This was quite the challenging expedition– moving from Fairbanks, Alaska to L’Amable, Ontario with six people, 3 vehicles, and 34 dogs. It was challenging because it was very hot for the dogs (temps outside were 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit) and because the drivers got very little sleep. We often were on the road at 10:00am and drove until 2:00am.
I had wanted to write about each leg of the trip, but I was exhausted, and also didn’t always have Internet.
Below are highlights of the trip.
Leaving Fairbanks (June 28, 2015)
The original plan was to leave Fairbanks at 11:00am on June 28th, but we left around 4:00pm. Soon after we departed we realized that the trailer to the uHaul wasn’t hitched and the trailer fell off. Luckily the chain was holding the trailer. Due to the trailer unhitching , our “Stop for People and Dogs” stops signs fell off the top of the chain link fence (the uHaul was towing a trailer of around 24 chain link panels). I’m sure this was an eye-opening experience for Eric and Kyle– the drivers of the uHaul. Greg and I drove back to find the uHaul and Aric and Jen staged at around 13 mile CHSR. Note, Aric brought radios for us to communicate with– they didn’t have a great range, but were 100% useful for us to talk to each other when we we were close to each other.
In, or around, Tok we switched drivers so that Greg was driving the uHaul and Ilana was driving the dog truck. Greg wanted to be first to drive through the Canadian border Beaver Creek because he’s the only Canadian on the trip. Ilana was with the dog truck because she had all of the rabies certificates.
We arrived at Beaver Creek border patrol at around 12:40am June 29 and were release at around 2:20am. There was some delay with importing everything. The Border Patrol guys were very nice. They told Greg that he was Canadian and was welcome to enter the country, but all of our stuff was subject to import paperwork. Also, they told Ilana that she can’t “just move to Canada,” that the process will take around 1.5 years. They gave her a temporary visa and told her that she needs to leave Canada by Dec. 29, 2015 and re-enter. To her surprise, they said she can’t enroll in any educational or vocational institutions. Ilana is quite bummed about this because she wanted to take art classes in Haliburton.
Dogs Who Got Free
One of Ilana’s big concerns on this trip was dogs getting free and getting hit by cars. Luckily no one got hit by a car, but there were several dogs who got free.
- Bear slipped his collar.
- Bruno jumped out of the truck in downtown Whitehorse– someone forgot to close the door. Ilana’s heart sank when Eric told her Bruno escaped. Bruno is not a dog who comes when called. Thankfully Greg caught him.
- Stella got free when Ilana was untangling her drop chain. Ilana accidentally unclipped Stella and set her free.
- Cozzy jumped out of the dog box during one of our stops. Due to a problem with the latches to our dog boxes staying shut, whenever we stopped Cozzy’s latch was undone and he was able to push his door open.
- Moe slipped his collar.
- Rattles slipped his collar. Rattles is a difficult dog to catch. Three of us played a game of catch the Rattles.
Amazing Drive on the AlCan then Dread Hits
Upon leaving Watson Lake, the plan was for Eric and Kyle to drive ahead with the uHaul and film us driving into British Columbia (BC). BC wasn’t far ahead. When the truck and Subaru passed the BC welcome sign we didn’t see the uHaul. We thought this was strange, but figured the guys drove on ahead. We tried radioing them and didn’t hear a response. We assumed we were out of range.
The drive from Watson Lake to Ft. Nelson was amazing!! We saw individual bison and herds of bison, baby bear, bunnies, fox, and a bald eagle. The road was windy and scenery was amazing. Blue skies, mountains, pink sunsets! We were all having a great time! But where was the uHaul?
Around 40 miles outside of Ft. Nelson, our cell service picked up momentarily and we received a text from Eric “We are at the weigh station. Need paperwork.” F*CK!! Greg and I were driving together and started freaking out. The weigh station was seven hours behind us. We started thinking of scenarios of what could have happened and how to resolve the problem:
- What if the boys were thrown in jail?
- Greg could try getting a charter flight from Ft. Nelson to Watson Lake because driving back would take too long.
When we got to Ft. Nelson Greg dropped Aric and Jen and the Ft. Nelson Hotel and Ilana set up dogs at a local ball field. 34 dogs were out on cable ties and drop chains and the dogs were actually shaking the Tundra and attached dog trailer!
Greg phoned the Watson Lake weigh station and asked if our uHaul and guys were there, “No, there’s no uHaul here,” said the weigh station lady.
“Do you have a record of the uHaul being detained?” asked Greg.
“No, I just arrived at 4:00pm,” said the weigh station lady.
“If the drivers were detained and put in jail would you know about this? It would have been at around 2:00pm,” said Greg.
“Yes,” said the weigh station lady.
Eric and Kyle weren’t there– this was good news, but where were they? Turns out they were an hour behind us. They were only detained for 5 minutes and sent two texts, but their phone died and the second text was never sent. They were instructed to NOT stop at weigh stations because the stations are only for commercial vehicles.
Whew! What a relief. Eric and Kyle drove to the Ft. Nelson Hotel and got some needed rest.
Loosing Our Cable Tie-Outs
We had a pleasant break for dogs and people at DeFrarie Park in Maidstone, Saskatchewan. It was very hot out. We stopped at a gas station to fill up and got some Subway sandwiches for lunch. The people going in and out of the gas station were very friendly and interested in the dogs. One lady told us about DeFrarie Park– it had shade and a pond. She actually lead the Tundra and dogs to the park! We tied out the dogs and had a sit down lunch. When we left, Greg coiled up the tie-outs but forgot to pack them. Cable tie-outs are strings of metal rope with 8 spots to clip dogs to. After we lost two tie outs, we only had one left. We were able to “drop dogs” on the dog box and the one cable line– but we were no longer able to have all the dogs out at once.
Thunder Bay-Marathon Drive
Apparently, the only people who were able to sleep while being the passenger were Ilana and Greg, and Aric learned how to do this. Jen, Kyle, and Eric didn’t sleep as passengers. It’s a good skill to have, because you can get a little sleep in while the other person drives. Regardless of sleeping or not sleeping as a passenger, we were all exhausted and probably shouldn’t have been on the road at 2:00am for the Thunder Bay-to-Marathon route.
It looked like the drive would have been beautiful in the day. Winding roads and lakes galore. At one point Ilana was too tired to drive and asked Jen if she was up for it. Jen said yes, even though she was exhausted. Soon after we hit a pocket of fog and the windows fogged up. Jen alerted sleeping Ilana to the problem and Ilana turned on the defroster. It was a perilous moment– not being able to see out the windshield on a windy road.
Marathon to L’Amable
We left Marathon sometime in the morning and pushed onto L’Amable. Jen said it was an 18 hour day. We dropped dogs once to water them, and Ilana decided that we didn’t need to drop them again until we reached our destination because it cooled down a lot.
We arrive at the new StinkyPup Home at around 2am. We were all working on something– unloading dogs, unloading cars, unloading the truck. At one point Aric walked to the back of the house to get Greg. Then Aric was going to the hospital with Eric and Kyle. Kyle was pulling the futon out of the uHaul and fell backwards. He avoided hitting his head by landing on his hand, and broke his dominant left hand in four places. Ouch!!!!! The paramedics met Kyle, Eric, and Aric on the way to the hospital. Kyle is sporting an old-school plastic cast and will wear this for around six weeks.
Thanks to Everyone
Greg and Ilana are ever so grateful to Jen, Aric, Eric and Kyle. Not only did they endure crazy hours of driving, but they helped pack, clean the house, paint the arctic entry way, clean up poop (sometimes with bare hands!), care for the dogs, eat junk food, take few breaks, unpack, deal with lack of sleep, and deal with the all of the StinkyPup shenanigans (including Greg and Ilana’s shenanigans). THANK YOU!!!!