Tuesday, July 24, 2012

So...You're Moving to Alaska

Who would have thought when we left Alaska almost 10 years ago that one day we would be moving back?  It sure caught me by surprise!  But, then again, I never imagined when we left that we would move 3 additional times before making our second beautiful trek northward.

My Mother-in-Law has taken to calling us the Gypsy Family because one never knows where we'll be living next.  That just makes life all the more exciting ~ going wherever God leads you and staying when He wants you to stay; always knowing you are in His care.

The first day had us driving across Michigan.  We spent the first night in Bemidji, Minnesota.  I really should have taken pictures the first day as the U.P. of Michigan is beautiful to visit.  Hearing, "Are we almost there yet?" only an hour into the first day of driving with 4 children made us ever to thankful to have Grandma along for the journey!

North Dakota

The second day, we drove from Bemidji, Minnesota through North Dakota, and up to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  We debated driving across North Dakota further south to see the Badlands, but decided that would have to be seen at a different time; trip was already long enough.

How is this for a welcome into Canada?  The border crossing we took between ND and Saskatchewan was quite unimpressive.  Oil sands (I'm assuming) projects have the landscape looking completely desolate.  I haven't looked into it yet but North Dakota has similar looking grassy mounds everywhere, many with numbers written in white rocks on their hillsides.  Are those old oil sites as well? 

While there are numerous hotels in Saskatoon (beautiful city by the way), we stayed at a nice Days Inn there with an indoor pool/waterslide. 

Saskatchewan, Canada

Northern Minnesota, North Dakota, and Southern Saskatchewan had many areas of flooding.  Not small flooding, but fields looking like small lakes.  Another big rain storm hit the day we headed out of Saskatchewan. It was only weeks earlier that a state of emergency was declared in the Thunder Bay, Ontario region due to massive flooding (not common for that area).

We have a toddler who loves trains; it was great to see so many trains and tracks along the way!

Another place I didn't bring my camera was to the West Edmonton Mall.  We spent a couple nights in Edmonton.  Staying at a Holiday Inn Express near the mall was a great choice.  The rooms were beautiful (not the "express"-type rooms we expected) and it was the perfect location to enjoy the massive indoor water park and amusement park within the mall.  It wasn't out intention to go to the amusement park, but it actually worked out well.  My Mother-in-Law, our toddler, and I explored the mall while Daddy kept the other three occupied with ride after ride for a few hours.

If you are driving to Alaska and Edmonton is in (or even near) your route you need to go to the West Edmonton Mall indoor water park!  It was only my husband and I who drove to Alaska years ago.  We still had a great time on the slides and in the wave pool.  Of course, with children, it was just a must-go-to place this time around too!

Dawson Creek, British Columbia

Our next night was spent in Fort St. John, British Columbia.  All I can say about that is the prices for hotels are expensive, the hotels are not nice (with the exception of one that possibly only rich oil execs can afford), and the town is very dirty.  Even waitresses we had at a *nicer* restaurant told us that they were only working in Fort St. John because the tips are so good when the boys come to town on break from oil field work.  If we drive back at some point, we will definitely be avoiding this city as an overnight stop.

Mountains are only beginning...  Pictures just can't capture the depth of the hills and the steep grade of the highway!

This is why I should have volunteered to drive back in the northern States and Saskatchewan...  I told my husband it was all up to him.  I know, you can't tell how fast that guy is driving...but believe me, some of those truck drivers are wild.

 Muncho Lake, British Columbia

We loved the quaint cabin and beautiful scenery at this overnight stop!  For just under $200, we stayed at the Northern Rockies Lodge in Muncho Lake, British Columbia.  There are RV campsites available here and several other places along this stretch.  Some of the RV sites people were staying in in Northern BC had the most enviable views; almost made me wish we had an RV...

Be forewarned: the food in these parts is VERY expensive.  Stock up in lower BC and bring a portable camp stove if you have one.  We were told the restaurant at the lodge would be expensive so we purchased hotdogs, veggies, fruit, breakfast items, etc. before we arrived thinking we could cook the hotdogs in the cabin.  Not so... no refrigeration or stoves ~ sorry!  Not to be undone, my husband pulled our waffle maker out of the back of the truck. It cooked hotdogs superbly! :)

At a distance, Muncho Lake is a gorgeous shade of teal blue.

Oh, Canada!

Our travels continue through BC, into the Yukon, and over to Alaska.  More to follow so be sure to check back for more of our story...because you never know:  Moving to Alaska may become your story.

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