Day 42 - Sunday, May 12 - Milepost 3990 - Birdcount 202 - Fort Nelson, BC

(SF's Journal).  As we pull out of Dawson Creek I am amazed we are still getting a signal for our cellular phone. As I take my stint driving through the unpopulated country full of spruce, spruce and more spruce, punctuated by an occasional moose and more frequent caribou, I am comforted by the fact that I am only a dial away from help should I need it. (We do loose a signal for a short time however.)  I have the unfortunate luck of the draw to be driving when we get to "Suicide Hill", a 9% grade down to a river and time for me to give up the steering wheel.  I have a grip on the wheel so tight my fingers hurt. I have already read ahead in the book for road conditions on tomorrow’s route and Bert gets to drive all day. Suicide Hill is enough for me. As we travel north we seem to see the same set of RV’s as they to head in our direction and travel at roughly the same speed. We continually pass each other at turnouts, rest stops and gas stations. We pass the couple we met in Calgary at least 4 times. Tonight’s home is West End Campground in Fort Nelson (4.5/8/6) and we have to jump the car again. This time we are going to disconnect the battery cable while we tow to see if that improves our percentages of not needing the jumper cables. Mr. Hum comes back late this afternoon and seems to be related to downshifting for as soon as we move the gear shift, the noise disappears.

(BF's Journal).  With the time change the sun now rises at 5 am. I use the extra hour to catch up on this journal, but soon we are off for another day of long travel, this time starting at milepost 0 of the Alaska Highway. As we head northwest toward Fort St. John, in the first fifty miles farms and houses still are obvious, but thereafter the spruce forest takes over.Spruce1.JPG (44636 bytes)White Spruce flow like a sea as far as we can see, rolling through the foothills up to the edge of snow covered peaks flanking our left. Up close they look deep evergreen, but in the distance the spruce turn ever deeper shades of purple until they join the sky, a powdery blue sky interrupted briefly with cotton candy clouds. White Spruce can tower to 200 ft, but the ones we see are 20 - 50 ft suggesting these are mostly regrowth from earlier clear cutting. Nevertheless, the forest looks untouched without evidence of humans except for straight fire break cuts covered with snow and spaced every few miles. When we reach the crest of a hill, the distant forest looks like a vast green field striped with an airport runway painted white. We cross Beaver Creek and huge red swatches splash across parts of the deep green forests. As we pass a red section up close, we can see Trembling Aspen showing red buds. Like trees we have watched since we left Texas, we catch spring in the bud stage and we push on just before they burst into green leaves. We spot a moose near milepost 80 and later come upon seven others. But the group of seven doesn’t seem right - too many in one group, too skinny, smaller heads, etc. Further down the road we see three more and soon it becomes clear that these are not moose but rather Woodland Caribou. Then we see another, and another, and two more at Prophet River and still two more after that - all caribou looking like bulky deer with fluffy white collars, dark bodies, white tails and the starting growth of antlers. We eat lunch at a small, graveled pullout near Adsett Creek. A sign identifies the road section we are about to travel, the Adsett Creek Realignment, completed in 1992.  The rerouted section removed 132 curves from 35 miles of the original Alaska Highway.  The sign quotes a traveler of the old road who wrote:

                            Winding in and winding out
                            Leaves my mind in serious doubt
                            As to whether the man that built this route
                            Was going to hell or coming out.

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