We just got back from a 5 week swing through some western states and provinces ending at Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Among other things, this trip will remain memorable for the "winter camping" we experienced along the way. We ran the furnace all night for 17 consecutive days from May 11-27 just to keep the pipes from freezing in temps as low as 22F, but more often in the mid 20's. We've never run the furnace for more than 10 min. to take off a morning chill so this was totally new for us. Unlike true winter camping, the saving grace here was that daytime highs were always at least mid 30's.
This is May 18 on our son's yard in AB. Strong winds blew the snow right into the wheel well. We were never cold--the furnace puts out a huge amount of heat--and had plenty of comfortable layers along. I didn't even wear my winter jacket. It snowed steadily here for almost 2 days and this snow stayed on the ground for the whole third day too.
Some other photos in sequence:
Mt. Rushmore from a tunnel in Custer SP.
US85 in SD.
HWY 1 in NWT.
Louise Falls Territorial Park on the Hay R. Those are people sitting on the rocks beside the falls. We weren't young and foolhardy enough to leave the marked trail. Alexandra Falls, just as big, but not with the picturesque sections is less than 2 mi. upstream.
Part of this adventure is crossing the Mackenzie R. on a ferry. This is a big river, easily as wide as the Mississippi even in the southern states and the crossing is quite an experience not to mention the anxiety of driving on and off with a low slung 2499.
The highway is paved, but the landing, if you can call it that, is gravel because the current would erode pavement and gravel can be easily replaced. There are no barriers, although plenty of warnings--otherwise you could just drive right down the bank and into the river. The ferry holds its position on the bank by keeping the power on and the ramp is powered down and actually lifts the ferry somewhat to help hold it and reduce the dip you have to drive through. Driving on is a delicate technique I wouldn't want to do in rain or snow when everything is muddy and slippery. You need a careful touch on the throttle to keep moving without any hysterics--those of you with winter driving experience will know all about this. Too much throttle at the wrong time will spin the wheels in the gravel or on the steel ramp. I'm relieved to report we made it without any metallic grating sounds and stabilizing jacks intact. I kept the windows rolled up because I didn't want to hear anything. You can't stop because then you can't go forward or backward and will have a lot of people mad at you. One of the crew told me they cringe when they see an RV in the lineup, but said ones built like the 2499, with the wheels well back plus skid bars, usually get on and off ok. In the photo you can see gravel on the end of the ramp and a ridge of gravel on the bank where the ramp plows in a bit. This adds a nice little extra bump for your excitement on arrival and departure. The cranes are for a major bridge construction that will eliminate the ferry in about 2 years.
They put a backhoe on this ferry in the fall and chop a channel through the ice until at least the middle of Jan. By then the rest of the river is frozen so solid an ice bridge will hold heavy semis. In spring the ice is too thick to chop or run a ferry through and everyone has to wait 4-6 weeks until breakup. Yellowknife is a city of 20,000 so this requires some stocking up. But it also has a major airport as it is a main jumping off point and supply point for the whole Arctic. We counted no less than 4 passenger jets departing in about a half hour period after 7am.
This is the beach at our campground in Yellowknife. The locals said they really do swim here in July and August. Great Slave Lake was still frozen solid as well and we saw two brave souls x-country skiing on the slushy ice on May 25. The bush planes that normally land there were at the airport awaiting the change in season and changeover to floats so the ice wasn't considered safe for them anymore.
Really looking forward to meeting up with many of you at Buttownwood.