We load the pick-up, put shutters back up on the cabin windows, and take the Alaska State Parks staff out for an appreciation lunch. The plan to stay in Whitehorse, Yukon while our truck gets an oil change and tire rotation takes a twist. After the much-needed maintenance, we head out on the highway and then…thump! The front driver’s side wheel rolls off and into oncoming traffic. The rotor skids along the roadway. We are lucky to not be travelling at 70 mph.

A cop calls the tow truck to take us back to Whitehorse Toyota. The dealership assures us that they will take care of everything. So..they pay for the tow, buy us breakfast, replace the rotor and tighten all the wheels. Then they present us with a check for $1500, the repair estimate for dents. I sign the check, releasing them from liability, and again hit the highway, this time $1500 richer. My truck earns the title of “Babe Magnet II” which is a different story. I have no intention of repairing the dents.

Every little rattle on the truck makes Mare nervous.  Three hundred miles later, through rutted, twisty, muddy roads, we settle down and realize that the wheels probably will remain attached. In the bar at our hotel that night, we learn that heavy rains have closed the Cassiar Highway, so we will stay on the Alcan. Mare relieves some stress by singing karaoke, which makes me wish I was back at the cabin.

The best part of driving the Alcan south of Whitehorse, Yukon runs through the Northern Rockies, from Watson Lake to Fort Nelson. Jack swims in Muncho Lake, while bears, bison, elk and caribou roam the colors of fall.

Finally, we settle in downtown Vancouver, BC where luxury spoils us. We plunge into paradise with a splurge at the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa, courtesy of Whitehorse Toyota Motors.

We enjoy a fun night in a friendly city. A total stranger with whom we converse pays the tab for our drinks. I cannot remember the last time somebody bought me a drink. We stroll to Rodney’s Oyster House and feast on raw oysters. The staff buy us another drink and throw in extra oysters. A woman sitting next to me at the bar says, “You guys look so wholesome.” I tell her that living on fresh fish in Alaska must have some benefits. Then I pay her tab…hey, pay it forward. Two gals sitting next to Mare ask her, “What’s you’re secret for such beautiful skin?”  Although we don’t pay anymore forwards, this re-entry into the rat race proves easier than we had expected.

NFL football games play the entire next day in our room on the 29th floor. Oh yeah babe, bring on the room service. Our final day tomorrow will consist of finding a “Japadog” (very special street vendor hot dogs) followed by a search for sushi. The following morning we shall head for the lower 48 and see what adventures the abundant universe has in store, perhaps along the Oregon Coast.  Click – Ron Mitchell.