There are two main highways across Canada towards Alaska – the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar Highway from the West. The Cassiar ultimately meets up with the Alaska Highway.
There are four main roads leading to those highways. Both the Eastern Access Route through the Alberta plains and the Eastern Mountain Route through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta lead to the Alaska Highway. The Western Access Route through Vancouver to Whistler leads to the Cassiar Highway. And the Central Route through central British Columbia can lead to either the Alaska or the Cassiar Highway. Of course, there are many approaches that you can take from the States and Canada leading to these routes.
Finally, the Marine Highway from British Columbia through the Inside Passage in Alaska is a great alternative. Ferry service provides access to several towns that are only accessible by sea or plane and stops in several towns on mainland Alaska.
Why did we choose the Eastern Access Route through the Alberta plains?
We drove up the Pacific Coast last year and were looking to see new places. Also, we were concerned about possible windy and rainy conditions on the coast this early in the year (of course, on our route there was a possibility of cold and snow).
Since we spent time in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta last year, we chose the plains route which is a slightly faster, though admittedly less scenic route than the Eastern Mountain Route.
Today we decided to drive as long as possible – our usual goal down in the lower 48 is to drive no more than four hours in one day, but for this particular trip, we are making exceptions to our “rule”.
Today’s driving recap:
Road: Highway 22
Road Type: 2-lane
Road Conditions: Some smooth, parts had a few patches, some had lots of patches
Road: Highway 43
Road Type: 4-lane divided
Road Conditions: Smooth, parts had a few patches
Miles Today: 452 (the fourth longest drive since we started the walkabout)
Miles driven from Canadian border: 623
Driving Time: 8:30
The scenery was much the same as the rest of our route so far: gently rolling hills turning to largely flat agricultural land, passing small towns along the way. When we left Cochrane, the skies were gray, there was a thick fog and it was misting. After a few hours the sun came out.
We saw one coyote crossing the road, and later Hector saw two others.
We continued our drive and made it as far as Grande Prairie, Alberta. This is the largest town on our route and we are camped in the Walmart parking lot. Amazingly, we have access to Walmart’s Wi-Fi in the parking lot. Yay!
But when Hector walked to the car to take out the keys, he discovered that our sunroof had been completely shattered. We took a side road to check out a campground earlier and part of it was gravel (maybe a total of six miles roundtrip). Somehow, a rock must have bounced off one of the kayaks and shot directly down to our sunroof – a fluke. Aaargh!
Turns out that we are right next to a Subaru dealer so we will call tomorrow to see if we can have the repair done tomorrow. If not, Hector is going to create a makeshift cover, tape it down with duck tape and we will take care of it a month from now in Anchorage.
We will not, however, allow this to derail our plans. Tomorrow we head to Dawson Creek, the start of the Alaska Highway.