Tok RV park was a splendid place, with well kept lawns, an abundance of trees, and substantially less mosquitoes than we have become accustomed to! It also had Fast Eddy’s, a restaurant nearby which as you may recall from the last blog post, served delicious food. This may not seem like much if one was to just stay the night and push off first thing in the morning, but it is important for those spending more time in such a place. Quite unexpectedly, we woke up early to find that we would fit into the latter category this time round…
Upon waking up each morning, members of team RGE perform a fairly standard routine which involves stumbling out of the RV into the 24/7 daylight, and checking that the chargers have done their job and charged the car up full to the brim. On this occasion however, the car was not charged up…not even close! We attributed this to an overnight power failure as the car and chargers were still working fine. So we plugged everything back in, got the car charging again, and waited for it to charge.
This is where Fast Eddy’s and their extremely friendly staff helped a lot because, despite the rain and cold, we had a warm and spacious place to eat, drink coffee, and glue our noses to whatever internet-giving devices we could lay our hands on. A few power cut free hours later, the car was charged up, the team was doped up on caffeine, and it was time to hit the road!
Normally, we try and get between 250 and 300 miles done per day as this requires only one charge and means not too many hours are spent driving. However, on the days in which we are scheduled to cross borders, as we were today (US to Canada) we have to give ourselves extra time. So, on this occasion, we chose an RV park about 20 miles past the border in Beaver Creek, and shortened the day to a meagre 140 miles.
About 40 miles on from Tok, the road deteriorated rapidly, and in some stretches speeds as low as 25mph had to be endured as even the big SUVs had to navigate around elephant-sized dips and loose, uneven gravel. The poor quality of the road is actually due to efficient maintenance rather than the other way around; the ripped up carriageway is part of the process of repairing it and bringing it up to a quality standard. This is more difficult than in other parts of the world as freeze-thaw conditions and copious amounts of melt water during and after their long winters all contribute to yearly road damage. But the SRZero continued through it all without any problems, and 80 miles later, we reached the US-Canadian border…
…well that’s what we expected to happen! The reality was that all of a sudden we saw a sign saying “Welcome to Canada” with not a border guard in sight. It was here that Clemens’ homework paid off; while the rest of us were laughing about how lax the border was (or seemed to be) Clemens was asking us to stop and turn round! We had forgotten to have the Carnet signed; an official document detailing every item of equipment we have with us to prove that nothing that had been imported into the US had been sold or retained inside the US.
So, back up the hill we went until we reached the US border (now from the wrong direction!) where we were greeted by a very enthusiastic border guard. The conversation goes something like the following:
Guard: “Hi, how are you?”
Clemens: “Fine thanks” as he mumbles something and gets out the car to have a friendly chat with the border guard.
Guard: “REMAIN IN YOUR VEE-HICKLE!” he shouted.
Clemens scurries back in.
Guard: “YOUR PASSPORTS!” he exclaimed, followed by general murmurs of approval as he checks our faces against our passports and scans them through his machine. Much time is spent thumbing Clemens’ passport with a very perturbed expression; clearly he wasn’t a fan of the 2 Iranian visas in there!
Guard: “Is this your motorhome?”
Clemens: “No, we’re hiring it and depositing it in Seattle.”
Guard: “OK, let me see some proof of the vee-hickle rental and registration.”
Toby passes across some documents to the above effect.
Guard: “The rental seems in order, but you have given me the user manual for the motorhome. I do not need this.” He hands back said document.
Alex: “But the vehicle registration document is in the back of that folder.”
Guard: “I will ask you for that document when I need it!”
2 seconds later…
Guard: “Let me see the vehicle registration document!”
Anyway, you get the gist. But everything was signed and handled efficiently, and we weren’t delayed for too long. The SRZero, as usual, got preferential treatment and was waved through without much hassle. From the border post we followed an incredibly scenic route through no man’s land until we reached the official border, and incredibly, the border between Canada and the US could be visibly seen. In the forest separating these huge nations was a massive tract of trees that had been felled to mark the border. Dead straight, it extended in both directions for as far as the eye could see…quite amazing actually!
A few miles later we arrived at the Canadian border post where we were greeted by a friendly woman who made light work of our passports and Carnet. She even knew that the SRZero was electric, and she asked a few more questions, more out of curiosity than duty I suspect. Unlike the previous border, she was quite content to allow the team to film and photograph the whole experience, and so it was after a pretty easy and hassle-free day that we entered Canada. First border completed!
After a few more miles, we turned off the road into Beaver Creek RV, one of a handful of buildings in this incredibly small population centre. The weather and scenery was fantastic, and provided the perfect backdrop for an SRZero first; doughnutting! In front of the RV park there was a big gravel yard, and with the SRZero’s fantastic power and handling, we were doughnutting away to our hearts’ content, much to the amusement of the assembled locals!
Doughnutting on dry gravel has a side effect though; lots and lots of dust! So we decided it was prudent to take the car apart and do a full on service and clean. So it was for the next couple of hours that we happily tinkered away on the car while the sun imperceptibly inched towards the horizon, and the barbeque crackled away on the side. After putting the car back together and plugging in all 3 chargers, which were working flawlessly now, we ate a fitful meal of sausages and burgers. The setting was fantastic.
But then, the evil software monster had to rear its head! Toby and Alec, the team’s software gurus, wanted to try a new software update that would enhance our data collection. So after uploading the new software, it was time for a quick test. Two metres down the road however, it conked out, bringing back memories of problems we had just before shipping out the car. Fortunately however, it was the wrong software that was uploaded, and very quickly we had the right software on and everything worked again…a great feeling! After a few more minutes scrounging wifi off the local petrol station, it was time for bed after an initially frustrating, but ultimately very enjoyable and productive day.
Photos to come soon!