Alaska 2008 – Day 19, July 22

Day 19, July 22

Fairview to LaCrete AB

230 miles

We stop for gas in front of the giant Sasquatch statue which may be the highest point around for miles in all directions. We look at each other and Mike says ‘Have we made a huge mistake?’. The last hundred miles were so exactly perfectly matched to each other, there can be no way I could tell them apart. Mile upon mile of smooth flat roadway, the typical wide swaths of trees cut 100 yards back from the road and then dense forest beyond. No hills, no mountains, only flat straight road, grass and trees.

We haven’t seen another motorcycle in miles, and we can’t imagine making the entire trip up to Great Slave Lake if it looks like this.

We ask the cashier at the gas station if the view gets any better, she says she doesn’t know.

We continue on our flat wide and straight way, the only break is at the ferry, where there are exactly 10 mild switchbacks in the road, 5 down to the ferry, 5 back up on the other side.

After the ferry crossing, the trees drop away and the vista changes to open farm land, bright yellow fields of flax, tall corn and neat rows of wheat. We are in Mennonite country. Houses are simple, barns trim and proper, everything well maintained and clean without added embellishment.

The town is disappointingly new, but the locals are very proud of it. We get stares from some, but every one is exceedingly pleasant and helpful. For all their friendliness, everyone is very different than us, and I feel a bit like we’re in the Twilight Zone (they probably feel the same way meeting us!).

We stop at the visitors center, where a young non-Mennonite gal is very helpful. She recommends stopping at the heritage center, and calls them up to see if anyone is there to show us around. She says someone will meet us there in ½ an hour, so we head out. The center is new, but surrounding it are old houses, barns and farm equipment that look to be at least 80 to 100 years old. We meet John Goertzen, an extremely nice Mennonite farmer with a dry sense of humor. He shows us around, and I’m amazed to find out these homes which appear to be from the turn of the century were built in the 1950’s. Hand-hewn logs and outhouses were the norm here, when the rest of the country was building up suburbia.

Mennonites in this area are pragmatic about technology, using what they need and eschewing the rest. So you’ll see new pickup trucks, but the driver is wearing handmade clothing.

We have an excellent homemade dinner at the restaurant here, with John dropping by our table to make sure they’re treating us right. We are still getting covert looks from some of the locals, probably because I’m a lady riding a motorcycle – or maybe we just look crazed from our time on this road!

Our hotel is new and nice, and houses oil workers who are all happily drinking the night away with their alcohol purchased 100 miles down the road. They rail at this town and the boring flatness of the area. They’re funny and enjoyable to listen to, some of their northern accents are so thick they sound Irish.

Mike and I have a heart to heart talk and decide that even if Great Slave Lake is the greatest lake in the world, there’s no way we can be a slave to this road for another 800 miles.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s