Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Whitehorst, YT - Freightliner 'Campground'

Oof-da. What a night. Even though the room was cool when we got there and the night clerk was put out when we asked for a heater since our room heater didn’t work, we thought the Days Inn was fine. However, the clientele was not. Why is it that kids have to run up and down at 6:00 in the morning? Where are the parents? Why is it that groups have to congregate in the corridor at 4:58 to plan their day? Why is it that the young woman had to sit in the hall to have an angry conversation with the person on the other end of the line? And, why, when Gary asked her to quiet down because there were people trying to sleep at 6:49, she had to begin to talk louder. What is wrong with these people? Self-centered, of course. It’s all about them.

We don’t sleep well in strange places and our lives are a bit topsy-turvy right now. It was not a good night. We were groggy all day.

We got to the Freightliner, talked with our new neighbors and went inside when it opened. We told the manager our story and he asked Andrew to look at our problem. And, he went right to work. Of course, Gary’s work and analysis was the key.

The manager then called Good Sam, or actually, the insurance company they use for our extended care insurance, gave an estimate for the parts and labor and Good Sam turned us down. Huh? Why? Well, the fan motor that failed had 4 bolts that sheared off and Freightliner is not putting that part in any more because it breaks. They now put in a 5-bolt part. Ah, Good Sam calls that an ‘update’, a new part. They will pay for a replacement of the old part if it breaks, which ours did not, or for 4 new bolts to replace the 4 that sheared off so we can put in the old part. But, our deductible is way more than 4 bolts so they will pay nothing.

I’m not kidding. In fact the guy at the other end of the line got quite testy with Gary when Gary was asking about this policy and explaining how we were at the side of the road with a busted fan motor.
But, if we put 4 bolts in again, it will break again.

'Nope, we don’t pay for updates.'

And, that was that - he was so dug into his position that we knew there was no hope. He could have said: Hey, I can’t approve this because this is what the policy says. But, here’s the Good Sam number and you can appeal this. Nope, not his style. No, and I mean NO.

OK, here we are, this part costs $1500 and then we have to pay labor. We’ve paid our insurance premiums for 8 years on this policy and this is the treatment we get. Hmmm.

Obviously we will appeal.

So here we are: Stuck down here in Whitehorse with the Fairbanks blues again. With apologies to Bob Dylan.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Whitehorse, YT - Tow Day

Today’s our TOW DAY. Oh, boy, Can’t wait.

We had some time to wait so were in the clubhouse doing e-mails and other things. I was taking picturs with this camera but Gary was having a hard time figuring out how to download the pictures.

Yes, our roadside assistance plan has gotten in touch with a tow company and the ‘local’ (if 270 miles can be called ‘local’) Freightliner dealer and is on his way to pick us up. Whew, things are getting rolling - well, we’re rolling backwards but at least it’s a start. 1 step back, 2 steps forwards, right?
We pack up the RV and get it ready for rolling down the road. The tow truck comes about 2:00, parks, then rolls the back 3 axles to the middle of the flat bed, lowers the flat bed, hitches the winch to the back axle of the RV and pulls the RV onto the flat bed. Then he rolls those 3 back axles to the end of the flat bed and is ready to roll. But first, Amanda has some warm ginger cookies and a sandwich for him. Funny, he’s been here before. This campground is almost to the end of the worst stretch of the Alaska Highway, right when people are really tired of dirt, rocks, construction, pilot cars and all. Not only are they happy to see a nice campground, some of them, like us, need a tow.



Actually, Gary thinks that Andrew didn't use a winch but pulled it on himself. Andrew is all muscle, all power. And, a soft-spoken guy. 


Andrew told us that he was going to stop at his home for night and wouldn’t drop off the RV at the Freightliner til 8:00 so we get a motel in Whitehorse.

We head out and he follows. He even comes up behind us while we are waiting for a pilot car.
We are faster than he is (I hope) and quickly outdistance him. Soon, it is time for dinner and we find Frosties, with hamburgs, french fries and a big sunny porch to sit on while we eat. I eat but have my camera ready to snap a picture of our RV on the back of the flat bed as it tools by.

But we finish eating and get back on the road. We missed this bridge on the way out but walk across it on the way back.


Then this sight. Right beside the road. Gary drives slowly, I take pictures. Then he gets level with the bear and I’ve got my right hand sticking out of the window snapping pictures as fast as I can, my left hand is rolling up the window as fast as I can and the bear: it’s looking at me quizzically: ‘Gee, Lady, ain’t you never seen a bear before?’

Then we find another loner grizzly.
Then this elk along side the road. Also posing and looking right at us.
Towards the end of the drive we see this rainbow, arching across the entire sky, vivid in its hues, Neil Young is playing on my iPad, we’re full on hambugs and fries. Sweet. Oh, yeah, our RV is on a flatbed tower and we’re in our Jeep. Something is wrong with this picture.


Then we get a call. Andrew, the tow truck driver, is already at the lot, dropping off our car. Oops, can we cancel that motel? Fat chance. Nope, we’re stuck. But we hit the Freightliner to check it our. Another couple, there with their RV waiting for parts and repairs, shows us the electrical outlet and we plug in for the night and head on to the Days Inn.

Big mistake.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Between Beaver Creek & Burwash Landing, YT - Wherever

Today we sit. Sunday and we won’t be able to do much. Maybe a day of rest would be good for both of us. We had a leisurely breakfast. It was, of course, raining. I’ll admit that we’ve had some good weather but for the most part, it has been cool, rainy and dour.

We don our raincoats and head for the walk to the office. Very pleasant office/clubhouse/wi-fi hot spot. This RV park is somewhat in the middle of nowhere but the owner is very conscientious in making it quite special. There is no cell phone service but there is a dial telephone. She has a diesel generator to generate the electricity for the park, she has an artesian well and has to have the water tested regularly. And, I’m sure that she has to have a tanker truck come to pump our her sewage system. But, there is an grass airstrip with a windsock and planes do land here.

She knows the phone numbers of those who live locally, she knows who goes to Whitehorse (240 miles away) on Mondays and she knows who to call is she needs help.

We waled around the property where she has some old equipment from the building of the Alcan Hwy.

And, come equipment from the logging days.
We’re not sure what days these are from.
Here’s an open range.

But the lodge is really nice. Look at this cozy room.


And this owl? Nope, it’s the butt end of an elk.
Gary began his calls to Freightliner for the repairs and to Coach-Net for the towing. We will obviously need a flat-bed tow truck. Here he is at a desk dialing a phone.
I sent some e-mails to cancel some of our reservations.

Great views from outside.
We liked the sign on the door.
Then a couple who are biking from Anchorage to Salt Lake City came in and asked if she had some tea. Yes, and she went to get it. I talked with them about their trip and they asked about our trip. When they were leaving, they asked if they could see our RV. Sure, I said and we walked over.
OMG, we’ve got laundry drying all over the place, undies all over. ‘Give me a minute to clean up’ I asked. Being from Europe where the RV’s are a bit smaller, they were a bit taken with this one. And then I showed the the piece d’resistance: the washer/dryer. Whoo-eee. They liked that feature.

Later, we took our daily walk down the road, Gary banging some rocks together and I was singing and talking loudly. Then we saw a dirt road begging us to follow it. But, it’s eerie going down a dirt road through the trees when you know there are bear around. I’m singing and talking loudly, Gary’s knocking his rocks together, or is it his knees?
We found an old abandoned cabin down one of the small dirt road.

Very nice campground and the owner works hard to make it homey and comfortable.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Burwash Landing, YT - The Cupcake, the Muffin and the Grizzlies

What can I say about today? It began swell, we got out of the park about 8:00, got gas and were on our way north towards Beaver Creek, the last Canadian town before the border. We were tooling along down a beautiful valley between two mountain ranges. Crazy how this valley made such a nice level journey between the mountain ranges. The first town we found was Haines Junction where we stopped and got a picture of the town statue alternately called the ‘muffin’ or the ‘cupcake’. I vote for ‘cupcake’ since it looks like a giant cupcake with frosting mounded on it and sprinkles topping that.
Who do you vote for? The cupcake?
or the muffin?
I don’t know what the artist thought about his life’s work being labeled as a cupcake or a muffin but it makes for a nice story. The town has a long bike trail around it which also heads out of town. Very nice long trail for such a small town.

When you drive throuh an area with a lot of wildlife and you see several cars stopped on the road, you know you should stop because there’s something to see. This is a grizzly jam. A mother with her two cubs just munching along the roadway, playing and them ambling on.

As hikers we’ve always heard that you should carry bear bells, or talk loudly or sing or whatever so that the bears will know that you are in the area and will peel away. We’ve heard that bears don't want to be around humans any more than humans want to be around them.

Well, then, how do you explain this? This grizzly just munched along, looked up at us and them ambled over the highway and into the grasses on the other side. Not intimidated at all and certainly not scurrying out or our paths. Let me think about this - next time we hike.

Again, we had nice views for our journey today. Sometimes sunshine, sometimes showers, and sometimes rain.

Look at this cloud over Lake Kluane.
We also hit the worst stretch of highway on the road up, notorious for its condition. It’s the permafrost and it’s throughout this section of the drive up. construction workers are always working on it and sometimes it lasts for several years, sometimes they redo a stretch the next year. Gary talked to one of the workers and he said he worked on this same stretch last year. On the other hand, he’s worked on some stretches that lasted 4 years.

We are waiting for the pilot car to take us through the construction. When we came up, we stopped at the red light but we saw the group just right up ahead. Oh, shucks, we wanted to join them rather than wait 20 minutes or so but, we had a red light so stopped like good doobies. Note that automation is putting flaggers out of of job. Even flaggers.
At another stretch of the highway, a truck came at us on the other side but was coming so fast in so much sand, that this was our view.

We thought we had it bad - what about those biking the route?
And, then about 5:00 when we have an hour to go, we get an engine light, a beeper and our RV comes to a dead halt.




Gary got under the RV again to check it. This is one of the scariest things I can imagine: he’s under the RV and what if a car doesn’t see us?
Same problem that we had several days ago in Houston, BC. What is going on? And we get out to check it. Gary gets under the machine to check it out and, sure enough, 2 out of the 4 bolts needed to hold the fan motor onto the engine block are gone and our fan is now cocked again.

We unhook the Jeep, but since the road is so rocky, when we see cars coming, we run to the other side of the car and cover our faces so the cars don’t fling a stone or rock at us. When all is clear, we get back to work. I know that there is a nice RV park just a few miles down the road and take the Jeep to check it our. Yes, very nice, and they have a space for us: nice long pull-through close to the entry so we can make it.

I get into the Jeep, get to the top of driveway and see Gary just a ways down. I park the Jeep and begin to walk towards him. I haven’t had a chance to walk today and here it is. I walk  bit and then realize: BEAR COUNTRY, I HAVE NO PROTECTION, I’M ALONE. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB. And I head back to the Jeep, get in and drive down. Gary’s just waiting for the motor to cool enough for him to drive some more. It does and he drives into our site, helped by the little slope at the top of the campground driveway.

And, here we are. Now what? We are in the middle of nowhere, how are we going to get this fixed? How are we going to get it to a repair shop? And, where in the world is the closest repair shop?
Of course I can’t get over shutting our blinds at 10:30 to go to bed when it’s bright daylight out.

Others can’t either, they’re out taking a walk.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Whitehorse, YT - How to use Palmolive

One of the first things we did was to get our window patched. We didn’t want it to get any worse.


Then we went into town, walked along a marvelous path which lined the Yukon River.


We also toured the paddle wheeler, Klondike, they have as a reminder of the founding of Whitehorse. It was the largest sternwheeler on the upper Yukon River. Sternwheelers ere used on the Yukon in the late 1860’s on to supply the towns up river with goods and and to carry the ores back down to Skagway via trail from Whitehorse. It also carried passengers. The Klondike itself was built in 1929 and used as an ore hauler until it was holed and sank in 1936. It was rebuilt the following winter using the same superstructure and machinery salvaged from the wreck. It was relaunched and continued to carry passengers and goods until 1955 as the last sternwheeler in existance.


Inside the main deck of the ship are piles of goods that were needed upriver to last through the winter.




Lots of liquor and beer.


It also carried lots of empty ore bags that HOPEFULLY were going to be used to bring the ore back down the river.


The crew quarters were open for us to see.


But the passenter quarters of both first class and second class were not open since they had some questions about the stability of the upper deck. But here’s Nancy playing quoits on the upper deck.


During the 7 1/2 months of winter when the boats were not running the boat companies hired workers to go up and down the river cutting trees down, piling the wood so that the boats would have fuel to make it up the river in the summer. Here’s a deckhand loading the wood on to the ship. He may look small but he is nothing but a powerhouse. That wood is not light.



It is a stern wheeler - guess why. There are two rudders because the draft is so shallow that a large deep rudder could not be used.


When the bought the Klondike and had to move it through town to get it to the spot on the river where they wanted to display it, they had to tow it through town. What a sight that must have been. (Gary and I have seen a 3-story apartment house being towed through the streets of Des Moines and that was fun to watch.) Moving the Klondike took 12 people 3 weeks using 3 bulldozers. They also used 8 tons of Palmolive Princess soap flakes, slighly dampened, to help the process. Made the boat move more easily through the streets.



Fun visit and an educational way to learn about Whitehorse. But we’re not done.


We walked around town and saw this interesting home.


We visited the airport where they have the world’s largest weather vane. We were reading about it when we both heard a creak. We looked up and, sure enough, it was turning. It really IS a weather vane.



Nice campground here.


Tomorrow we move on.