Posted August 29, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
“The gate of heaven is everywhere”
The beauty of driving overland to Alaska is getting there.
Like Heaven Tramps tripping along from glory to glory, each new leg of the journey prepared us for the next pearly gate.
I once saw this ad: “Seventh Heaven Travel – because the urge to go to a better place is older than Moses.” The lively brochure went on to explain that heavens 1 to 6 aren’t chopped liver either.
Progressive heavens came from ancient desert nomads who expertly drafted a cafeteria of unique final destinations to satisfy a variety of after-lifestyles … Bright warm sunny heaven, starry-starry night heaven, foodie heaven, whoopee heaven, choir heaven, misty heaven, snowy heaven, crystal clear watery heaven … all neatly displayed beneath elaborate bejeweled domes.
They even included an exciting point system to encourage heaven hopping.
We traveled north through British Columbia crossing over land and sea from one sublime realm to another saying, “Pinch me,” at every turn.
Two weeks from solstice, with night all but banished, we raised stabilizers to leave Victoria. Jim grabbed his dogeared copy of Milepost (The Bible of North Country Travel which he’d studied for over a year) and graduated it to the cab of The Beast.
From here, we set aside 4-3-2 comforts, and our once-in-a-lifetime summer sightseeing adventure began.
With her silvery skin bursting with top-notch Victoria provisions, we pulled Beauty out of our beach hide-away …
and headed north toward Nanaimo …
where we caught the ferry …
to Horseshoe Bay, near Vancouver, British Columbia.
and skimmed along the coast on Hwy 99 …
to Whistler, a lively, youthy, upscale ski resort and village.
We settled in for a week of pristine alpine camping …
and world-class cycling trails.
Whistler is a bonafide cycling heaven.
We rode here…
and, we rode there.
We even went biking with the bears.
Bears are a valued part of the Whistler community. The region is also proud of its eagle habitat.
As the official body-guards for an eight-pound, sun-worshiping chihuahua, our hands were full.
Pico survived the urban bear and eagle capital of the world to celebrate his 14th Birthday in Whistler, British Columbia!
Success deserves reward.
We rode to the village mall …
for hand-crafted baked goods …
pints of cheer …
and about $200 bucks worth of long woolen underwear – as we had, by mid-June, given up on the fantasy of warmer days ahead.
We trialed our new underwear on the Peak-2-Peak gondola.
We were perfectly comfortable! Jim even enjoyed a cold beer in the snow.
The next morning we fueled up The Beast …
and set out on a hazardous but gorgeous mountain pass …
which led us down to a peaceful valley …
where kind locals offer generous pours of fine B.C. wine.
Fort Berens Estate Winery
Then, an afternoon nap …
before pressing on to Clinton
where we pulled in to The Road Kill Grill for the best bite you’ll find here or there on the highway.
That night we settled into a free campsite where a gentle thunderstorm serenaded us to sleep …
The following morning we set out for Prince George where we stocked up on DEF, paper products and organic provisions at Walmart where we met our first caravan of Alaska-bound travelers from The States.
Still overfed on Roadkill, Jim whipped up a light smoked salmon party tray because overnighting at Walmart is always a Living in Beauty celebration …
and (since this is Gold Rush country), we pulled the blackout blinds and lit up the wide screen with Paint Your Wagon. Better than a night at the drive-in! Thanks Walmart!
I like surprises and Jim’s the surprise guru. As we left Prince George the following morning, I had no idea where the road would lead, but I knew it would be special because this was Surprise Travel Day when I say, “Take me, I’m yours!”
And a well chosen route it was … mysteriously sparse of traffic with bare minimum signage.
It might have been sorta creepy, this hundred miles of Highway 99 to practically Nowhere. But the bonny blue sky – with treetops swaying in the breeze like those Jacquie Lawson dancing paintbrushes rendering their finishing touch to the fairytale clouds.
At midday we arrived to the small village of Mackenzie.
Turning off the highway onto a logging road …
we spotted a cow moose …
and a young bear …
before arriving to Alexander Mackenzie’s Landing Recreation Park, named for the Scottish explorer and fur trader in honor of his 1789 expedition.
With the reservoir at it’s low pre-season level, the choicest waterfront site was ours to take. We set up camp for seven days FREE of charge.
In this little sliver of B.C. paradise tucked into The Rocky Mountain Trench, I half-expected to see a lion lying down with a lamb.
Our senses reveled in the wonders of nature …
and the universe as we experienced our first midnight sunsets …
and felt gloriously, exotic and brave on the frontier.
Of course, our solitary life was mostly illusion …
Only ten minutes north, the friendly community of Mackenzie … with restaurants, cafes, shops and a community center with library, free public WiFi, an indoor pool and the World’s Largest Tree Crusher …
provided all the necessary services to support our reverie.
Mackenzie was the ideal wilderness experience we needed to break us in for a summer in North Country.
Inquiries about the existence of true wilderness in the Anthropocene era resemble ideas on the existence of Heaven. A sustainable environmental vision for the future, and an afterlife in Heaven are compatible. Each one describes the other. Even with wide-ranging differences in geographical and cultural identity almost every one of us, worldwide, knows wilderness when we see it and the recognition brings us to our knees.
Heaven they say is also a Land of Peace and brotherly Love, a sanctuary without war, starvation, hate, cynicism or harsh language. It is a resting place where the best in Man and Nature commune in harmony with the Creator. This universal idea has held firm across belief systems for thousands of years.
Jesus – a famous backcountry wilderness enthusiast – said Heaven is real, it is present, it is now. All we have to do is open our eyes and take the leap.
In memory of David Heath who made Heaven his home.
Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series
- Chapter 1 – San Diego to Malibu
- Chapter 2 – Malibu to Morro Bay
- Chapter 3 – Morro Bay to Santa Cruz
- Chapter 4 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco
- Chapter 5 – San Francisco to Eureka
- Chapter 6 – The Oregon Coast
- Chapter 7 – The Strait of Juan de Fuca
- Chapter 8 – Victoria, British Columbia
- Chapter 9 – Victoria to Mackenzie
- Chapter 10 – The Alaska Highway
- Chapter 11 – Yukon
- Chapter 12 – Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska
- Chapter 13 – Tok to Valdez
- Chapter 14 – Glacier View to Anchorage
- Chapter 15 – Kenai Peninsula
- Chapter 16 – Whittier to Talkeetna
- Chapter 17 – Denali
- Chapter 18 – North Pole to Chena Hot Springs – coming soon!
- Chapter 19 – Tok to Haines – coming soon!
- Chapter 20 – Haines Junction to the Lower 48 – coming soon!
- Chapter 21 – Lesson Learned – coming soon!
If you want to see our exact route, click here.
*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.