Monday, August 31, 2009

Day Three: Saskatchewan and Alberta

The hayfields eventually gave way to rolling tracts of birch and conifer. Finally we began to see moose crossing signs interspersed with the deer signs. Having lived in the US all my life I didn't fail to notice that the Canadian caution signs depicting moose, deer, pedestrians, etc, are somewhat different.

It's hard to say why, except that I think their signs are designed by slightly more imaginative sign makers. The Canadian pedestrian symbol is slightly more bent forward, eager and energetic looking than its USDOT counterpart. Ditto the deer, which is fairly leaping vertically like a porpoise at Seaworld compared to the rather stylized stag depicted on our US deer crossing signs.

We are in Grande Prairie, Alberta tonight, on the verge of meeting up at the start of the Al-Can Highway...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 2: Minnesota and North Dakota

Minnesota kind of went by, I admit. I don't even remember if we stopped to eat there. I don't think so, as our plan was to eat a big breakfast each morning, stop only for gas/pee breaks, and work our miles away to dinnertime. We stopped last night in Lakota, North Dakota, for a steakhouse we'd read about, and then decided to stay at the motel that came next to the steakhouse as we were full of steak and beer and red wine and blue cheese dressing. It was a good call.

We left Lakota around 9ish this morning and made it into Canada this morning and are now in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We had breakfast in North Dakota and drove west past hundreds and hundreds of hayfields and several dozen windmills, got through customs OK into Manitoba and headed west/northwest until we got here.

We knew they were hayfields by the numerous large round bales of hay lying in the fields like so many giant metal cylinders. The newer ones are tightly wound of glossy dried grass that give off a sheen in the sunlight not unlike a large copper cylinder. The older ones are blackened and more haystack like. It seemed sad that so much effort and biomass from a previous harvest year was left to rot in the field, but we saw lots of them...

During the late afternoon we tuned into CBC and heard a great program about Indian music, specifically the Bhangra music of the Punjab. It made us want to eat Indian food, so when we checked into our hotel in Saskatoon we asked at the desk if there were any Indian places around. They couldn't find any within walking distance, so we went for sushi.

All you can eat sushi. If you are ever here and feel like a sushi dinner for about $20, stop at the New Island off Route 16 just on the west end of town.

Day 1: Wisconsin

Joe spent his early years there, and promptly got nostalgic as we drove first through Milwaukee (a mistake, caused by a map error on my part) and later Madision. The next day we stopped for breakfast somewhere near the Dells, and ordered the potato pancake special which came with two dinnerplate sized potato pancakes, apple sauce, two eggs, and two slices of meat. "Meat" is the Wisconsin term for the typical breakfast choices: bacon, sausage, or ham. As we were gorging on our already quite delicious breakfast, our cheerful and charming waitress came by to see how we were liking our meal and put more food on our table. "Here's some pudding for ya," she beamed, and placed two cupfuls of still warm vanilla pudding down by our coffee.

Now I have a reason to be nostalgic for Wisconsin...

Yep, that's what we're doing!

If you are looking for advice on moving to Alaska from this website, this would be like the blind leading the blind. All I can do is tell you good luck, because we are just flying by the seat of our pants ourselves.

How it happened: I spent the summer in Alaska working as a summer RA for the University of Alaska- Fairbanks. During the summer I was offered a year long position at a lab at UAF, and after discussing it with my husband Joe I decided to accept it.

Fairbanks by the way is the most northerly Alaskan city. Don't tell me about Barrow or some of the other towns. City, that's the distinction. I mean besides a university, they have Thai food and things like that.

But I digress...

We had all summer to prepare for my new job which starts September 8th, in Fairbanks. This means getting a place to live and trying to figure out what to do with all our worldly possessions. These were easily disposed of once we realized we could get people to take them FOR FREE. But since they didn't take as much as we'd hoped, we put up a sign on our door: FREE BEER, and that seemed to help. A lady from down the block came the day Joe and I were sweeping the apartment and getting ready to lock the door, and she took my rubber tree plant. Joe carried it to her apartment but told me he stopped just short of going into her apartment when he smelled the cat pee. "OK, enjoy," he said, and ran back out through the alley to our U-Haul.

We left this past Friday (August 28) at 3:45 PM, a late start, but at last we were underway.