A very long drive indeed

We were on a mission. Our goal was to witness first hand the fabulous fall colors in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and to visit Denise’s birthplace in the small town of Munising.

This excursion has been on our to do list for many years.

Pippin Lake Alaska

To reach Michigan before the fall colors disappeared we were forced to maintain a steady pace down the Alaska Hwy and across central Canada, this turned out to be an unusual effort for us.

Typical Fall Hunting Expedition In Alaska

What we hadn’t realized was that covering the 3500 miles between Fairbanks and Munising in a timely fashion would be such an endurance test especially crossing the endless prairies of central Canada.

Our Camp At Deadman Lake along the Alaska Highway

Typically we travel at a leisurely pace exploring new places along the way and taking the road less traveled.

But with the our goal of beating the start of winter in Michigan we needed to press on, timing was critical or so we thought.

Dog Stop Near Tok Alaska

Several Michigan fall color websites indicated the color change was already under way. This news only increased our desire to get there sooner.

We rarely travel into the midwest so it was especially important to make the best use of our time.

Alcan South Of Whitehorse, Yukon

As we departed Alaska the trees were already changing color and fall was well under way,  the colors were peaking in most of the state.

At this point we thought we would see fall colors for the entire length of our trip, little did we know unusually warm conditions had delayed fall in the midwest.

Early Morning Dip Liard River Hot Springs

We decided to drive the Alaskan Highway this fall instead of taking the Cassiar. This allowed to see country we had not been through in a couple of years. This route also put us on a more easterly course to Dawson Creek.

Liard River Provincial Park and Stone Mt Provincial Park were ablaze with color yet many areas were still showing green.

Colorful Lichen in Liard River Provincial Park

Once we reached the southern end of the Alcan at Dawson Creek we turned east and immediately noticed less color change and a more normal green landscape.

In the town of Grand Prairie we had a large rock from a passing dump truck make a direct hit in the center of the windshield on the passenger side spraying Denise and Tuks with glass chips. Thankfully no one was hurt.

Harvesting Canola In Eastern Alberta

The landscape east of Edmonton is so flat, the locals say if your dog runs away, it would be days before his wagging tail will disappear over the horizon.

Hay Bales In The Evening Light

With hours of windshield time on our hands we became armchair farmers. As we traversed the great prairie Denise would research the different crops we were seeing.

We had no idea canola was such a major and important crop.

World’s Largest Indian Head In The Town Of Indian Head Saskatchewan
Fiddling Farmer, Davidson Saskatchewan

There were many “Worlds Largest” attractions scattered across the prairies of central Canada, we enjoyed them all. They were an entertaining diversion from the flat landscape.

Worlds Largest Coffee Pot In Saskatchewan, Could Hold 150,000 Cups of Coffee

Wheat is also a staple crop along with rapeseed, alfalfa, barley, flax, rye, corn, oats, dry peas, chick peas, dry beans, favabeans, lentils, mustard seed, sunflower seed, silage corn, triticale, canary seed, sugar beets, potatoes, and forage seeds just to name a few.

We watched strange looking harvesting machines as they slowly crisscrossed the landscape, often working late into the night.

Corn Harvester, Do Not Get In The Front Of This Machine

The total agricultural land in Canada is reported to be 167 million acres and it felt like we drove through most of it.

The locals told us the average size farm in Canada has increased from almost 700 acres to 800 acres, WOW!

Worlds Largest Beaver In Beaverlodge, Alberta

For 5 days we crossed the breadbasket of Canada and learned a lot.

Harvester At Work

Finally we entered the Lake of the Woods district in Ontario and the landscape changed dramatically.

We saw forests for the first time in days consisting of spruce, jack pine, birch and aspen growing amidst thousands of lakes interspersed with granite outcroppings. There was water everywhere.

Our GPS Showing The Many Lakes In The Area.

The Lake of the Woods is over 70 miles long and 70 miles wide, and contains more than 14,552 islands and 65,000 miles of shoreline. What a fantastic water wonderland.

Lake Of The Woods Visitor Center

Lake of the Woods is a fisherman’s dream. Rocky shores, marshy inlets and sandy bays provide ideal fish habitat for bass, walleye, northern pike and the always elusive muskie.

For those of us old enough to remember, the Lake of the Woods was the backdrop for some of the now famous 1950’s Hamm’s beer commercials with the bear paddling a canoe near a waterfall.

1950’s Hamm’s Beer Commerical

When I was a boy growing up in the southwest, I had no idea a beer commercial would fuel my early aspirations to spend my life outdoors. They enabled splendid daydreams about camping in just such a forest.

Fall Colors Near Lake Of The Woods Ontario

 

Lake Of The Woods At Sunset

11 days after leaving Alaska we finally re-entered the USA at International Falls Minnesota located on the shores of Rainy Lake.

Having the reputation as one of the coldest places in the US we didn’t spend much time in town.

At 360 square miles Rainy Lake straddles the border between the US and Canada and on the southern shore sits Voyageurs National Park. 

Long Range Forecast

It was great to finally reach the midwest and with the warmer than usual temperatures it should allow us to slow down and enjoy Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s fall colors.

Worlds Largest Smokey The Bear In Smokey The Bear Park, International Falls MN

It had been a very long drive indeed but well worth the effort.

In our next post you will find us exploring the backroads of Michigan and the beautiful Upper Peninsula, stay tuned!

In the mean time enjoy our latest video “A Very Long Drive Indeed”

 

Keep You Posted!!

 

23 thoughts on “A very long drive indeed

    1. Hi Chris, I was just thinking about that BBQ yesterday, we may have to go there again soon. Not sure where we are headed but typically we stay clear of the larger populations, if we do get close we will get in touch. Thanks, Tim

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  1. Lois enjoyed this blog and video. She especially liked the part where Denise was swimming because she would have liked to have swam too. Nellie says great post, ❤️

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  2. So you were driving over 300 miles per day. Wow! I cannot imagine doing that day after day. Our absolute max is 200 and I am working on getting that down to more like 150. You all must be exhausted. But the scenery was beautiful and your photos are always gorgeous. We keep heading farther south which is great temperature-wise, but we haven’t seen much fall color. As soon as it starts to come about wherever we are, we pull up jacks and keep moving. Unfortunate, because fall is so spectacular. Enjoy Michigan! We’re hoping to spend two or three months there at some point. There’s a lot to see and do. Have fun!

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    1. Yes it was long haul and an unusual one for us we but did not want to miss the fall color event. We are currently in the UP and the colors are now slowly dissipating and we also plan to follow them south. Hope you guys find color soon and glad your following the big dogs. Safe travels!

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  3. Al and I honeymooned in a small resort just north of Lake of the Woods. We were in the airline industry at the time and could’ve flown anywhere in the world for free, but chose to drive from Chicago into Canada through International Falls with our canoe tied to the top of our vehicle. We loved it. Romantic get aways to Mackinac Island were always a fav of ours. Michigan has the best fall colors I’ve ever seen. Enjoy!

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    1. What a great place to honeymoon, I can only imagine how camping along that beautiful would be like. We are really enjoying Michigan’s lakes, waterfalls, vivid colors and friendly people. Very glad we came all the way.

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  4. Canola, the vegetable oil, comes from rape seeds, a crop that thrives in that northern Canadian prairie. To their credit the farmers recognized a possible marketing problem in calling it “rape seed oil” so they invented the name Canola, from “Canadian oil.” Just call me Cliff.

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  5. Wow! SO glad that the rock from the passing truck didn’t hurt Denise or Tuks. That had to be frightening. Lovely photos here. Enjoy your journey! Hugs from a snowy Tok, Alaska.

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    1. The only real drawback was that the hole was right in front of Denise’s view and we weren’t able to get it repaired until Michigan. Glad you enjoyed the post, another great trip down the Alcan. Hope your winter isn’t to harsh, Hi to Dave and the pups!

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  6. Road Warriors indeed!!!! I would have exhausted subjects to talk about, listening music and road snacks. Wonderful photos, great video and sound track…noticed your cracked windshield. Denise shared that one was bad. And you guys covered more grasslands, than I have seen in my life. Look forward to more details when we see you.

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    1. I don’t think we will make a drive like that again but it was worth doing this winter for sure, its beautiful here. We both gained 10 pounds snacking along the way….just kidding. Our cruise control was worth its wait in gold along with sat radio. Thanks for following the DOGS! 🙂

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  7. This reminds me of my many, many trips across the northern and mid section of the USA. The plains are amazingly wide and flat. They seem to go on forever, but Texas and Oklahoma are even worse. We want to take another trip to Upstate NY, but the thoughts of 3 to 4,000 miles are holding us back. Thanks for the memories. Great pictures as usual. Enjoy the colors. I do miss them.

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    1. Yes the milage was kind of tough on us but since our arrival in the UP all worth it. We consider going further northeast but I think we are to late for any colors up that way. Time to head southwest. Thanks for the nice comments and for following the Big Dogs!

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