a natural hotspring, and even at 12am (when we passed through) there were about 15-20 people in them, but more than enough space. I HIGHLY recommend these hotsprings, they are very nice with a wide range of temperatures (cool to extreme), clean, and the nature around them has evolved to the hot waters and warm wetlands, creating a localized southern BC microclimate in the far north of BC.





About the car: our chariot was my trusty '96 Subaru Legacy. It carried me all 6000 km, with no cruise control. It has loads of character: no horn (sometimes), one headlight (sometimes), lots of other electronic gremlins, some vibrating transmission linkage, blown rear suspension, a bug in the engine that my old mechanic said was basically a ticking time bomb two years ago, and the bug which killed my power steering which, ironically, improved fuel economy. Combined with (slightly) overinflated tires, I've become a bit of a hypermiler, achieving about 32MPG on a car that's supposed to only achieve 28. BUT, perhaps the old, overinflated tires were the reason one of them blew up outside of Grand Prairie, AB.



The seemingly bulletproof car had been wobbling a little. Turns out my tire had a bubble (I taught RJ how to drive standard so I could look at it), but since I had been driving on it for 7 hours I might as well keep going the 5 more to Edmonton. At this point I had been driving about 24 hours straight (I learned watching Top Gear that at that point you might as well be drunk) so I judged this a good idea. 30 minutes later my tire blew up, I pulled over, pulled out half my stuff so I could get under the spare out, we got the old tire off (since it had sharp things sticking out it poked me and I dropped it down the bank and it bounded over an electric fence... but I got it shock free), and put it in the car. I had to leave a few things at the side of the highway since we lacked space for it. Rolling back three hours later my stuff was gone. I was pissed, but also oddly relieved to get rid of more stuff. And I don't trust Albertans.

So off we set to Edmonton on a fresh set of tires, after about 35 hours of leaving Whitehorse. Again I dropped of RJ (the last time I would see him since he had to go back to Beaver Creek for a funeral) and I hung out with my friend Olivia and her work friends. In Edmonton I also met up with my GIS friends Ararat, Janet and Tony and went camping in a park in the city, which was surprisingly good, being in the city and all.

I spent a few more days in the city with Olivia. We went to West Edmonton Mall. I went on the big roller coaster and almost blacked out from the G-forces... I guess I'm getting too old for that sort of thing hehe. Also checked out a few things in the city walking around and applied to some GIS jobs, which still seem to be hard to come by. Owell.



After Edmonton I set out again, this time to Winnipeg to hang out with my brother and his girlfriend Megan at their very cool new hows. On the way I stopped in at Rainbow Beach provincial park and smoked a cigar. It was a little out of the way on the trip to Winnipeg, but I thought it would be more scenic. Turns out there are very few scenic places in the prairies in Manitoba - its flat and there are farms and trees and lakes.

Winnipeg however was more exciting. Me, Mitch and Meg went to a nice local restaurant and I meet my boys Noogs and Sop from Beaver Creek and we caught up on all the Beaver Creek gossip that had ensued since the end of the summer. They invited me and Mitch to go play volley ball the next night. That was so much fun, but I knew after about 4 hours of it I would be sore as hell the next few days, but I didn't care because it was great. Hopefully I'll end up playing some more soon.

Leaving Winnipeg I drove to Thunder Bay was fairly uneventful. I was good to be back in the forest again. I wanted to go swimming in a lake but it was freezing. Also I passed a burning truck:


I pulled into Thunder Bay after a day. I had dinner at my friend Kristen's parents place just outside the city, and her dad had an actual driver's seat set up for Forza Motorsport, complete with electric power steering to simulate how the steering would actually feel and paddle shifters and 3 foot pedals, pretty slick.


Later that night I met up with my old friend Jess. It was Saturday night so we went to town to see some of the old bars we used to go to. I was limping because of the toll the volleyball took on my legs, and Jess had a tree cutting accident so she had a bad wobble. Our injuries combined with the 6 years since we were undergrads at Lakehead U made us feel old, but it was good to be back. The down town of the city is nicer now. The next day we met up with another old friend Brittany and we strolled around down town and the waterfront and appreciated the excellent weather and talked about how the job market is hard.



I met my old friend Aaron. He had just quit his job and was planning on going on a North American road-trip in a couple weeks. So on Monday me and him went out for coffee and do to nothing much on his first day of 'retirement'.

Later that day I got in touch with Zack and he told me about a sea kayak instructor-candidate training/qualification session that needed volunteers to the instructor-candidates could be tested. It was conveniently in Wawa, on my way at the same time I was going to drive through the next day.

On the way to Wawa I stopped in at Pukuskwa National Park, and I'd reaaaaly like to stay there some time and go kayaking along its shores... Well, onto Wawa.

I got there at night. My previous experience of the place was merely some gas stations and a big goose. But when you get closer to the Lake... The first thing I saw was Scenic Falls, who's waters are connected to the flood control system on Ontario and are thus prone to massive, life threatening changes in water flow, without warning.


The next day I found myself at Naturally Superior Adventures to be the sea kayak instructor-candidates' guinea pig. the resort is found on the lake on a peninsula where the Michipicoten River flows into Lake Superior, and for the next few days I was basically living in a series of Group of Seven paintings, in all of the splendor of the shores of the lake in the fall could offer. The kayaking itself was pretty boring, just doing things I already knew, but I did learn a few things, and we ended up going kayak surfing, which really was a blast!


For more pics of Naturally Superior Adventures and Lake Superior, go to the bottom of this post.

Leaving Wawa, I decided to take a little different route back to Dundas. It's a road that goes from Wawa, straight east to Chapeau and keeps going. It turns into more that 100km of gravel highway of Sultan, it cuts about an hour from the trip to Sudbury (depending on how fast you go ;), and my all-wheel-drive Subie was up to the challenge. I saved an hour and a half. I won't tell you how... I passed through the town of Sultan, it was rainy and provided as real sense of Twilight Zone-ness as there definitely was evidence of recent human habitation, but absolutely no movement...

Once back on the pavement I finished my last 700 or so km without a hitch, glad to be back in one piece. Mostly.













Here's the route I took:
Turns out it was all more like 6,800 km! To see the data, please message me. Cheers!



Comments

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Sounds like an amazing trip, Matiss. Thanks for posting this.
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