Epic Journey – Part 2

We’ve actually been in part two since our departure from the lower 48 back on May 8th, but spotty wi-fi and near constant travel have slowed down my posting.  Before we go too much farther, I thought I’d better outline the schedule since we don’t expect connectivity to improve.  Plus, I’ll be trying to enjoy the moments and not spend a lot of time writing about them!

Part 2 Itinerary – In Pencil

One thing we’ve learned is that the “plan” often does not pan out.  Fortunately, we seem to end up in a better place or in better weather when that happens.  Missing a campground one night meant we found one better positioned for the next day’s drive to avoid a storm.  Also staying in a not so great place for 3 days to rest meant we missed the underwater road on our route.  So, if we just go with it, everything seems to work out fine.

Part 2 stops include everything up to the point where we enter the main part of Alaska – British Columbia, a few stops in Alaska’s Southeast, and Yukon Territory.  Here’s where our noodling and re-noodling has taken us:

  • 5/8 – Enter Canada – Kaleden, BC (Banbury Green RV Park)
  • 5/9 – Kamloops, BC (Knutsford RV Park)
  • 5/10 – Williams Lake, BC (Wildwood Mobile Home & RV Park)
  • 5/11 – 5/13 – Prince George, BC (Mama Yeh RV Park)
  • 5/14 – Houston, BC (Shady Rest RV Park)
  • 5/15 – Hazelton, BC (‘Ksan Campground – and where I’m tucked in with the computer currently)

All the above already happened of course, and not exactly as we planned, but all good. All are noted on the travel map with a picture for each stop.  Check it out.  Next up:

  • 5/16-17 – Hyder, AK – Yes for you doubters, we will finally make it to Alaska TOMORROW!
  • 5/18 – Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park outside Tatogga, BC
  • 5/19 – Dease Lake, BC
  • 5/20-21 – Watson Lake, YT (Yukon Territory!  I feel remote just typing it.  And this is where we are for sure the cell coverage ends for a while)
  • 5/22 – Teslin, YT
  • 5/23-26 – Skagway, AK
  • 5/27-30 – Whitehorse, YT
  • 5/31 – Carmacks, YT
  • 6/1-5 – Dawson City, YT

From here we will enter Alaska for the balance of the Summer, thus embarking upon Epic Journey – Part 3 and the main event!  Keep in mind, the stuff above will likely shuffle about a bit, and hopefully for the good, but at least you have some idea of where we’ll be.

O Canada!

We were so excited to enter Canada since it really felt like we were getting somewhere.  However, a look at the British Columbia map just shows how much farther we have to go.   A couple of firsts on our first day in Canada.  We successfully complete our first border crossing in 15 minutes.  That included parking and going in for the required background checks.

Fortunately we’re not very exciting in the criminal mastermind department, had only one bottle of wine & a few bottles of beer to show for ourselves, AND no weapons.  We are free to move about the country.

Another first in the first big city.  We discover that we have no coverage on my phone, so no Googling for directions any longer.  Seems we’ve come to rely heavily on that.  Our paper atlas proves to be woefully inadequate in Canada.  This results in missing a turn to the campground and our attempt to turn around lands us in a gravel dead end.  Complete with big pile of gravel, aaaand the dump truck comes to bring more as we are unhooking the car.  Yes, we were in a tight spot and one we could not get out of without releasing Bitsy.  We knew this day would come and at least it didn’t block traffic or require law enforcement intervention.

The easiest thing we did all day was exchange money.  Oooh the pretty colors and the bills have see-through windows.  We are such dumb American tourists.

Driving in Canada

A few observations about driving in Canada.  The road sides are covered with signage.  Everything from badger crossings (I kid you not – there was a sign!) to km/hr to parks to not passing snow plows on the right.  You get the idea.  It was a bit bewildering, plus I was going old-school navigating with the paper map.  We think it was also a psychological game.  We knew we were in another country and just expected it to be tricky.  It really wasn’t.

Some examples of the signs.  Sorry I missed the badger one.  But logging trucks?  Yep!  Lots and lots of logging trucks.  Also no moose sightings yet, but we can now identify moose droppings.

I also shut down the first full day and I’m blaming it on a raging headache.  I was no help at all and the twists, turns, bobs and weaves of the motorhome scared me and the dog.  Fortunately one day only and Pat persevered.

Advantage to no cell coverage and wi-fi – no worrying about nonsense in the news.  The most news we had for a few days was from our camping neighbor.  He told us who was in the Stanley Cup playoff game that night and the unsavory US political scandal of the day.  We had not missed that at all!

Eating in Canada

We thought we had the rest stops on the map figured out.  It was a BC map after all and proving to be much more helpful that the US Atlas we started with.  So, we missed the rest stop I had carefully picked out.  Pat quickly whipped off the road (yes he did – seatbelts definitely required!) when he saw a spot big enough for us at Diner 97.  This was the greatest place.  We had our first order of poutine and I say first because it definitely won’t be my last.  Poutine is a delicious pile of fries covered with brown gravy and normally cheese curds.  Diner 97 style has grated mozzarella instead of the cheese curds.  Fantastic!  We followed this up with hot-out-of-oven lasagna, Canadian-style of course, and finally homemade apple pie and ice cream.  Roll us back out to the RV!

This is the spot where we also learned about mean hummingbirds.  Turns out the diner owner had to get 3 additional feeders due to the one hummer bully.

This is not the bully, but another hummer from another campground.  They are everywhere up here.  Diner guy also told us that the scenery is “shocking” when we get further West.  He also introduced us to the Canadian phrase “right on!”  We’ve heard it now from several people along with the predictable “eh”.

I’ve also learned that a sleeve of beer is 14 ounces, eggs are graded like ours, and meat in Canada is AAA for the best cuts.  Pat has learned that Canadians like their food just like he does.  Nothing to offend anyone and not a bit spicy.

People in Canada

The best thing by far we’ve found is the people.  They are so very friendly.  The campground manager at Wildwood came out of the office with two slabs of chocolate zucchini cake.  Truly hit the spot since this was the day we missed our planned stop and drove longer.

We also met some new friends in Prince George.  We post our whereabouts on RVillage, a social media site for RVers, and it always shows us if anyone else is in the same park or the surrounding area.  At this stop Lyla & Bill reached out to us and we were able to meet them for lunch.  We had a grand time and they told us things the locals know along with  some great stopping points on the way to Alaska.  Believe it or not, Bill is an avid sailor and electrician, so lots in common with Pat.  Lyla and I determined that we are happy to be landlubbers and sit on the shore sipping a beverage.  She made us homemade ginger cookies that were outstanding.  Reminded me of the ginger snaps my mom always brought along on car trips.  I’m eating them as we drive and smiling.

RVillage also got us in touch with another couple also heading to Alaska.  We hope to rendezvous with Cheryl and Dave when we get to Hyder.  They are from Plano, so a fun Texas connection and they, too, have a son named Ethan.

Roadside Oddities

The towns along the way in Canada all have RV and dog-friendly information centers.  In front of most of them, there is some “biggest one in the world” item that just makes you stop for a picture.  I’m sure this is by design.  Here are the ones we’ve stopped for thus far:

Biggest set of cross country skis at 100 Mile House, Mr. PG in Prince George, biggest fly fishing rod and reel in Houston and the lumberjack in Hazelton.  Jackson is not sure if that is a real guy or not.  He did a double take.

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And for my good buddy Wendy.  You can charge up your Tesla at the Kamloops visitor center!

Best of the Best

I have some favorite shots from all the stops so far.  They just do not do this country justice.

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From Kaleden on the banks of Lake Skaha.

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100 Mile House visitor’s Center.  Love the velvety grasses.

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Overlooking Prince George and the Fraser River from LC Gunn Park.  Grumpy weather, but our raingear passed with flying colors.  Also the one campground where we were afraid we might get stuck.  The campground water tasted like metal and even Jackson wouldn’t drink it.

Houston, BC.  Poor cows up to their knees.  The creeks and rivers were over the top due to all the rain and snow melt combined.

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I think we’ve finally made it to “shocking”.  Lucy at the foot of the mountains.

The peaceful walking trail, Jackson reveling in the sun and grass and the boys by the riverbank.

We had to cross this single lane bridge to get to ‘Ksan, where we are now.  It has an open metal grate bottom and it is high.  In a show of solidarity for Pat, I couldn’t look either.  Just straight ahead and hope we make it.  Good job Pat.  Now we just have to do it again to leave!

For once we had a short day so we could sight-see.  We took a drive to nearby Kispiox to see the totem pole village.

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Two more for you.  Top one shows the raging river and the bottom one is at the campground.  Rows and rows of trees like sentries on the high bank.  And the mountains – so very blue.

That’s it for now, and probably will be for a while until we have cell service & internet access again.   I’m taking notes each day so I don’t forget any good stuff.  See you on the way!

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