After three days in Seward, we thought maybe we could get to Whittier and take the ferry to Washington State to avoid going back driving all across Canada and get to see Alaska from the comfort of a ferry deck. But as is expected in any expedition, things don’t always go as planned.
As we got near town, we found a toll that surprised us since we were only a few miles away. After paying $12 we finally realized the reason for the toll. To get to Whittier we had to go through a tunnel shared by cars and the train, this is the longest tunnel in USA with a longitude of 2.5 miles. The tunnel only has one lane, so the car traffic in each way and the train track are coordinated through lights. After this new experience, we started to look for a place to stay, we found a room in one of the two hotels there.
Whittier is a very small town dedicated to fishing and its main attraction is the ferry managed by the Alaska Marine Highway. It was late, so the office were closed and had to wait until the next day to look for availability. We decided to walk around town and asked the locals about their history. We went to a small museum inside the hotel and you can’t imagine my surprise when a saw a name plate that said: General Simon Bolivar Buckner!!! What?? I asked myself…how curious to find somebody with the same name as our hero in these far lands.
It was during WWII that this hero was designated to install and supervise more than 300 military bases and 150,000 soldiers that fought Japan in this front. His performance was so impressive that he was sent to Hawaii commanding the Tenth Battalion during the most bloody battle, Okinawa. With a fighter spirit, Bolivar preferred to command his soldiers on the front and after only four days after winning that epic battle, he died hit by a Japanese machinegun. He became the USA officer of higher rank to die during the Pacific battle on WWII.
And making it even more interesting, his name has the suffix Junior, his father had the same name and he was also a general, but on the Mexican-American war, the Civil War (confederates) and Governor for the State of Kentucky. Doing a little research, I found out they were named after our liberator, something that thrill us and makes all Venezuelans proud.
The next morning we were regretfully informed that the ferry to Washington didn’t go out until Monday (and it was Tuesday) so we took the hard decision of driving back. We will drive to a small Canadian town called 100 Miles House. A 3,200 kilometers non-stop drive, except for gas and food, to avoid the high costs of Alaska and Canada, returning as soon as possible to USA (Alaska seems like another country). We started the way back excited but hungry since there weren’t many places to eat. We stopped at a gas station before crossing to Canada and the hot dogs were so old, that they gave them to us for free, something we couldn’t say no to.
The inner bearing of the AC compressor began making a sound, its seem it was breaking down due to too much dust and mud during the expedition, there was no other choice than take out the belt and continue our way, since with the cold we wouldn’t need it for many kilometers. Driving so many hours on a route we had made a week ago got boring and tiring, the rain, mist and gravel roads demanded great driving expertise during a long time, even though we could still enjoy watching many bears in Canada and after 40 hours we arrived to 100 Miles House early in the morning, and exhausted we looked for a hotel and slept the rest of the day and night.
The next day, we continue to Whistler, a place great for snowboarding and ski lovers. Beautiful buildings, elegant hotels and restaurants are the main attraction for the tourists while they are not sporting in the snow. On this time of the year, some of the ski slopes have been transformed in cycling trails. Many of them descend these slopes very fast while doing great stunts, leaving spectators amazed.
Leaving behind the glitzy tourism, we continue across Vancouver and enjoying its friendly architecture, beautiful buildings and this bubbly cosmopolitan city. We crossed the border to USA and went around Seattle to camp in our next destination: Crater Lake National Park in Oregon State. There is a long way to get to Florida…