On Thursday the truck wasn’t done and on Friday we were waiting on pins and needles to hear the outcome. It was a big deal because we didn’t want to lose the whole weekend in travel so around 1:30pm we decided to drive into Wasilla on the hope it would be done when we got there. Bill and Kelly had to work that day, but they were willing to meet us in town for a farewell dinner, so even though we knew we might have to come back on Saturday we hoped it would get done in time. I half expected the truck to still be in the lot when we got there, but it was up on the alignment lift. Barb, our service coordinator, took us right back and we talked to Mark our technicians. He was excellent and explained to Lee that the AC work was done, but the alignment could not be 100% completed without several more hours work. He had fixed a very serious problem with the tire rod, however, which was good as it was so loose it could be moved by his hand. Since the issue we were having would not increase tire wear, we chose to forgo the rest of the alignment and took the truck “As Is”. We also discovered that the AC failure is very rare (the tech had never seen it until they had two different cases in the last 30 days) and the special machine needed to repair it had just been delivered to the dealer. It turns out that there was another truck with the same issue and he had waited 30 days for the repair because the dealer was getting the machine. So in an odd way we were lucky, because from a timing standpoint it could have been much worse.
What bothers me about the entire situation is the complete lack of transparency. Instead of just explaining we were number 2 in line and only one tech could complete the work, they told us stories about waiting on the warranty company for approval. They also waited until after the AC work was done to check the brakes (they were 5-6 and fine thankfully) and the alignment. The whole situation was extremely frustrating, but this is how I am choosing to look at it. If the AC had not gone bad we might have blown off getting the alignment. If we hadn’t gotten the alignment done, the tire iron problem would have gone undiagnosed. If we had lost the tire iron in Canada we would have lost steering and seriously could have been killed. Those roads are no joke. So its possible that the entire situation just saved our lives. It cost us $372 in labor (the alignment man hours were not covered), but that is a small price to pay to avoid a catastrophic incident. Obviously that is all supposition, but if you believe in a higher power (which I do) it’s not that big of a leap. Either way it’s done and in enough time for us to make the beet harvest.
I did have to completely reroute us though and give up Banff and Jasper. I am less upset than I though I would be about that because after seeing pictures of those areas it is definitely not a place I want to rush through. Given the choice I would always rather skip an area that special than spend a few moments there, and they definitely deserve dedicated time. So we are driving down to Edmonton and then across through Saskatchewan and Regina then crossing in Regway which is roughly due north of Sydney. We have a couple of days built-in for safety and our stops are all Good Sam approved parks with some level of wifi supposedly. Since we are driving long days, Lee asked that we didn’t have to mess with boondocking and since we have money in the budget for campground fees I agreed. The route is the shortest distance between two points, but at least there is a new section of Canada we will get to see. I hate driving back over roads we have been on. My plan is to keep track of what happens as we go and then post as able along the way.
The Tok Cutoff was better than we expected. A lot of the work had obviously been done and even though our speeds were between 40-45mph they weren’t the 15-20mph we experienced coming in. Because I felt more confident this time around we switched drivers at every break. This worked out pretty well and also gave me a chance to practice driving on a few 6-7% grades. We stopped in Tok and gassed up stopped to take our picture with the scary monster metal thing. Everyone has been taking that picture (my personal favorite was when Jim and Barb put their dog Daisy on him) but I think he had enough because right after we took our picture Lee dropped his favorite drink cup and broke it. Not cool..he loved that cup and I think the timing was totally suspicious.
I was driving when we crossed the border and that went off without a hitch. What’s your license plate (Lee had to tell him), how long will you be in Canada (8 days going straight through), Liquor or tobacco (personal use only), any guns (No) other weapons (no). That was it. It was pretty easy. Despite the lost hour when we crossed into Pacific time we arrived around 4:30pm at Discovery Yukon Lodgings and RV Park. I liked the park very much, long wide full hookup pull-throughs and only $30 for us with the exchange rat and Good Sam discount but the electric was pretty weak. Worse they had a large generator running 24/7 to make the power and despite the beautiful setting it was loud. We couldn’t hear it inside with the double paned windows, but no stepping outside without the noise. Ruined the park for me.
The next day we headed to Whitehorse and early on got very close shots of some swans. I was really happy about that but the rest of the day was full of animal sightings NOT captured on camera. This is pretty unusual for us, but event after event conspired to not allow pictures. First we were driving around 8am and saw two birds by a carcass in the road. One took off as we came close but the other was slow to launch and the next thing you know a juvenile eagle slammed into Lee’s side view mirror hard enough to push it against the truck. He pulled over when it was safe to do so, but I wouldn’t walk back to where the eagle might have been. If it was injured I wanted no part of that. They are BIG, by the way. Next we were in a pilot car line by destruction bay and we passed a huge, beautiful bobcat lynx, my first sighting in the wild, sitting on the side of the road watching the cars go bay. Because we were the vehicle immediately behind the pilot car we couldn’t stop, and it about killed me. So pretty and close. We did get to take a picture of the giant gold pan though. Missed that picture on the way up.
A little while later when I was driving we saw a coyote drinking down at the bay. I stopped, but not fast enough and although Lee walked back to try to get a shot it was headed the other direction and he couldn’t get close enough. And later still, again around a construction area, we saw a female moose. Just no safe place to pull over. To be clear I would rather have animal sightings that no sighting at all, but the lack of pictures, particularly of the Lynx was a bit of a bummer.
We did get to see some Tardust at one of the gas stations we stopped at. And before you ask I have no idea, but that pantsuit was something so I had to take a picture. Lee said I should ask, but my response was if you are going to wear something like that, you should expect folks to take your picture.
The drive around Destruction bay was kind of rough and the road got bad again near Whitehorse, but again not nearly as bad as when we came out. We reached Hi Country RV Park a little before 3pm and unhitched so we could run into town. We didn’t see Whitehorse at all when we came down (although we did stay at this park), but despite what I have heard about it, I personally was not that impressed and the main reason I chose this park was because you could pay ($8) for unlimited and fast wifi here in May but they have since discontinued that program. Really dumb. Now it is 90 minutes free per device and nothing else so I am writing this as quickly as possible. We did run some errands though and it was nice to get in early, plus we had the Canadian version of KFC for dinner. No biscuits or mashed potatoes available but every dinner comes with fries and gravy. The chicken tasted great although was much smaller (I am guessing it’s not modified) and it was reasonably priced after the exchange rated of $1.2 is taken into account. Everything but gas has been reasonably priced with the additional 20% off, but that is running us $3.29 a gallon after discount. Yikes. I am gathering lots of good data though and will report out at the end. So here’s the pics and I’ll hopefully have more animal pictures next time I am in wifi range.
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