the

A bald eagle we spotted at Crescent Beach the other day.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Bellingham, Washington.

Where are they going next? Somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Wow. We can't believe we made it!

As you can see from today's header photo... we made it to the Arctic Ocean!

For those of you who don't know, the Dempster Highway has been able to take you as far as the town of Inuvik since 1971. But the village of Tuktoyaktuk (pop 900) on the Arctic Ocean has only been accessible via air, boat, or an ice road that operated only in the winter.

Five year ago, they began building an all season road, at a cost of around $200M CAD ($155M USD) from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. The road was completed last November, and this is the first summer that you can drive an RV to the Arctic Ocean in North America!

That's why we wanted to do it. We've always wanted to take Sherman to northern Canada, but this new road being open was the push we needed to get up here!

And it wasn't easy.

From Dawson City Yukon, it is 880 kms (546 miles) of gravel road. This is not so bad in a pickup truck, but Sherman doesn't do so well on bumps! And although we had read that the Dempster Highway is "well maintained"... Sherman no longer believes that statement to be true!

Yesterday, we did the final push... 150 kms (93 miles) from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. This section of new road is officially called the Mackenzie Valley Highway. The road had been under a weight limit restriction, but they raised the limit a couple of weeks ago and Sherman is now okay although heavy trucks still can't use it.

The scenery for the most part is nothing special.

We saw two different lone cyclists.

Yikes. Had to crawl along this section!

And this was worse.

It was really soft in this section. Sherman felt like he was driving on flat tires! I thought that if we came to a stop, we wouldn't be able to get going again. It was not fun getting by those rollers.

And it went for about 5 kms (3 miles) like that.

Miles of nothing.

A few straggly trees.

The Mackenzie Valley Highway.

There are lots of small lakes.

Tundra swans.

Despite a lot of signs warning of both moose and bears, the only wildlife we saw were a few tundra swans.

The last 15 kms (9 miles) or so still haven't been finished!

The last 15 kms still have not had the final gravel topcoat put on. So when it gets wet, it's really muddy and tracked. But when it dries, it's like concrete and very bumpy.

It took us five hours to go 150 kms (93 miles), but that included a half hour lunch break.

Welcome to Tuktoyaktuk!

Sherman made it to the Arctic Ocean!

There was ice here only two weeks ago!

Ruth, putting her feet in the Arctic Ocean!

And my turn!

Sherman wanted to get his feet in the water too, but the boat ramp looked a little too steep for him!

He does have a nice overnight spot with a view of the water though.

Tuktoyaktuk wasn't prepared for the number of visitors. We heard one person call it "Tuk Fever"! They do not have a campground here, although they now have plans to build one. In the meantime, RV's are allowed to overnight at a day use area called "The Spit". It's pretty much right in town.

There are no RV services here though... not even propane, and no dump station. You could probably get water if you asked one of the locals. You can buy gas and diesel though, and it's cheaper than in Dawson City! Gasoline is $1.60 per liter... I didn't check the price of diesel.

There's a cell tower here, but no public internet access.

Thanks to our Cabri friends Jan and Marnet for the bottle of wine! 
We saved it for this special occasion!

We've noticed that many people leave their trailer in Inuvik and drive up to Tuktoyaktuk, take a few photos, and then drive back in the same day. We don't really see the point in doing that. Each to their own, I suppose.

We're going to spend two or three nights here and meet some of the locals. So far, they seem very friendly and lots of people wave and say hello with a smile.

Part of the village of Tuktoyaktuk.

Sherman, overlooking the Arctic Ocean.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday. Hardly a cloud in the sky, and a high of about 15C (60F). Not as nice over the next couple of days though, with clouds, the odd shower, and a forecast high of 12C (54F). And if the forecast is correct, it's supposed to get cold by Thursday with a high of 3C (36F) and a low of -1C (30F) with a chance of snow flurries!

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40 comments:

  1. As way far north as you are, Calgary is still closer than the North Pole---more than 1400 miles away! Who said it was a small world?

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    1. Hard to believe isn't it?! Only 1400 miles away, Sherman can make it then, lol! :-P

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! Now we just have to make it back to the paved highway. ;-)

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  3. I love that you stuck you toes in arctic ocean...I always stick my toes in rivers, lakes, waters when traveling. How cold was it? The road to 'nothing' looks great. You can see for miles, and miles on a clear day :-) Yep I agree to spend some time since you will not be returning. When you return to Dawson City, it will feel like a metropolis haha

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    1. You can't go to the Arctic Ocean and NOT dip your toes in the water. :-) I think every different sea or ocean we have at least felt it, if not with our feet then with our hands.

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  4. Congrats on your accomplishment! Enjoy your days in Tuk as we will enjoy reading all about it.

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    1. Thank you Peter, I am sure that we will, even though the weather forecast isn't so desirable.

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  5. CONGRATULATIONS and WOW!!! So speechlessly happy you guys and Sherman made it!

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    1. Thank you Lynnette! We are pretty happy that we did it as well. :-)

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  6. As flat as the tundra is, it’s still very beautiful! I hope all the people visiting leave some of their tourist dollars in this welcoming little village. The Arctic Ocean is a sight to see! Safe travels as you head back down.

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    1. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't very flat, it is just that you can see so far because there aren't any trees to obscure your view. I actually enjoyed the scenery along the way, Kevin not as much but then he used to think the same about Saskatchewan until we lived there for awhile and it started to grow on him.

      I hope some people are spending their money here as well but it seems the majority of them just turn around and head back to Inuvik. We bought some fresh white fish from a guy that came around the spit selling it to all us "campers", we will have some for supper tonight. :-)

      Thanks for the safe travels back, we may just need it.

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  7. YEA! You made it to the end of the road! Bravo! Love that you both walked in the Arctic Ocean -- that makes it amazingly special. I can only imagine all the bumps making poor Sherman rattle and groan as you slowly made your way along that road.

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    1. We sure did make it to the end of the road! It definitely feels pretty special to have made it up here all under our own steam, not many people can say they have done that.

      Yeah, there were lots of bumps and Sherman is almost shaking in his tires at the prospect of having to back down that same road. We will just continue to take it slow and be as gentle as we can with him. He is going to be so relieved have his "boots" back on pavement once again!

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  8. Congratulations!!! Quite an accomplishment! I was in Kotzebue, Alaska some years ago...the furthest north I've been. Everything was gray. Luckily you have sunshine and colors!!

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    1. Thank you, we are definitely happy to have arrived here, it was quite an accomplishment for sure.

      I had to look up where Katzebue was, I had not heard of it before, it is pretty far west and fairly far north but not as high up as Tuktoyaktuk. Nice that you made it there, that is still quite an accomplishment too. Things are gray here now too, at least we had a beautiful sunny day the day we arrived here.

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  9. There is also a road in Alaska that will take you to the Arctic Ocean and Prudhoe Bay. It follows the Alaskan Pipeline. It can handle big rigs.

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    1. Partially correct Gene. That road will not take your rig right to the Arctic Ocean. It will only take you to Deadhorse, and then you have to take a tour bus and pay $69 per person to take you to the Arctic Ocean.

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  10. As a supplement to the information that Ruth gave on Kevin and Ruth's last blog regarding freezing of lines during winter, when my brother was stationed at a remote radar military site in Alaska, during the winter he covered the hood over his car engine with a special thick heating pad and plugged it in. Otherwise, he would have had problems with the engine block. Kevin would probably know what those problems would be because of extreme sub-zero temperatures. The US military made available the generators for electricity and hood pads to make this work. So, I wonder if Inuvik has the same setup for their vehicles during sub-zero weather.

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    1. Many cars if not all cars in Canada have block heaters in them. Kevin thinks it is almost a standard accessory in cars here in Canada. You then just plug the heater into an extension cord and leave it sit overnight and it heats the antifreeze so that in the morning you can just start up your car. Much easier and more practical than a heating pad. Here is more information on it en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_heater.html

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  11. Wow, what a great destination:) I have been inside the Artic circle but on a ship. I think I prefer your way!

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    1. It is definitely a place that you can proudly say I have been there!

      I am you not sure which way would be the better way, they both have pluses and minuses.

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  12. Nice accomplishment. Congratulations. The first time wedipped our toes in the Arctic Ocean was from thePrudhoe Bay oilfields.

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    1. Thank you Erin! Yes, Prudhoe Bay is where most people go to do that but you unfortunately can't drive all the way to the ocean under your own steam there. Now that this new road has been opened, we will be curious to see how many people will make there way here instead in the coming years.

      You have also been luckily enough to have reached the North Pole if I remember correctly. I think that is a place that we most likely will never get the chance to reach. :-(

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  13. Enjoying your travels tans for taking us along,

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    1. Glad you are enjoying our adventures!

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  14. Is the town of Tuktoyaktuk partly made up of islands? Buildings are showing beyond the town. Your picture reminds me of small towns on the Maine coast, or even in the Maritimes. Thank you for taking us along on your travels.

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    1. No, it is actually made up of small lakes and ponds in the Arctic tundra and is near the Mackenzie River Delta so it just looks more like and island, there are however lots of islands around Tuktoyaktuk.

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  15. Way to go! WINNER WINNER! Checkered flag!! 🏁🏁🏁🏁🏁🏁🏁🏁🏁🏁

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    1. Lol, thanks Connie and Barry! :-)

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  16. Congratulations you made it. Rough going at times but you still persevered . Lovely picture I feel like I am there with you. Thanks for the great journey. Hope to meet you on the road some day soon. Stay safe and enjoy your stay!

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    1. Thank you Brigitte, yes it was certainly rough going at times but we did it! :-)

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  17. Congratulations on making it to the Artic Ocean in Sherman. I've been following your adventure for a few months since your excursion in Mexico. Good luck to both of you on your future travels.

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    1. Thank you very much Glenn! This trip has certainly been an adventure and one that we have enjoyed, even with the road conditions.

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  18. We are currently in Dawson Creek, heading up to Whitehorse and Dawson City. Weather permitting (that is, not too much rain), we plan to do the Dempster to Inuvik and then on to Tuktoyaktuk in mid-July. We're driving a small motorhome built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (diesel) chassis. Thanks for sharing your experience driving to the Arctic.. and your photos.

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    1. Glad to hear that you are planning to do the Dempster, you really shouldn't have a problem with a small motorhome but we really can't stress the need for slow speeds and lots of patience. Just to note, our idea of slow speeds is very different from other people's ideas. The Dempster has a posted speed of 90km unless otherwise stated, that doesn't mean you should go that fast, for us on the good sections we maybe went 70km but I think our average speed most of the time was between 30-50km. Trust us, going slow will save your tires, even as it is Sherman's tire treads are cut up a bit, we will definitely be very cautious heading back. The other thing is to allow yourself lots of time and not be in a rush, if the roads are wet give them time to dry up a bit before proceeding, even half a day of nice weather is usually enough before getting back on the road. We are now "Stuck in Tuk" for a few days because the weather is bad at the moment, but we have no problems with that, we can keep ourselves busy. We would rather be stuck in town than stuck on the road because between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk there is nowhere safe to pull off for the night.

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  19. Congratulations on making it to the Arctic Ocean! What an accomplishment. I wouldn't want to have to drive on the roads you had to take to get there, but how cool that you were able to do it. Safe travels south!

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    1. Thank you Emily, it was definitely an accomplishment but we aren't done yet because we still have to go back. We have enjoyed this adventure but trust us we won't be doing this particular road again, at least not in an motorhome!

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  20. I have driven the Dempster a few times, and the ice road to Tuk many, but the new all weather road is as yet unexplored by me. I am sure you were quite careful getting your motorhome up there, I have only done it with pickups, SUV and one time with a camper.

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    1. I am sure you will love the new road whenever you are able to make it back up here for a visit. We were extremely careful driving our motorhome up here, that in itself was an adventure. Now we just need to get back! ;-)

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