Not your average travel blog
The start of the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek constantly reminded me of how the north works – practically, hard, hands on, in extreme weather, overcoming the wild, and with no apologies. The industries up here are oil, gas, logging, infrastructure maintenance, and survival, and everyone seems to enjoy it a little rough around the edges…so to speak.
I was glad that the only section of the Alaska Highway (so far) where dusty mens yards resemble children’s unmade bedrooms was the first few hundred kilometres. However, instead of toy cars, plastic dolls and being strewn with computer game boxes, they were filled with rusty wreckages of oversized man-toys and piles of solid-industrial “stuff” stopping anyone from seeing the carpets. Beyond the semi-organised, weathered junk yards, the long road rolled smoothly, through one epic view to another.
After a few hours, it’s clear to me what KP was so excited about. Vast, expanse, of land (seemingly) untouched by man. There simply isn’t anywhere else on earth that there could possibly be any more large pine trees. Days and days of driving, and the pine forests are relentless.
We are here to enjoy the views, the wildlife and to explore any civilised place that is in our path – there aren’t many on the road north west (places, not civilised people!), so we’re sure to find a few surprises when we do come across them. One thing which is a sad surprise early on our drive, is that even though we are (seemingly) in the wilderness, there is extremely little wildlife. “Seemingly”, because there is a lot that can be hidden among densely growing trees in the Yukon, and on further investigation, things become clearer. The trees hide dozens of oil and gas wells, and large logging operations alongside a network of maintenance and staging areas. We see the hoards of trucks with hundreds of freshly cut trees, and flat beds carrying thousands of processed planks and pieces for instant construction. It may appear to be a wilderness up here, but it’s alive with industry, logistics, large business, and though it isn’t shouted about, a lot of money. Very little of which seems to remain here. The wild has been turned, and although there is much green cover, it feels like it’s camouflage for things that aren’t furry.
The industry does however thin out, and the articulated trucks on the highway begin to fade. We begin to notice more RV’s and travellers who are out to see the north as we are, a few hundred more kilometres north west of Dawson Creek. At this moment though, with little more than trees that disguise, roads that run tiresomely straight, and only common birds and bugs to admire in the wild, I’m still a little uncertain about what is so exciting on the road up ahead. An eager optimist, I’m hopeful…