North to Alaska!

This was the last portion of our journey from Northern New York to Alaska via the Alaska Canadian Highway which is commonly referred to as the "ALCAN". We had been advised by many sources to prepare ourselves for one of the most beautiful yet hazardous drives.


Super 8

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by tamtbell on May 13, 2004

Our first night outside of Oregon was spent in the Super 8 Motel just outside of Williams Lake BC. This hotel is extremely easy to locate as it’s right off Highway 97, which continues up north to Dawson Creek. Located within walking distance is also a very good restaurant called the Laughing Loon Pub that serves American food and very delicious Greek food. There is also a small gift shop below that sells the loveliest soaps, oils and other miscellaneous items.

The hotel itself is not all that great but it served our needs for the night, which included a clean bed and room, a shower and a toilet. The bed was rather lumpy and smaller than what we were used to but we were so tired after an 11-hour drive that we simply did not care. The carpets were somewhat worn but clean; the bathroom was small, clean and contained a small coffee pot with complimentary inexpensive coffee. Our room windows did not offer much of a view as when the curtains were pulled back we were privy to a view of a large muddy hill surrounding us. The price was not bad here as we paid $70 Canadian. I would not have paid much more though no matter how tired I was as even though the room was clean it was certainly not the most comfortable I have ever been in.

The phone was bolted down to the bedside table and the remote control to the television was given to us by the front desk staff which disturbed us a bit when we thought what type of clientele must frequent this motel, but it didn’t matter at this point. We were tired and needed some food, sleep and a shower in that order. Whether we were so tired that we heard very little noise or maybe just the insulation was of good quality I do not know but we heard literally nothing of our neighbors in the rooms around us.

We discovered the next morning upon awakening that a complimentary breakfast of English muffins and coffee were served in the lobby but we were in too much a hurry to do more than nod in the direction of the food and then head out the door to our Jeep. The staff here both at checking in and out was friendly, professional, and helpful. All in all, if you need just as we what we were, a clean bed, shower, and toilet and a good price, then this is a good place to stop. Otherwise don’t waste your money, as you should find better somewhere else.

For more information see the following website http://www.super8.com/Super8/control/Booking/search_check;jsessionid=AlUHvEwRaSuroeweU660VqiND2x6O7EbrNFZhsKs1tgl15nDQQim!-1740735867!-1225538152

Super 8
1712 Broadway Avenue South Highway 97
Tualatin, Oregon
(250) 398-8884

Ramada Limited Dawson Creek

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by tamtbell on May 13, 2004

This was the second day of our driving and much shorter than the first due to the advice of our Milepost. We arrived shortly after 1:30pm to Dawson Creek where without delay we checked into our hotel, the Ramada Limited Dawson Creek. The friendly front desk clerk promptly advised us it was not a problem at all to check in early, recommend a local restaurant named Mr. Mike’s Grill where we could get a discount on our meals gave us our keys and sent us on our way.

Like the Super 8 in Williams Lake, this motel was nothing special as it had a clean king sized bed, one desk, a medium sized bathroom with a coffee maker and complimentary coffee. The one thing my husband and I both noticed, which we took an immediate dislike to, is the fact that whenever other occupants are taking a shower or bath, our water would turn burning hot or freezing cold in an instant. Otherwise, the bathroom was fine, though a bit antiquated.

At this stop, unlike the one at Williams Lake we were a bit more alert therefore we did hear more noise from other occupants. Since it was still late winter however we were in luck because there was only a few other rooms occupied one of which unfortunately was right above us. Why the front desk staff put someone right above us when there were plenty of other rooms available is beyond me. Other than hearing a bit from our neighbors upstairs the room was very quiet as we could not even hear the traffic passing by on Highway 97.

In the morning this hotel serves a nice complimentary breakfast off the lobby that includes toast, muffins, fruit salad, yogurt and cereal as well as both coffee and tea. The average price here seemed pretty reasonable as we paid CDN$80 however; just remember the time of year does make a difference on local prices so the best thing to do would be to check the Ramada website for current prices.

For more information please see the following website.

Ramada Limited Dawson Creek
1748 Alaska Avenue
Tualatin, Oregon
(250) 782-8595

Super 8 Fort Nelson

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by tamtbell on May 13, 2004

After our last experience at the Super 8 in Williams Lake we were not that excited to check into the Super 8 in Fort Nelson however because of the excellent weather and road conditions we arrived extremely early. We were both pleasantly surprised when we drove up to the motel, unloaded some of our bags and made our way across the icy parking lot to the main lobby.

The lobby here is very spacious, furnished with comfortable looking overstuffed couches and chairs. Upon checking in, we found that the front desk staff is not the most friendly, as I asked about local restaurants and only got a small shrug and a set of directions rather rapidly given. I was also quickly told about the complimentary breakfast in the mornings, at which point the front desk clerk turned her back to me and began chatting again with her coworker.

Fortunately that was our only bad experience with this hotel as our room surprised us totally when we entered our room to find a mini kitchenette with a microwave and a tiny refrigerator. The bathroom was small but wonderfully modern, the king size bed was extremely comfortable, soft and inviting and there was even a sitting area off to the side of the bed. On the first floor, there is access to the rooms either from the outside or from the hallway off the lobby, which I found rather convenient as the next morning we were able to load our luggage into our Jeep very quickly.

If you have children, this hotel will be a great treat for them as it boasts a medium sized pool with a large water slide and for the adults a warm bubbling Jacuzzi off to the side. There is also a workout room right off the pool area that is complete with free weights, stationary bicycles and elliptical machines. Off the lobby is a laundry room which we utilized since we both believed that we wouldn’t be staying anywhere in the next few days with laundry facilities. The prices are a bit higher here as we paid CDN$120; however, I believe it is worth it here as the motel looks brand new.

The complimentary breakfast in the morning is very nice here as they have waffles that you can make yourself, as well as the other normal continental breakfast foods such as toast, muffins, and cereal. All in all, if you’re stopping through Fort Nelson I definitely suggest this motel.

For more information click on this link.

Super 8 Fort Nelson
4503 50th Avenue South, Box 1389
Tualatin, Oregon
(250) 233-5025

The Belvedere Motel

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by tamtbell on May 14, 2004

The drive from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake was short and we had almost decided to skip this stop however we decided to take a break and visit the Liard Hot Springs halfway through the drive. We arrived into Watson Lake a little after 4pm, which was good considering that in this town, especially during the winter, there is very little to almost nothing to do.

The Belvedere Hotel boasts that it is the newest and nicest hotel in town and with that said I’d hate to see what the town’s other motel is like. Upon entering, we rang the bell in the large deserted lobby and waited a few moments until a gentleman entered and attempted to check us in. I can only guess that he was a friend of one of the staff because he finally told us we would have to wait for the front desk clerk because he didn’t know where our keys to our room were placed. Conveniently enough, the front desk clerk suddenly appeared, at which point we received our keys and were then advised that if we left the hotel premises after 9pm, we would be locked out because the front doors are locked. I must admit that this worried us both, but since the town looked so small, my husband and I didn’t think we would be out enjoying any nightlife that evening. After being told that the only place in town to eat was right down the street at the Gateway Motor Inn, we headed to our room with a bit of reluctance.

Our room was large but furnished very sparingly and cheaply. The main room contained a king size bed that was awfully lumpy, two bed side tables, a small television on top of a small dresser, and an oscillating fan that was placed over in a corner near the window. The green hung rather drably and almost gave us the impression that we were staying in the slums. The bathroom was very small and included a rusty shower with a constant leak that annoyed us throughout the night, a toilet and a small vanity that was a bit dark due to a blown light bulb.

Later that evening, after dinner, we retired to our room to be serenaded by a very vocal dog whose owners must have been staying somewhere near us as well as an occasional television. The next morning upon checking out, we left our keys on the front desk as we had been instructed to do if we left before 8am as no one would be on duty before that time. We had a quick breakfast at the restaurant located in the motel, which for some reason was not open the night before for dinner and then were on our way, gladly. For more information, click on this link.

The Belvedere Motel
Box 370
Tualatin, Oregon
(867) 536-7712

Westmark Whitehorse Hotel & Conference Center

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by tamtbell on May 16, 2004

Whitehorse was almost the end of the trip and we were ready for it to be over. We had been on the road now for almost 30 days and we were anxiously waiting for somewhere where we could call home. At this stop it was the Westmark located in downtown Whitehorse. The first thing I noticed about this hotel is the fact that parking is very limited so be prepared to walk a bit at first, especially if there is a event taking place at the conference center in the hotel.

The hotel staff is very nice, friendly and professional here as they checked in very promptly. The hotel itself is under renovations, or at least was on our floor so be prepared for a bit of sawdust and building materials here and there.

Our room, priced at CDN$110, was comfortable and about average sized for most hotel rooms. It did have a rather unsightly view of the other rooms right across from us but as long as you closed the drapes you never noticed it. The room was furnished with a king size bed, a desk, a small sitting area, and a small vanity where a coffee maker sat with free coffee and tea. The bathroom, especially compared to some of the other establishments we had stayed at, was quite nice with a larger bathtub and very nice sized vanity complete with some very nice shampoos and lotions.

There is one restaurant on premises that serves acceptable food in the evenings, however their food and service in the mornings is much better. There is also a gift shop that is stocked with everything from Aurora Borealis information to gold nugget jewelry as well as a barbershop and convention center. We did also notice that there are laundry facilities on each floor near the elevators that are much better priced that in Fort Nelson. The hotel is within walking distance from just about anything you would want to look at and visit, except for the Beringia Interpretive Centre which is around two miles which was closed during our visit due to the time of year. Also another attraction we heard about that you shouldn’t miss is the Frantic Follies, an old fashioned can can and Vaudeville revue which sounded like a lot of fun. If you like shopping then you shouldn’t miss the stores and shops on Main Street and if you like food definitely visit The Cellar Dining Room and Gallery Lounge, their salads are fresh and very tasty.

For more information, see the following link.

Westmark Whitehorse Hotel & Conference Center
201 Wood Street
Tualatin, Oregon
(867) 393-9700

Mr Mike's Grill

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by tamtbell on June 13, 2004

After settling in our hotel room in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, my husband and I decided to get bite to eat. We decided to take advantage of the discount that we would receive at the local restaurant Mr. Mike’s Grill because we’re staying at the Ramada Inn. At first glance when we arrived at the restaurant which was approximately a 10 minute drive away from the hotel, it appeared to be rather rundown and not all that nice, however once we stepped inside we realized that it appeared to be a very nice restaurant.

We were immediately greeted by the very friendly hostess, who seated us promptly in a nice corner booth. Our waitress soon came right after to take our drink orders as well as to tell us about the daily specials. My husband and I were both very surprised we looked at the menu and realized that we were seeing steak and lobster and King crab legs and not just hamburgers. So after few moments, we both decided on the steak and King crab legs and then settled back as we casually sipped our drinks. One thing I did notice while we relaxed and waited for our meals is that even at 5pm this place is busy so it’s important to get there early to get a better table.

We had been told by the staff at the hotel that this would be the last civilization we would see for about 1,400 miles so we were more than happy to spend a few extra dollars on a nice meal. The prices on the menu weren’t that bad, but they weren’t that great either. The entire cost of our dinner in Canadian dollars came to about $65.00, however that was worth it. Not only was the service absolutely wonderful but the food was delicious. Both of our steaks came out cooked perfectly and the King crab legs were sweet and succulent and oh so tasty. Also served with both of our dishes were extremely large baked potatoes that could be topped with just about anything and everything one could ever want and a very large salad served at the beginning of the meal. The meal was not only delicious it was very filling as both my husband and I could barely finish our plates.

If your traveling plans take you to Dawson Creek and then forward on to the Alcan, I definitely suggest this restaurant. Whether you’re dining with your family or just your significant other, this is a great restaurant to get a delicious meal as well as to relax after a long day of driving.

Mr. Mike's Grill
1501 Alaska Avenue
Tualatin, Oregon
(250) 782-1577

Liard Hot Springs Lodge and Gas Station

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by tamtbell on June 13, 2004

Once we had soaked in the hot springs, we decided we were hungry and we also needed stop to fill our Jeep with gas. We stopped at the Liard Hot Springs Lodge at historic mile marker 496, where it appeared we could not only get a hot meal but also fill up our jeep. The lodge itself is a large, comfortable, two-story cabin. On the main floor are the restaurant, gift shop, indoor restroom, and lobby that during our visit was stocked with a television and a selection of children’s and adult’s movies on VHS. On the second floor, there were, I believe, rooms that one could stay in overnight. However, my husband and I did not go upstairs.

We sat down on wooden benches that were made of the most beautifully finished pine, and after looking around I realized the entire restaurant glowed because it was all made of the same type of pine tree that had been finished with a shiny coat of lacquer. After looking over the menu, I noticed that the restaurant served such items as hamburgers, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, grilled and fried fish, and chips covered with gravy, which, by the way, seems to be a northern Canadian favorite. Both my husband and I decided to have a cheeseburger with chips, which is what many Canadians call French fries. I also noticed that the food here is very reasonably priced as both my husband and my lunches came to about $20.00 Canadian.

After around 40 minutes, our food was served, which would normally annoy me that it would take so long, but considering where we were and the fact that there was but one cook made me just shrug and take a bite into my cheeseburger, which was delicious! I’ve never tasted a better cheeseburger anywhere in the lower forty-eight. Maybe it was just the long soak in the hot springs that had totally relaxed me, or that I was on vacation, but the food here seemed almost heavenly. Even the family that was seated next to me with their little boy that seemed to constantly want to know who we were didn’t seem like that much of an annoyance.

This restaurant is a great place to stop for families, couples, and singles, as it offers good food at a good price and it is so conveniently located right next to the hot springs. If you’re ever in the area I would definitely suggest it.

Liard Hot Springs Lodge and Gas Station
Historic Mile Marker 496
Tualatin, Oregon

Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by tamtbell on May 16, 2004

My husband and I had never visited a hot springs before so we were both a little excited and nervous as we didn’t know quite what to expect. I had read in the Milepost and had been told by many other experienced ALCAN travelers however that we had to stop here as it wasn’t to be missed. When we first arrived to the Canadian National Park we drove around cautiously, both looking for wildlife as well as a sign that it was okay to proceed all the way into the park as it looked very deserted. Once parking and standing outside our car, we made up our minds and grabbed our swimsuits and towels that I had conveniently placed in a plastic hotel laundry bag and made our way down the boardwalk.

From the parking lot, we walked down a wooden boardwalk that is surrounded on both sides by thawed marshlands and streams that surprisingly enough had tiny fish swimming in them. Here and there we saw many signs that warned us to be on the lookout for bears and other wildlife however being what Native Alaskans call "Cheechakos" we had no idea that the bears were most likely hibernating so we looked anxiously into the forest for any other signs of life. Thankfully we were alone.

When it finally seemed as if we had simply walked right past the hot springs as the boardwalk seemed to continue on eternally, we reached the area of the hot springs where the smell of sulfur assaulted our noises. We looked warily at the calm, steaming waters from the deck that was built above and decided, mostly because of the cold wind blowing past us that we should just go ahead and take a dip. We both hurriedly moved to the locker rooms that, by the way, are completely open to the air yet totally private from the outside, changed into our bathing suits while yelling at each other through the wall to tell each other how cold we were. Even more quickly did we run into the hot springs where my husband gallantly allowed me to descend the stairs first into the wonderful warmth that surrounded my body.

Unlike a Jacuzzi or hot tub, I have to admit that a hot spring warms you so thoroughly and completely as well as making your skin feel like satin and your joints and muscles feel loose and flexible. We sat for a good 10 minutes while we warmed up on one of the stone benches provided in the center of the spring and then got curious and walked around in the waist high waters with small soft pebbles below our feet. Here and there, we felt small currents of warm, hot, and then suddenly very cold water, which totally invigorated the both of us. After around 30 minutes, we decided, rather disappointedly, that we should get out and get back on the road.

Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park
Mile Post 477
Tualatin, Oregon
(250) 427-5452

Journeys on the Historic ALCAN

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by tamtbell on June 13, 2004

When it came time to plan our trip from northern New York to Fairbanks, Alaska, my husband and I were not quite certain if we should go ahead and drive the ALCAN, take the marine highway or simply fly from Watertown, New York to Fairbanks, Alaska. Of course we decided to take the ALCAN Highway, not only because the military would not allow us to ship two vehicles, but I had also heard that the drive on the ALCAN was one of the most beautiful drives I would ever take and it was simply not to be missed. Of course I had also heard that the qualities of the roads were not so great either, but being the type of person I am, I just shrugged and said we would tackle any problems we met on the road.

As we began to prepare for our trip, I stocked up on things such as sterno, dried foods like granola and fruit, and canned soups. I had heard that it was a good idea to stock up on a few provisions if you were taking the ALCAN, so I made sure we were prepared. As we began our journey out of snowy, northern New York with all our food provisions tucked tidily in a large cardboard box and our sleeping bags and cold winter gear in another part of our Jeep, I took stock of everything I had made or collected and felt that we would be able to do this with no problem. With a few stops every so often at a grocery store, we would be fine.

I was right; every stop we made that was longer than 2 days, we stocked up on fruit, juice, water, bread and luncheon meats. By the time we hit the ALCAN, this habit of stocking to replenish our food was almost ingrained and at that time we needed it the most. Both restaurants and grocery stores are hard to find on the ALCAN so it was important during this time of year to keep some food on hand. Even though we had planned our trips between each city to be shorter than they had been in the lower forty-eight, we didn’t know what to expect. We had been told that this time of year could be treacherous due to the wet spring snows and the road conditions. All I can say was we were lucky.

Our drive on the ALCAN was so easy between each stop that it was almost too easy. Here we expected awful weather, bad roads, and long driving times due to pounding snows, yet we had no problems. Honestly, I believe that we must have been lucky to get such great driving conditions after what we had been promised by others to get. Each stop from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Whitehorse and then to Fairbanks, Alaska took us much less time than what we thought would. In fact, we could have possibly skipped Watson Lake and continued onto Whitehorse except for one reason alone. If we had skipped Watson Lake, we would have never gotten the chance to experience the Liard Hot Springs as we would have never had the time. Now that I know about the hot springs I would never do that.

Other than Whitehorse, the Hot Springs were the ultimate excitement of our whole trip up to Alaska. Both my husband and I had never had the chance to enjoy a natural hot spring set in its "natural setting". This was not only a romantic interlude but a truly relaxing one as well. If I could, I would drive right back from Anchorage this day to enjoy the beauty, serenity, and relaxations that those hot springs have to offer.

As I have mentioned above, Whitehorse was another fun stop. Whitehorse, which is the capital of the Yukon, still to this day resembles the old mining town that it used to be. Everything from The Best Western on Main Street that faintly resembles an old western, gambling hotel, to the tiny shops that inhabit that street, this city has managed to keep its old mining charm. Even during early spring this city has a lot to offer travelers. Whether you prefer shopping, touring museums, or just sight seeing, this town has a lot to offer.


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