Lack of internet service has delayed my postings. This blog is long to get me caught up.
BTW, I have taken “moderation” off the comments section so you should see your comments posted immediately. I will read them when we have connectivity.
British Columbia is a “tall” shape when you look on a map. Our journey “north” has actually taken us East on Hwy. 1, North on Hwy. 97, and then West on Hwy. 16. We started our second day in Cache Creek and then traveled the next couple of days towards Prince George and on towards the Cassiar Highway. The Cassiar, now fully paved, will take us to our first stop in Alaska – Hyder. But, as I write this, we are still a day away from reaching that Alaskan border.
Following the Mike and Terry Church guide books and the “Milepost” directory can be a little confusing. Mileage in Canada is stated as kilometers, but the kilometer postings along the road are not exactly accurate because of continuous road improvements and re-routings. The guides also list your distance from particular major cities. For example, we are stayed at Beaumont Provincial Park on Fraser Lake. The Milepost said our location was 85.9 miles (138 km) from Prince George and 361.8 miles (581.5 km) from Prince Rupert. So, if you don’t set a separate “trip odometer” for each leg of the journey, you may be asking yourself, “Are we there yet?”
Speaking of kilometers and miles, the history of travel through many places is told through the names of the communities that bore their distances from someplace. Our travels this week took us through towns called “70 Mile House”, “100 Mile House”, “108 Mile Ranch Heritage Site”, and “150 Mile House”. While we didn’t stop at these places, we did take a break at the Williams Lake Visitor’s Center.
Visitor Centers normally provide parking areas for large RVs, free Wi-Fi, racks of local maps and brochures, and often have a gift shop and snack bar/coffee stand. This one had it all plus a unique display of local outdoor recreational opportunities. You might call this exhibit a “vertical RV”. We didn’t ask how it might do going under the 4.6 meter train trestles. (BTW, our height to worry about is 4.2 meters.)
Frank King looking down on the display from the second story of the Visitor’s Center.
During lunch we set our next overnight destination: 10 Mile Lake Provincial Park near Quesnel, BC. Since Luke wanted to take a power nap after lunch and we wanted to fuel up, the Kings went ahead without us – and just ahead of an incoming rain storm. They stayed pretty dry but we ended up driving with the rain almost all the way to Quesnel. We arrived about an hour later and they had our Boomer Happy Hour waiting for us.
Diesel fuel, with yellow and not green handles, at Williams Lake cost $1.279 per liter. (We are charging our fuel bills so we will have to wait until it posts on our Visa bill to see what the conversion rate and international fees will be.)
From Quesnel our next adventure was getting through Prince George where we stopped at WalMart to re-stock the pantry. While the layouts might be slightly different from those in the lower-48, a WalMart is a WalMart. The good news was the McDonalds inside the building had free Wi-Fi so I was able to post my last blog and retrieve emails. The bad news was Luke wanted a vanilla milk shake and they didn’t have them OR ice cream. He survived.
The adventure was getting out of the parking lot with tight corners and a GPS that gave us directions that I thought were wrong. So, after an extra lap around the shopping center, we found the road our GPS (known as “Claudia”) wanted us to take in the first place and we were on our way.
As to be expected, we have hit highway construction along our journey. Otherwise, the roads have been pretty wonderful with wide, smooth lanes, and long passing lanes. Pull-outs are well-marked. Traffic is now pretty light so driving has been a little easier the last couple of days.
Beaumont Provincial Park
Wednesday, June 1 we opted for a shorter driving day (155.4 miles) and settled in at Beaumont Provincial Park along Fraser Lake. We were excited to have sunny weather and could sit outside for our Happy Hour.
Unfortunately, the Skeeters also thought it was their Happy Hour so it was time to break out our defense systems. Frank broke out his WalMart 99-cent special “yellow” wrist band and we activated our Thermacell (recommended by Boomers Diane and Andy Hitzsel).
Gloria also found time to break out her metal detector and found a couple of coins for her effort. Unfortunately, they won’t buy much diesel fuel.
If you know Luke, you know what he wanted to do – clean the windows and the bugs on the car and the motorhome. Star wanted to go for a walk, but the path to the doggie beach was under water. She didn’t care, but I did.
The evening ended with a nice sunset over Fraser Lake.
Today’s drive was 191 miles and brought us to Old Hazelton, BC. The big attraction here is the Gitanmaxx Band Council’s reconstructed Gitxsan Village adjacent to our campground. We paid at the Visitor’s Center to tour the museum and the village but discovered you could only enter the buildings with a guide and that the last tour of the day (in German) had just left. We did learn that the top figure on the totem pole is not the most important, it is the figure on the bottom which carries all the weight.
I did like the message for travelers they had posted:
Of course, one of the goals each driving day is to look for the wildlife we have heard so much about. Do signs count?
Somebody on my Facebook just asked if mosquitos count as wildlife – YES! – and so do the bugs that hit the windshield!
Well, at each rest area or Happy Hour we compare notes with our traveling partners, Gloria and Frank King, and they are way ahead on bald eagles and moose. (We are not keeping an actual count because we hope there will be just too many by the time we leave Alaska.) Today, for example, they shared their moose sighting: A big rig passed them and then suddenly slammed on its brake to avoid hitting a moose and her baby. Frank said he was glad it happened in front of the trucker, and not him. The moose were in the bushes before a photo could document the sighting.
For us, however, most of my photo ops have turned out to be stuffed bear and moose sculptures in family yards. “Gotch Ya’s”. I had seen a bear with her cubs in a highway ditch, but the photo was too blurry to claim the sighting. Today, however, a black bear ran directly across the highway in front of us. I grabbed the camera with one hand, shouted into the CB with the other, and got a somewhat useable photo. If you look closely in the bushes you will see my friend romping on his merry way.
NEXT: Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska