The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Heading South: Watson Lake to Dawson Creek

Today’s blog actually covers Aug. 2-5 when we traveled about 604 miles from Watson Lake to Dawson Creek in British Columbia.  Overnight dry-camping spots included the very scenic Summit Lake CG in the Stone Lake Provincial Park and the simple Buckinghorse PP.  When we reached civilization again on Friday, we settled into an electric and water (E/W) site at Mile Post “O” CG in Dawson Creek. Yea, free Wi-Fi!  Got caught up on emails and posted a brief Facebook update.  More on Dawson Creek later.


The Summit Lake CG sits on a point on the south end of the lake.  It had a unique, elevated outhouse with solar panels and a boat ramp that Star got to visit, but not take a dip in.


Weather was gorgeous and we actually had a chance to sit outside for a Happy Hour and Burger BBQ with Gloria and Frank King.



Our drive on Wednesday was exciting because of all the wildlife we saw. (See Wildlife section below).  Thursday, however, was a totally different story. 

After re-fueling in Fort Nelson, BC, we encountered a lot of road construction.  Unfortunately, about 55 miles south of town, a pothole came up and bit the Kings’ Montana 5th Wheel.  A large “bang” noise got their attention and, as soon as possible, they pulled into a roadside pull-out and discovered they had broken a spring!  The chassis was touching the top of a trailer’s tire so they were going no where.  Luckily, there was room off-the-road enough for both of our rigs.  Double luckily, we had cell phone coverage to call for road side assistance help.


RVers are pretty good about maintaining comprehensive road assistance coverage .  The two biggest providers, Coach Net and Good Sam, are who you call if you breakdown, lock yourself out, or run out of fuel.  Unlike AAA, they specialize in recreational vehicles and generally are better at getting the appropriate help or appropriate tow service that can handle your size RV or problem.  Canadian coverage is included in these plans.

For the Kings, calling Coach Net was a nightmare.  Even though we were able to give the call center attendant their exact GPS coordinates and kilometer road marker distance on the ONLY road for hundreds of miles in British Columbia, the young thing on the other end of the line did not understand that Canada uses kilometers, and not mile markers.  She also could not comprehend that there are places in North America where you cannot give a cross-street name or go into a local store to ask for a recommendation on where to get help.  After more than an hour of calls back and forth, she still tried to dispatch some type of help (she wouldn’t say what type) from a town more than 500 miles south of our location.  It took an angry call to a supervisor and another agent before the Kings were put in IMG_6568touch with Archie’s Towing Service in Fort Nelson.  Frank and Archie discussed the problem, measurements were provided, and within an hour, George the technician was on scene to replace the spring onsite within another hour. 

 Frank had previous experience with spring replacements so he provided on-the-job training to George, a very cooperative technician. (Luke was an interested observer.)



George gives a big “thumbs up” after getting the spring replaced on the Kings’ Montana 5th Wheel.

Bottom line, the dispatched service call was paid for by Coach Net and the parts and labor were paid, as expected, by the Kings.  Unfortunately, the bungled calls with “Customer Service” will probably cost Coach Net a customer.

While spending 4 hours next to a highway gravel storage pull-out, we were able to put out the chairs, sit in the shade, and have a somewhat “happy” hour.  Once we were back on the road, we found a small provincial park in Buckinghorse, BC.  Dinner was a quick fix – whole wheat pasta with garlic shrimp.  (Thanks, Gloria for sharing your Costco special garlic blend.  It will get used on lots of goodies.)



Just our luck, there was no one around to take a photo of the four of us together!

Some people START their trip to Alaska at Milepost "O" in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. This is where we "finished" our 5,919 mile, 75-day trip (so far). We left the Sacramento area on May 24 and traveled with Frank and Gloria King through OR, WA, BC, YT, and many stops in Alaska. We headed north via the Cassiar Hwy. and then picked up the AK Highway up to Delta Junction (the official “end” of the Alcan.  Now, on our return trip we picked up Hwy. 1 in Tok and completed the parts we missed earlier.  We can now claim that we drove the entire Alcan Hwy. 

Documenting our stop at the “official end” of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction.

On Saturday morning (today) we said our “good byes” with SKP Boomer Hugs as we split to go in separate directions for a while.  We are headed south to East Wenatchee, Washington to visit friends Howard and Janet Pelton, while the Kings head to Jasper and Glacier National Park in Montana.  We will catch them later this month at Escapade (Escapees RV Club national rally) in Gillette, WY. It's been fun with lots of stories about “stuff”.

IMG_6610We celebrated our travels with dinner out at Boston Pizza followed by dessert at DQ, a IMG_3105favorite stop in our travels.





As mentioned above, Wednesday’s drive was the busiest we had encountered when it came to wildlife viewing on this trip.  A re-check of my driving notes and animal counts in the photos taken indicate we saw (at least) the following:  1 llama, 1 dear, 2 caribou, 5  black bears, 32 stone sheep, and approximately 45 bison! Not all stood still long enough to capture decent photos. These did….

Just outside Watson Lake the llama ran in front of the Kings and then stood along the road until we passed.  We suspect it had escaped from its owner.  This bear didn’t mind our stopping to watch him eat grass along the highway.  The deer just wanted to get safely across the road.

The bison and stone sheep sightings, our first on this trip, were anticipated because they were well publicized in the Milepost guide book and in multiple highway sign warnings. We saw multiple herds of the bison walking or grazing along the highway above the Laird River and near the Laird Hot Springs.  We counted at least 33 bison in one herd near Fireside.  Others were in smaller groups or solos sunning themselves along the highway frontage.



I wouldn’t like to run into this big guy as he crossed back and forth across the highway.  I think we would lose!

While bison will stop any on-coming traffic with bulk size, stone sheep can stop the biggest truck or motorhome with their cuteness.  They frequent the roads where they lick the minerals on the ground.  This was one of multiple flocks we saw near Muncho Lake and Summit Lake.


Who could argue with that look.  Certainly, we will be careful passing your family!






Helen said...

Judy, Don't know your route for sure but if you are coming into Washington at Sumas be sure not to miss Minter Gardens that is North of Abbotsford.. Beautiful.. I believe it is on Canadian Highway 1

Well worth several hours and simular to Bouchart Gardens in Victoria..

Helen Moll

Judy and Luke Rinehimer said...

Helen, Thanks for the tips. We came through Sumas heading north and did stop at those gardens, but just for lunch in their parking lot. (Too cheap on that first day into Canada.) We have previously been to the Victoria gardens.