Every dog owner has a unique story to tell. This one is ours. It`s an unusual story that started a few years ago on the other side of the world…
In 2011, my school life came towards an end and I more and more asked myself what to do now. Like many other young adults I felt the urge to make a long journey. For years, I already had in my mind to go to Canada one day, far into the wilderness.
After school life is one of the few moments to make dreams come true, so it didn`t take me much time to decide to just do it. I took all my savings, sold my beloved small car and with the support of my family I had an amount of money that was enough to survive. Luckily, my girlfriend Lena also came along.
Let`s go to Canada!
With a Work and Travel Visa we went to the West of Canada for three months, more precisely to Vancouver. In my opinion, this city is really impressing and – besides Sevilla – one of the most beautiful ones that I have seen so far. The cleanliness, friendly people, the sea, the snow-capped mountains and the diversity of cultures make Vancouver one of the most liveable cities all over the world.
We both were yet too young to rent a car (20 and 19 years) and that was the reason we already decided to buy a car before we went to Canada. A car where you can sleep in. Because it`s much cheaper than always sleeping in hostels. We know that very well, since we slept in one of them for two nights. Accordingly, we bought a very nice Chevrolet Astro Van on the second day. You just go to some car salesmen, decide and on the next day you got a car.
We started our trip up country via the touristic highlights Banff, Lake Louise, right through the middle of the Rocky Mountains. It is indeed interesting to see those attractions, but actually it was also disappointing. For me, a large number of tourists stands in contrast to the idea of Canada with its loneliness, tranquillity and wilderness. What does it matter when I can say that I canoed on Lake Louise? I think it`s also a good story that I was too stingy to pay 35(!) dollars for canoeing for 30 minutes. After let`s say one minute, we already left the place, but there was time enough to take a souvenir photo.
In contrast, the car journey was worth every second. Just turning on the speed control and watch.
When we just got past the Rocky Mountains, the alternator of the car broke and we had to stop just before Calgary. That was the first time we got to know the friendliness of Canadian people. Two older guys gave us enough power to start the van up again. The did not left us before one of them came back, only to give us a bag full of cherries. A small, but quite “refreshing” gesture. Sadly, the alternator forced us shortly after to stop again and so we left the highway and wheeled to a small industry park. We were extremely lucky, because we wheeled directly to the parking lot of a garage. They changed the alternator and we could continue our ride.
The breathtaking landscapes at the beginning now changed into boring, flat areas – Alberta. It sounds like the name of a German cow, but in reality it is the federal state directly next to British Columbia. It is so flat that even German cow Alberta would love it here.
No Money, but a lot of cherries
After some detours, we came back to the South of British Columbia in a small village called Okanagan Falls which is placed at the beautiful Skaha Lake. Our travellers cheques were all redeemed and a bank transfer of the rest of our money from Germany did not work. As a consequence, we had no money for a whole week (okay, that was a lie. According to our travel book we still had 2,37$). It turned out that this place was in the middle of a wine-growing region (!) and it was time for the harvest of cherries.
We just asked some random people and ended up on a research facility and untreated fruit, where we helped out for two days. Unfortunately, they didn`t have more work, but luckily, their neighbors needed all the help to pick their cherries. You should know that a neighbor in Canada is not just a neighbor with a garden. It is more a neighbor with a big garden. A very big garden. Or even a whole plantation or farm. We had enough work for a whole week, earned a few hundred dollars and with a succesfull bank transfer we now could continue our journey, but where should we go to?
Into the Wild…
One option in the beginning was to travel the whole way from western Canada to eastern Canada, but flat Alberta kind of deterred us. Spontaneously, the idea came up to do something quite crazy -> driving from the most southern point close to the US American border up to Alaska! After I have watched several films, documentations, books and in particular the movie “Into the Wild” and read the book of the same name, Alaska became some sort of place of longing. The story is inspired by the true story of a young man who made a long journey to Alaska, self-discovery and stuff. I don`t wanna say too much, but the whole story was kind of cool. Wilderness. Nature. Loneliness.
No sooner said than done: In the first place, the destination was Dawson City, the famous and formerly biggest gold mining town all over Northern America. One way: 3200 km north.
By and by, the distances between the places and towns got longer and longer and the civilization appeared to be removed. After a couple of days, we reached the Alaska Highway. A tarred road, far off the big traffic. You really appreciate that, if you find yourself in such regions. What you now see more and more, are wild animals like caribous, black bears and one in the middle of the road chilling herd of bisons.
After around one week we reached Yukon. The federal state equals Germany`s area four times, but only contains 35.000 inhabitants. It corresponds the real imagination of a lonesome, wild life in the North of Canada. Right at the beginning there was a touristic attraction, the Signpost Forest at Watson Lake. Throughout the last decades, more than 100,000 signs were brought here from people all over the world!
Now, there were gas stations every few hundred kilometres, some with showers for the travellers. The petrol price now has doubled compared to the South and was more expensive than in Germany – What cheek! We took the last section with around 600 km via the capital Whitehorse.
Just a few villages were indicated in the map. Okay, actually it was a couple of houses. But the houses had names like villages. Meaning that the there were villages consisting of a single house. You find that out first when you drive endless distances and at one point you ask yourself if that village should have come already since long. Well, it doesn`t matter, since at every stop there was “World Famous Chickenburger/ Pizza/ Steaks/ Fries“. Main thing, something full of fat. Yummy!
The North of Canada, gold diggers and the animal shelter
At some point, the forests changed to a barren landscape and the North Pole was in reach (just another 2895 km) – Dawson City. Here, my life should change long-lasting, but let`s have a look at the “town” first. During summer, Dawson has around 2000 inhabitants, during winter just one half. Only because the temperature is around minus 50. Wimps. Every corner of the village reminds one of the legendary gold mining time. Saloons, the architecture, a steamship, everything that history teachers would love. The famous Jack London, well-known by literary scholars and alcohol abusing, lonesome backwoodsmen (“The Call of the Wild“, “White Fang“), lived not far from here and still today, you can visit his former accomodation.
Everything blended into the picture, except the cars…but, well. We had one ourself, so. On the next day I googled, if there wasn`t an animal shelter by accident. Of course every dump has one…not. But Dawson indeed had one. So, why not just going there and adopting a dog? 🙂
By that time, I didn`t know yet, what consequences this idea would have…