Alaska Trip Day 4: Pink Mountain, British Columbia

Odometer:  166,005

166005

Day Distance:  499 Miles

Trip Distance:  2,306 Miles

hwy_start

It feels weird to be checking in for the night when I still need sunglasses to walk outside.  It’s so bright outside, yet it’s 7:23 in the evening.  As we get farther north, the days are very long – which is nice, but also a little dangerous because it encourages you to drive past your limits when fatigued.  Jason and I decided to pit stop here – at the “town” of Pink Mountain, which amounts to nothing more than a motel, restaurant, and gas station.  The address is “Mile 143 Alaska Highway.”  So see if your smartphone’s map app can find such a place.

buffalo_inn

What a great day on the road it’s been!  Our “official” Alaska Highway travels are now underway.  Up until this morning, we’d only traveled what’s referred to as the East Access Route.  This afternoon, upon arrival into Dawson Creek, BC, we’d finally reached Mile Zero of the 1,422-mile stretch of road formerly known as the Alcan Highway.  Hoorah!

This morning it was blustery and 40 degrees Fahrenheit in Edmonton, Alberta when we bid farewell to my friend Cole and met up with another friend, Chris, for a meet-up at a Starbucks on the west end of town.  Chris runs the AcuraConnected.com site and has been a long-time friend since he and I first met at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2012 as invited guests / bloggers of Acura.  He drives a super-duper clean 2005 Acura TSX which be brought out for today’s occasion.  (It even still has protective plastic on the door sills, ooooh!).  It was great to catch up with Chris and thanks to Victoria Day, a Canadian holiday, that he had the day off work and was able to do so.

chris_tobias

Westward we went, to connect with Highway 43 which took us to Whitecourt.  I made small talk with a couple from Alabama at an Esso gas station who are on a 5-week-long RV trip to Alaska.  When the guy told me he and his wife would be putting the RV on a ferry to ride back to Seattle, I told him, “That’s cheating.  You have to drive it both ways!”  He got a kick out of that.  Skies cleared up and by the time we made it to Valley View, we had nearly completely blue skies and vivid green forests on either side of us.  Doesn’t this road just make you want to haul butt?

43

Too bad it’s only a 110 km/hour limit.  Which ends up being around 65 mph.  Yawn!

110

I’d been feasting on a bag of Jack Links jerky for awhile (I somehow managed to eat nearly the entire large bag, actually).  But it was time to get something more substantial for lunch.  We dined in Grande Prairie at a restaurant chain called Tim Horton’s, and it was there that we first started seeing signs pointing us in the direction of the Alaska Highway.  That was exciting for us.   After Grande Prairie the split highway ended and we merged into a two-laner which will remain for the rest of our trip.  We grabbed a snapshot at the British Columbia provincial line and cruised on our way into Dawson Creek.

bc_border

Look how much better today’s weather was than what my dad & I had in 2006.

06

I remembered how limited the services & amenities are up here so I pulled out my Milepost map and tried to figure out how far we should drive today.  I called one motel a couple of hours up the road called the Sasquatch Crossing Lodge which advertises “daily sasquatch sightings.”  Unfortunately, the number rang and rang with no answer.  So I tried Plan B, which ended up being the Buffalo Inn.  The woman who answered the phone told me there was vacancy tonight.  Then she said, “Great, see ya tonight.”  “Do you need my information?” I asked.  “Nah,” she said.  “You’ll be fine.”

check_in

This motel is a story in itself.    Sure enough, when we went to check in, there was a piece of notepaper with a Sharpie-written note with ROOMS AVAILABLE: scrawled across the top, and the front desk attendant – who was at the time doubling as the restaurant hostess – got us checked in to room #112 for $110 Canadian for the night.  “Casual” doesn’t begin to describe this place.  The wood floor is unfinished and the furniture in the lounge area has camo print fabric.  My dad would eat this up.  He’d wear camo head to toe every day if my step-mom allowed it.

beds

Oh, and the water’s brown.  “It’s safe to drink, though” she assured us.  I’m serious.  The toilet looks like it needs to be flushed, but it already has.  At least they’ve made bottled waters available to us for free.

So here we are – I’m over 1/4 of the way through my overall trip, mileage wise.  I’m also about 1,600 songs into a 15,000 song iPod so plenty more listening to do before that selection is exhausted.  Rock on, everyone!

First milestones (kilometer-stones?) this morning:

distances

“Moose Row” – watch out for those bad boys!

moose_row

Cool Northwest Territories bear-shaped license plate I saw on a minivan in Valley View.

windstar_plate

First signs for Alaska!  In Grande Prairie, Alberta.

grande_Prairie

Lunch at Tim Horton’s was some sort of Italian toasted bagel with potato wedges on the side.

tim_hortons_2

Apparently Jason and I are the only ones who didn’t get the memo to back in at the restaurant.  Is that a rule?

tim_hortons

Check out these side-by-sides in Beaver Lodge.  2006 on top, 2016 on bottom.  Also a slightly different angle, but we did the best we could at the re-creation!

beaver_lodge

Next distances:

dist

Finally in Dawson Creek at the start of the Alaska Highway.  Since 1942 this place’s claim has been that it’s “Mile Zero.”

dawson_2

Mile marker in the middle of an intersection in town.

dawson

Doing some route planning on the go with my fold-out Milepost map.

map

We dealt with some steep grades today.  We also observed that painted road lines are largely nonexistent on a lot of stretches of road.  You want to pass?  Dare to?  Go for it.

steep_grades

View overlook at Gundy Road pullout.

view

Here’s where I’d hoped to stay:  Sasquatch Crossing.

sasquatch_ad

Darn, I had to leave my muddy boots and my coveralls outside at the motel!  Haha.

no_muddy_boots

Here’s the exterior of the Buffalo Inn.  When was the last time you saw a Pontiac 6000?

buffalo_inn_2

Dining room

dining_room

Speaking of, I’m heading to that dining room now.

To all who are following along, THANKS, and I hope you’re having as much fun with this as I am!

18 Responses to “Alaska Trip Day 4: Pink Mountain, British Columbia”

  1. AWESOME!!! Love the bear license plate…

  2. Thank you for documenting your amazing road trip. I’ve been wanting to do this for 15 years and waiting for my spine to agree with me. It’s almost like having my dream come true just to see this every night in my inbox.

    • Haha, aw, I’m so glad you’re coming along for the ride! I’m also capturing a lot of short video segments along the way that I’ll publish on YouTube when it’s all said and done. This is definitely a must-do trip and I hope someday you’re able to take it. Meanwhile, thanks for giving me a reason to document it. 🙂

  3. Those first generation Acura Tsxs seem to be all over the place in Canada. I love it! Yesterday, you ran into one at the gas station and today you run into another one. Nice. I plan to drive there one day.😀

    • They are super reliable cars! Yours would easily make the trip over here. What’s the round trip distance from your place in Florida, to Fairbanks?

  4. Add 2500 to your total mileage. Probably close to 10,000 miles. Let’s go. 😀

  5. Oops. It is about 2500 to your house in Phoenix. Muitiplied by 2. If you are doing about 7500 round trip, I would add 5000 for a total of 12500. But does not really matter. With the Tsx, everything is basically around the corner no matter how far it is. 😀

  6. Such an awesome trip! Following along every step of the way.

    Are you noticing any differences between doing the same trip in your ILX vs the Legend? (Ride quality, fuel efficiency, etc)

    • Hey Tim. The Legend & ILX are different cars altogether – I’ve always felt the Legend was a better long-distance cruiser for trips like this because the ride is softer and the RPMs stay low. The ILX is fun for the spirited mountain passes and it’s so tossable. Yesterday I had to shift all the way down to 2nd gear to let the engine brake for me on a very steep downgrade. The car hasn’t been overly fatiguing to drive – or maybe I’m just very used to it by now!

  7. “I’d been feasting on a bag of Jack Links jerky for awhile (I somehow managed to eat nearly the entire large bag, actually)”

    Now I know why you guys decided to drive solo 😉

    I remember Tim Hortons from our trip to BC, in fact one of the things that impressed us so much about Canada in general was the food.

    There wasn’t a place we ate that food wasn’t amazing. Not sure why but no matter where we dined it was always consistently wonderful!

    Hell even the Tiramisu on the ferry was better than what most restaurants around here serve!

    Happy motoring guys!

    • When was the last time you saw a Pontiac 6000?”

      Made the BIG MISTAKE of buying a new STE in ’85 and like most models from the “malaise era” my memories of it are far from fond.

      Can’t recall the last one I’ve seen in Phoenix so I’m truly amazed this one hasn’t completely disintegrated…

      • I know! This particular 6000 was rusting from every nook & cranny, but somehow still surviving. It had studded snow tires on the front. Made me miss my old A-Body Chevy Celebrity just a little bit. You’ve moved on to better cars 🙂

    • Yeah we’ve liked the food here too! So, funny story. Jason and I hit the restaurant here at Buffalo Inn last night. We were the only ones there. I wasn’t super hungry so I only ate 1 of my 2 patties from the burger. Jason went back to the lobby a little bit later to ask them about a low water pressure issue in our room (turns out they were “changing tanks over?”) and he says he thinks the cook was eating my leftover hamburger patty! Haha. I’m about to go see what they have for breakfast. I might just go with something generic like the Frosted Flakes I saw last night.

      • That is funny obviously nothing goes to waste up there… bet if you found a place called the “road kill cafe” even the muskrat would taste good, possibly better than the jerky 🙂

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