Friday, May 8, 2009

Catch 22

Remember Catch 22, the Book? A good read! Well, how nice! But this has nothing to do with that whatsoever. I'm just borrowing the same word and number for the topic of today's post. Actually, I am referring to Route 22, which parallels route 2 - which is the usual route to Alaska through Calgary and Edmonton. But we decided to follow a recommendation from our friend Gary Skaggs who has driven this territory more times than a goldfish can swim around a glass container in a lifetime. So now that we have logged some miles on Rt 22, I'd like to recommend it to YOU if you are driving to Alaska. In other words, may I suggest you catch route 22! Every once in a while I can't hold myself back and I will call something or another a "must see." I don't really like to do that too much, because what might be a must see for me might be a major drag for you. Then who are you going to be bummed with? Me? So if you like driving the citified route with stop/start, go fast, go slow, pull over and shop for miniature Canadian flags every 10 miles, then by all means stick with #2. But if you want a wildly diversified combination of magnificent scenery, divine road quality, the occasional quaint village, plenty of pull offs at scenic overlooks and downright easily manageable "grades," then I suggest you catch 22!

You will share the ride with the Canadian Rockies on your left and the more rounded marginal mountains on your right the whole day long. It's a trough run! NOT a tough run! If you are lucky enough to catch the light and the snow covers just right...Ooooooo, ahhhhhhhh beautiful. Lots of streams and rivers to view along the way. Time was when I hitched my wagon to a road like this I used to try to figure out where the trout might be hiding behind a rock in that little stream, or in the eddy at the bottom of that nifty set of rips, maybe along the far bank in that deep slow pool. I still do that to a lesser degree, but now I am usually trying to figure out where the gold flakes have dropped out of the flood current or where the old stream bed gravel might just be holding and hiding a worthwhile deposit of the yellow metal, or where the cut in the bank may be worth further investigation. It's all fun to think about and none of it gets in my way until I'm actually on the stream and I know the gold is waiting for the pan...but the fish are swimming upstream and they could just as easy find their way into that same pan! Trout cooked on an open fire in a metal gold pan? Multitasking at its best!

Some info for those following. Camped at Spring Hill RV in Cochrane. Really nice park. Reasonably priced- although on this stretch, always expect to pay a little more that in the lower 48. Not as much supply in the marketplace, especially this early in the season. Full hookups available IF they have sites available. They have only about three left all next week so if you're coming this way, call now. There is a fuel stop at the entrance to the campground- very nice, not terribly commercial like some. Sorry I didn't "catch" the gasoline prices, but diesel was 81.9 L. We were happy to see that. Last time through Alberta in 07 we averaged 118.9L.

Let's play the conversion game with an example. I'll try to come up with a reference chart to put on the side on the dashboard when I can. Today's diesel fill up cost 81.9L, Canadian. There are 3.79 liters per US Customary gallon. 81.9 per liter is Canadian "cents" so the formula goes: .819 X 3.79= 3.10. At 81.9 cents per liter, a gallon of fuel as we non- metric types know it, costs 3 dollars and 10 cents. 3.10 per gallon. But it's not that simple. Now we have the daily exchange rate to deal with. So far so good. 3.10 a gallon is a good price, maybe a bit better than south of the border right now. But that is the Canadian dollar price. To convert that to US dollars at today's exchange rate (depending on your exchange rate source and conversion fees if any, you now need to multiply that times .86. As of right now, the exchange rate is in our favor- not always the case though. 3.10 X .86 = 2.67. So even though the total on my sales slip for one US gallon of fuel says 3.10 a gallon, effectively it only cost me 2.67. That's great! Daddy like! Unfortunately it will more than likely get more expensive as we get further north and at some remote stops it will be sky high. That's OK too. This is a game of averages. And like I have always said: The price of the ticket to Alaska is ALWAYS a good deal...and a good deal more!

One more thought on the fuel, or anything else you pay for with a credit card. Most cards charge a conversion fee for the use of their product in foreign currency. That will vary widely depending on a lot of factors, but be advised, there will almost always be some modest additional fees to contend with and account for in the final analysis.

Back on metric issues. Let's say you're driving under a railroad trestle in Montana and the warning sign advises the height of the clearance is 13 feet 4 inches. No doubt you know whether or not your rig can safely navigate that underpass. But what if you are pulling into a covered fuel stop in Calgary and the sign on the rain fly tells you the clearance is only 4.1 meters? Can you clear that? Are you prepared to figure it out before your air conditioner becomes road kill? Before public humiliation makes you want to crawl under you step cover? There are 3.28 feet to a meter. So yes, you can make it. You have 13.45 feet to play with. Just like with the nice train bridge. What I find is that 13 feet 4 inches makes me feel safe. But 4.1 meters scares the macadamias out of me! It's all a matter of what you're used to. So get used to it!

Wanna print or access an on-line conversion chart?:

Click here......

May I ask a favor. Whether you've been hooked up with us for along time or just joined the party, if you have a friend or a travel companion who might enjoy tagging along for this trip to Alaska, would you please send them a link to the blog...or maybe at least to a particular post that may be helpful. Each Spring run to the north is a new and different adventure. Things change. If we can help one traveler in one way, then we're glad to do it...and maybe we make even one more friend along the way. The way north!


Bob said...

Don't know but would think your headed up the Alcan from Dawson Creek. If you go up thru Whitehorse, Haines Junction, and Destruction Bay be careful North of Burwash Landing. Just came thru there today and the road is under construction with lots of frost heaves and damage. Happy travels. The mountains are breathtaking and a little snow is still coming down.

Greg said...

Thanks. I guess that's always gonna be the worst part of the trip. Is it still gravel or was it at least paved now? Can you say "washboard"?

Linda said...

On the subject of conversions I read in another blog that the simplest way to convert kilometers to miles is to multiply by 6 and drop the last zero.

For example if the posted speed or distance is 50 kilometers you would multiply 50 x 6 to get 300 and then drop the last zero so 50 kilometers is approximately 30 miles. Seems easy enough.

We are leaving from So. California headed to Alaska around May 18. I am enjoying reading your 2007 blog and your current one with notepad at hand to take notes of advice and "must sees." We can't wait to get on the road.

Linda said...
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Mark and Chris said...

I passed your blog on to Dennis and Barb Johnson yesterday, who you may remember from Peace River. They are on their way up the west coast and should be in Alaska by beginning of June if all goes according to plan. We leave Florida on Monday. Anxious to get a move on.