May 21 Friday
I'm once again laying in bed, when I hear it. Tell me I'm asleep and it's a dream. It's a beeping noise like we have heard the three previous nights. Previously thought to be the beeping of the carbon monoxide detector, the one I unplugged, removed from the side of the cabinet and put into a drawer, last night it was the weather station monitor. Now it was happening again and it wasn't fair. A look at the clock showed it was twelve o'clock midnight, so with sleep fogged brain I set about trying to remember where I had put it.
Eventually it came to me. I'd put it out in the main living area after I had turned off the alarm, or so I thought. Tonight it was making two distinct beeping sounds, good gracious, had the thing multiplied? Turned out that it hadn't, but what had happened was that during my fumbling the previous night to turn off the alarm, I had somehow turned two other alarms on. While a push of a button I turned them off, vowing to get out the manual tomorrow and make sure that all alarms were off. There was going to be no fifth night of being awakened by a midnight alarm.
The best part of all this was that when I returned to bed the local grizzly just kept roaring away in peaceful slumber. Of course once she is awakened in the morning the first words I heard were not, "Good morning handsome'", okay, so she never says "handsome" but guys are allowed to dream aren't they? What I did hear was "Did I hear a beeping again last night?" to which I replied "Yes." She may say she gave me a quirky smile, I think of it more as a barring of teeth, but whatever it was, she then said, "It isn't going to happen again tonight, is it." My answer was a simple, "No", but my thoughts were on a different level and suffice it to say it will be a cold day you know where before that alarm goes off again.
Our plan for the day, which is the beginning of the Victoria Day holiday weekend, was to travel up the Fraser River Canyon and spend the next several days riding out the holiday in a place called Spences Bridge on the banks of the Thompson River. We left shortly before 11 and immediate noticed a significant increase in traffic.
Obviously that's not the heavy highway traffic I was talking about, it does however give an idea of what an up front pull thru site looks like at Wild Rose RV Park in Hope, BC. Having driven up to Hell's Gate the other day we knew what to expect on the drive, something that I really do not like.
That one really wasn't so bad, being short, straight, and with no oncoming traffic.
This one was a little worse, what with it being slightly downhill and with a oncoming car, but at least it was short and straight. There are six tunnels if memory serves me correct, but you must forgive me if my memory is a little faulty because one of those tunnels was this one.
Sloping downhill, curved, loooong, and with a truck in it. Now you can see why I don't remember how many there were. Confined spaces don't bother me, and neither does driving, so what's the big deal with driving through tunnels? Believe me, if I knew I probably would have no problem driving through them. I've learned to just take it easy and soon we are through. All of which means it is a whole lot easier said than done.
Along the way I pulled off the road for a little break from the driving, not because of the tunnels, but because of all the beautiful scenery that was everywhere around us. The drive through the Fraser Canyon is one of the more scenic we have taken, and we concurred with one of our friends' comments about a trip they took to Alaska when they wrote the Fraser Canyon scenery was worth the drive. Just be prepared for tunnels, a lot of up and downs, and some stretches that are narrow and curvy.
Our stopping point for the next few nights is at Acacia Grove RV Park in Spences Bridge. Since this is a big holiday weekend, the holiday that kicks off the camping season, plus the fact we do not have to be in Dawson Creek until next weekend, we are taking it real slow. We've read that this area is sometimes referred to as the "Arizona" of Canada because of the hot dry summers, and low and behold, although we are sitting right next to the Thompson River, there are cactus plants growing in the bank between park and the railroad tracks.
I'll leave a discussion on the railroad tracks, our site, hummingbirds and and other subjects for the next few days. For now I just have to do something that is very necessary.
Got that out of my system, and was it ever good to eat. And no, it wasn't fried potatoes, white, sweet or otherwise. it was fried rutabaga. I'd bought the rutabaga the other day at the grocery while her Ladyship was putting on airs and grilling me on what it was and why was I buying it. She stopped when in exasperation I blurtted out, "Because We Can." When I mentioned that maybe we should have it for dinner tonight, out she came with a barrage of questions. I finally suggested that if she wanted to know all about rutabaga, why not google it.
Surprises of surprises, a bit later she sat down and did just that, then came the crowning moment. I could see she was getting very into this searching business, and I could almost swear I heard her lips smacking. Finally I couldn't take the suspense any longer, asking "well, what did you find." "I think I'm going to like it," says she. "Why," says I. "Because it is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage, two of my favorite foods," was her emphatic reply. Talk about doing something right for a change, this certainly turned out to be a Good Bob Day.
May 22 Saturday
I'm once again laying in bed, when I hear it. Tell me I'm asleep and it's a dream. It's not a beeping noise like we've heard the four previous nights. It's merely the grizzly laying next to me. Hallelujah, not a peep of a beep tonight. Problem is I'm so excited about the banished beep that I have trouble going back to sleep. Yet it is the kind of trouble, that for once, I don't mind having.
As for the day, it was one of sitting around, mainly due to the fact I was fighting off some kind of bug. Hadn't felt the best last evening, all the symptoms of a cold, but with Linda putting me on the all out anti-cold regimen, by noon I was feeling much improved. That woman missed her calling as she should have been in the medical field.
We did take a long walk, but the highlight of the day was the fact we, in a way, went to the birds, or more correctly, the birds came to us. Yesterday Linda had put up her hummingbird feeder and last evening we had our first hummer stop by for a visit. When I opened the curtain this morning there was once again a hummer at the feeder. Before long there were two and that was when Linda decided we needed to to put up the big feeder.
The problem was the old base for that feeder had bitten the dust, but we had brought along some wood to make a new one. Hand saw, electric drill and the help of a certain part of Linda's anatomy to hold the pieces while I cut them meant that the job was soon done.
Then pound the stakes into the ground, insert the pole, the fasten the fittings at the top, add the feeders, and wait for the birds to arrive.
And it wasn't long before they did.
While we didn't do too good on the bird photo front, I can report that before the sun went down we had as many as five hummers feeding at the two feeders, the most we've ever seen at our feeders. To say Linda was one happy girl is a colossal understatement. Totally ecstatic is more like it. To add to that we also had birds at the finch feeder and also at the regular bird seed feeder.
Yesterday I mentioned we would also talk about trains. Maybe I should say whistles and earthquakes rather than trains. We are on the same side of the Thompson River as the Canadian National tracks, while the Canadian Pacific tracks are on the other side. As far as whistles go, both lines blow their whistles when they are in the vicinity of the RV Park, and for some reason we can hear the CP's far better than the CN, even though the CN is much closer.
However we have a much better way of telling when a CN train is passing by, the whole coach begins to shake, not shaky shaking, but just enough to know there is a train going by. At first we didn't know what it was, thinking maybe it was the wind. With the wind gauge registering zero and no trees moving, we decided it had to be something else. The windows open and the view of the very top of a train going by as the shaking took place let us know what the cause was.
I suspect there are some people who would throw a fit at this, but for us, well, it makes a good story. Till tomorrow, and who knows, maybe the shaking will be as effective as those vibrating weight reducing machines they advertise, and to think, it was thrown in for free with the cost of RV Park. Benefits, benefits, these people in Canada think of everything.
May 23 Sunday
Our last day in Spences Bridge got off to a late start because with no beep we got some extra sleep. By the time we, or I should say I arose, since Linda still still enjoying her hours of uninterrupted sleep, those little sugar syrup suckers were hard at work emptying the feeders.
That's the big feeder, and at the same time the little one was also getting drained. It wasn't a repeat of yesterday when we had five hummers at one time, but the four that were there was mighty close. One activity we had planned for the day was to do a little sightseeing around Spences Bridge. While the original bridge is long gone, the rivers are still there, and so we drove to where we could see the Nicola River flowing into the Thompson.
It is interesting how the muddy water of the Nicola flows into the much larger Thompson and is then swept along the Thompson's bank. We could look far down the Thompson and still see the muddy edge where the waters of the two rivers still had not mixed together. Later we drove over to where the confluence point is, and as we were there a train passed over on the railroad bridge. As you can see, the Nicola is a little bigger that it appears from the first photo taken high up on the opposite bank of the the Thompson.
We weren't the only ones who were using the roadway today. There are a number of signs warning motorists that mountain sheep can be found along and on the roadway, and this one had found some very tasty grass that it was definitely enjoying.
We had seen an old church as we had driven into town on Friday, and it turned out to have been built around 1905. It was just before that time that a huge landslide occurred in the town, and between the landslide and the ensuing flood from the waters of the Thompson that backed up, a number of First Peoples died. The area where the slide took place is still a great scar, and the white slash in the center is a very pretty waterfall.
The church itself is rather dilapidated, but is one of those buildings that has an intrinsic charm that demands photographs. We actually learned quite a bit about the church simply because people have photographed it fairly often and have made postings to the web.
Near the church we noticed a cemetery and while walking through it, made an interesting discovery, it had two sections. In one section the graves all faced in a northerly direction and the other they faced the east. It took a while but we finally realized the first section contained the graves of First Peoples, while the second section contained the graves of non First Peoples.
Tomorrow we will be heading north toward Dawson Creek, planning to arrive there on Thursday or Friday, depending on how many stops we make each day and how far we travel. Our goal for tomorrow night is Williams Lake which is about 150 miles north of where we currently are, not a long drive, but there appears to be a number of places worth stopping to visit along the way. Plus, now that I'm over whatever it was that Linda wiped out, and we are both well rested and ready to visit the sights. All in all, we are in no hurry and we'd rather have fun and enjoy ourselves than merely put miles on the odometer.
May 24 Monday
Today is a national holiday in Canada, Victoria Day, named for Queen Victoria, and not that I was expecting the Queen of the coach to be more in touch with us mere commoners today, but I must say that the exhibition of itching, scratching and belching I observed this morning made it seem like I wasn't the only commoner in the coach. Sometimes I think she gives new meaning to the the term - a refreshing nights sleep. That's what I love about that woman, she's just like the rest of us human beings, nothing high and mighty about her. Of course that's just as long as I do exactly as she says, a goal that in over 42 years of marriage I have yet to achieve.
This was a travel day, leaving Spences Bridge about 11:30 and arriving in Williams Lake about 4:30 after driving 156 miles. It wasn't that we were poking along at 30 mph, it was that there were so many interesting things to stop and look at along the way, and for once I held tightly to my wish to take it slow and easy. One nice thing was that while there was traffic in the direction we were traveling, it was nothing like the stream of RV's and pickups pulling trailers traveling in the other direction.
We traveled on our old friend, Route 1 for about 40 kilometers until it turned east heading for its final destination in St John's, New Foundland. Since that is a destination we might get to in 2011, if at all, we turned north on Route 97 which will take us to Dawson Creek where it becomes the Alaska Highway. Some of the nice things about the road is that there are a number of places of historic interest along it, the Milepost giving an excellent description of what you will see, the road being in excellent shape, plus there are numerous areas with passing lanes along with a number of wide pull off rest areas.
It didn't take Linda long to establish a routine, which was find an interesting spot as soon as we stopped and patiently wait for me to realize she was wanting me to take her picture. Lucky for her that I'm so smart as well as good looking, and it only took me about four times to get with the program and diminish the need for her to give me the evil eye look so I would remember what I was supposed to do.
She also enjoyed all the wildflowers growing along the roads and in the field. These bright little yellow flowers seem to be everywhere. The ones we would have called weeds a number of years ago in a past life, but what we now called wildflowers
While the pretty young model in the photo below captures the eye, note all those bright yellow flowers which Linda had taken a shine to, in the grass around her. This was at the 108 Mile Heritage House site where a number of historic buildings and equipment are on display. Driving this road you quickly began to understand why everything is referred to simply as xxx mile. It is after the miles on the original Cariboo Wagon Road which was the distance from the town of Lillooet, BC.
I found all this to be "cool", and that became my favorite word for the day. We saw so many cool things that we could have spent even more time driving that distance. Eventually we did arrive at our destination for the night, Signal Point Gaming, where we planned to boondock in the parking lot for the night. Of course we missed the turn into the place and had to do a little back tracking on a rather interesting side street, but at last we made it. We were surprised there were so few cars in the lot and we were the only RV. We found a spot at the back corner of the parking lot and set up for the night.
That didn't mean we settled in for the night, not by a long shot. Because before we could do that we needed to have a little adult gaming action, which was proceeded by dinner. And even before dinner Linda had a shopping trip mapped out. I, of course, managed to get us thoroughly lost in town, but thanks to our trusty GPS, we found our way to the grocery store. Here is a happy shopper loading up on bittersweet dark chocolate chips.
We had something new for dinner and was it ever good. Along with the left over broccoli, roast beef and juice, we had rutabaga "mashed potatoes". Cubed the rutabaga, boiled it and added some milk and maple syrup before mashing it. Used the juice as a gravy and it was so good we decided to have it again. It may not be what the locals eat, in fact it may be what no one in their right mind would eat, but we sure did enjoy it. But after the dishes were washed, Linda had only one thing on her mind and it wasn't the meal we had just eaten.
The call to the nearby slot machines were beckoning Linda, and she answered them soundly. She spent nearly an hour at the 5 cent slots and it was to interesting watching her totals move up and down. Playing several machines over that time, in the end she came out a winner, though the ten cents she was to the good when she stopped playing wasn't a major addition to our travel fund. An hour's entertainment and they pay you, pretty good. Think she was disappointed though, because she kept talking about the lady playing the machine beside her who was more than fifty dollars ahead. I tried to look at the bright side, which was she didn't lose, but she thought otherwise.
What a wonderful day to just be alive. Great sights, food and fun, plus a grand view of the moon over Williams Lake. North to Alaska, go north, the trip is on.
May 25 Tuesday
The plan for today was to drive to Quesnel, spend the day sightseeing, then in the late afternoon drive up to Prince George and stay overnight at the Treasure Cove Casino, once again boondocking. The milepost showed only a couple of places worth stopping at along the road on the way to Quesnel, and they were all historical signs and markers. Unfortunately they always showed up on the the other side of the road just as were were in the middle of a long downhill descent, meaning we weren't going to get stopped even if we wanted to.
Linda always gives me fair warning, but it seems my speed is always just a little faster than she prefers. I really have no excuse for not knowing how fast we are going in kph, kilometers per hour, no mph up here as it is all the metric system which we like much better than the inches, feet, miles etc system we use in the States. Oh how I wish we could catch up to the rest of the world instead of living in the Dark Ages, measurement wise. Linda has our GPS set up as a speedometer, odometer and travel clock. Then with just a touch of the screen it can show the route we are on. Pretty cool if I do say so, and I'd probably also better mention Linda is pretty smart for figuring it out.
Would you believe it, I wasn't even going the speed limit, which was 100 kph or 62 mph, when I took that photo, . After arriving in Quesnel we left the coach at the Walmart and drove into town in the Explorer. We later learned they have an RV parking area near the downtown where you can leave your RV during the day when visiting, however the Walmart deal worked just fine for us. Our first stop was the visitors center where we found out all the best things there were to see in a few hours we would be in town. Our first stop was at the museum where we saw this badly beat up mulligan pot. Asking a curator what it was, I learned it was exactly what Linda said it was, a pot which was used to make Mulligan Stew.
I don't know about the Mulligan Stew, but I do know that was just about the most beat up pot I have ever seen. By the way it belong to the local 'hanging Judge", and he used it to fix his meals as he made his rounds of the outlying towns. Among the other interesting things the town offers is a walking tour of its painted fire hydrants. We have to admit that in all our years this was the first walking tour of this type we had experienced.
The name of this hydrant, located across the street from the Billy Barker Casino, is "card dealer". Gotta laugh at the view from the rear, especially the two cards he has in his rear pocket. This why we love small towns so much, you never what you're going to find, but at least you can find it.
They also have a very interesting trail that winds along the Fraser River, yes we are back on the Fraser once again, and along the trail are a number of local heritage displays. We both agreed this was another first, our first time ever seeing an actual steam shovel. As you can see, Linda wanted to get real up close and personal with it.
In another first, we got see some bleeding hearts in bloom. We had to agree that they are very aptly named.
We spent far more time in Quesnel than we had anticipated, and have marked it down so that when we make our next journey to Alaska we will spend at least several days in this fascinating little town. The drive to Prince George ended up taking far longer than we had anticipated because of a huge construction project. Much of the time we were traveling at a maximum speed of 20 mph, plus they were watering down the road and muddy water was splattering up on the coach. Then once were through the construction zone and back up to speed we ran into a swarm of small black bugs that felt they should end their lives plastered to our windshield.
We ended the day parked in the Treasure Island Casino lot along with a number of other RVs. After we took this photo even more joined in. We are definitely noticing the increasing amount of daylight as we head north, now there is still some light in the sky after 10 and it seems to start getting light just after 4 in the morning. That makes for a long day, and to think, we will soon be where it is light for some 22 hours a day.
I can't leave off this edition of the Daily Journal without giving Linda proper credit. With another Casino, it was another chance for her to engage once again in some adult style gaming action. For the second night in a row she came back a winner, and tonight she won over 100 times as much as she did last night. That really wasn't what it sounds like since she won all of ten cents last night, but the 11 dollars she won tonight was big money to her. at this rate she should be winning a thousand bucks tomorrow night. In my dreams, in my dreams, but if it weren't for dreams, we wouldn't be on our way to Alaska now, would we?
May 26 Wednesday
Another day of driving planned, the destination is Chetwynd, British Columbia, about 200 miles closer to Alaska than where we currently are. First up this morning was giving $5 to the person in a nearby RV who claimed to be out of money and looking for help so he could buy propane. He probably went into the casino to try and greatly multiply our small donation.
Our first order of business once we got on the road was to stop for diesel. It was there that I continued in the path of what was becoming a bad habit for the day. It was seeming like everything I tried or touched today was ending up the wrong way. I had gotten lost twice this morning driving around town in the Explorer and I had also tried to cut the tip of my thumb off when slicing the tomatoes.
Maybe what had really gotten me in trouble with Linda wasn't what I did to my thumb, rather what I said in reply to her question. The question being, "Is it bleeding bad?" (it was), but my reply, "It doesn't matter if it is because the tomato is red and it won't show anyway," was not the correct answer question. She was nice enough to put a bandaid on it and wrap that with adhesive tape, though her bedside manner may have left a little to be desired.
Back at the fuel stop, when we pulled in we were confronted with a plethora of pumps. We discussed which one she would go in and request a fill-up on, then after she left I realized we couldn't use it as it was dyed fuel. At the time we were in line behind a 5th wheel waiting to pull up to the island area. As I got out of the seat I felt a little dizzy, and one step really confirmed it. Then I noticed something strange, the 5th wheel seemed to be getting closer. Yep, I hadn't put the coach in neutral and set the parking brake when we stopped, thinking I'd soon be pulling up to the pump. World's fastest return to seat and hit brakes followed. Note that I was way back and we were no where close to hitting the 5th wheel, but it still was one of those heart stopping moments.
Of course I wasn't the only one whose day was not the best. Linda, the woman who never touched a drawer or door she completely closed was in high gear. We were going around our first tight curve when the first drawer popped open. Later in the day we heard the beeping of the refrigerator door alarm, and she topped it off by not latching the cupboard door after she fixed lunch. I was happy she had fixed lunch but she wasn't happy about the glass display of petrified wood that came flying out of the cabinet and shattered all over the tile floor a little later.
Besides these things we also had the pleasure of traveling the same way a carnival was going. It didn't take long to figure out how they did things, creep up the hills and go like bat out of you know where when going downhill. Unless there was a curve at the bottom, in which case they just maintained the same speed up and down. I know you're thinking we should have just passed them, and you'd be right. The only problem was there were so many of them, plus we were making a number of stops to look at things along the road or just to rest.
We are also learning that while it appears to be that there are miles and miles of empty space up here, they are very conservative when it comes to putting up buildings. If the building is too small they don't build up and/or out, they just cram more into the building they already have.
Not sure exactly what the "most everything else" could be, but after spending some time in the store looking around, we can assure you they probably had it somewhere in there. Down the road we pulled off at Bijoux Falls Provincial Park, and Linda just had to get into the photo I was trying to take of the falls. This was also where the incident with the flying glass object took place.
Being near the pass over the Canadian Rockies, out near the entrance to the park was a view with the snow capped Rockies in the background. As you can see, Linda seemed to think the best photo would be one with a model posed in the foreground.
The last miles of today's drive seemed to nearly take as long as the first part of the drive had up to that point. This was because of a large construction project had blasting going on, long stretches of single lane traffic, and interminably long waits. It also didn't help that the road was wet and that traffic was sending wet debris flying through the air.
By the time we arrived at our stopping point for the night, in Chetwynd, we were both worn out. Yet however bad we were, the appearance of the Explorer was even worse.
Linda knew just what to do, and was quick to point it out. We got a brief reprieve when dark clouds appeared overhead and the sky opened up. Linda the optimist said it would help soften the mixture of mud and bugs on the front of the coach and all the crud on the Explorer. While it rained Linda was busy on the computer while I tried to eat as many peanuts and chocolate chips as I could without getting sick. I think Linda was envying me.
Once the rain stopped I knew exactly what was expected of me and got right to it. It wasn't long before I had the ladder out and set up making it easier for Linda to get all the washing done. I was real nice and instead of going back into the coach and continuing to munch on chocolate and peanuts, I handed the buckets up to Linda whenever she needed them. Was that being nice or what. Tomorrow is a short day's drive into Dawson Creek where the Alaskan Highway starts, and if the alternator lights gods shine on us the right way by not shining, we should be on our way to the Yukon on Monday morning after spending time during the weekend with our fellow travelers from our 2008 Rick Steves Best of Europe Tour, Dave and Jody, who live in Dawson Creek.
May 27 Thursday
Since we had a short diving day planned, Dawson Creek being only an hour away, if there are no construction projects that is, we spent the morning visiting Chetwynd. It proved to be a town that was worth seeing rather than just a slogan. That slogan being, "The Chainsaw Carving Capital of the World", and do they ever have chainsaw sculptures.
There are bears, aren't there always, swans, eagles, cowboys, wolves, Samuri and many, many other creatures. The carvings from 2009 can be seen here, you didn't think I was going to put up dozens of pictures did you? If you are really into wooden carvings, click the visitor link on that page it will take you to page where you can look at many more carvings.
I thought they were nice enough, but none really caught my eye until we rounded a corner and there it was. I wasn't the only one who liked it, because I thought Linda was going to get out of the Explorer before I came to a stop.
The plaque at the base stated the carving was called "Moose", Linda said, "It's Bullwinkle." I said, "I know what one of the TV shows you used to watch was." We also stopped at the Visitor Center, but never got inside, spending too much time looking at all the carvings that are displayed around it.
Chetwynd is more than just carvings. Many of the buildings in town have a mural painted on them. I found the murals to be more interesting than the carvings. Pretty smart of these Chetwynd folks, have enough different things on display to grab the attention of a passerby, and they just might stop and spend some money in town. Sometimes it is the overall scene in the mural and othertimes it is the details that catch the eye and get the mind to conjuring up more that what the eye took in.
This mural has some things in it that pertained to the history of the area, but as they say, the devil is in the details.
For example, how can you look at that dog and not be transported back to the days of the great gold rush. If the dog is carrying what might very well be the prospector's most valuable possession, his gold pan, what was the miner carrying? Where were they going? The dog's tongue is out, just how difficult was the journey? And on and on. Or how about Johnny Cash on the back side of what is now an abandoned building. Maybe he was once in Chetwynd, maybe it was just a wish that he would have come, or maybe the artist just liked him. Or is that my mind simply wanders to places that it shouldn't go.
While we appreciate different types and levels of art, sometimes we just have to move from the pseudo-esoteric into more mundane areas. Sort of like the difference from being up in the clouds with all their beauty, or down on the ground being pelted with rain and sleet. Well, maybe that's not exactly what it is, but our next stop was at the towns thrift shop. With its excellent selection of nice clean items, and its very reasonable prices, Linda just had to help the local economy. Since I was still caught between all the art outside and the reality inside, I searched for something to bridge the gap.
After doing a little measuring, it looked like the going rate for a book bought in a foot high stack was around 10 cents. Linda had to squash my dreams with, "Ya, and where exactly are you going to put them?" Not that we don't have lots of room for more books, but right now I have almost a hundred paperbacks waiting to be read. Though I really wanted to scarf up a foot or two, it just wasn't going to happen. I can only imagine the great literature, okay, the sappy, poorly written romance novels, I won't get to read. Wouldn't you at least think there'd be at least one gem hidden in a foot of books?
The drive to Dawson Creek was uneventful, the alternator lights gods not shining, and in the early afternoon we were at Milpost 0 RV Park, which is not all that close to Milepost 0, but it is "on" the Alaskan Highway. I guess that means we have joined the fraternity of those who have driven this famous road, even if we have only driven less than 1/2 mile on it to this point.
The RV park seems to be mostly transients, like ourselves and it will be interesting to watch during the day tomorrow as rigs pull in. I also wonder how early the first ones will be leaving in the morning. It was amazing how tired we both were this evening even with the short day of driving. Maybe the excitement of "going to Alaska" has been building day by day, and today the reality of what we are doing caught up with us. It's so great to be living Life.
May 28 Friday
Not a lot went on today so this will be a very short post. After a morning of getting caught up on housekeeping and recordkeeping on Linda's part and a struggle to write the Daily Journal followed by some small tweaks to the website on my part, we got out and about during the afternoon.
There really is a Walmart in Dawson Creek and Linda was on a buying mission. That constant barrage of dust specks and sand grains that find there way into her shoes, have taken their toll. Now she will claim they vary between being really large rocks and small boulders, but whatever they might be called, the end result was a drawer full of holey socks, which with a little judicious weeding has become a drawer with almost no socks.
We drove through the downtown shopping area first, but no store jumped out that might have what she was looking for, so we trekked out of town to the south looking for the Walmart. While not a SuperCenter, it did have what she was looking for. Dumb me, I thought we had stopped so she could buy, but she, the woman who hates to shop, was today, for some unfathomably woman like way into that looking and shopping. Maybe it's a female gene that if they are deprived this type of situation long enough, which stimulates a primal urge to bellow "CAN"T I JUST LOOK AROUND WITHOUT YOU BUGGING ME" [Editors comment: He left out that I also said, "And the next time you can just wait in the car!" True story!]. And death to any poor unfortunate man who doesn't listen and intrudes upon this moment of bliss she is experiencing.
Once she had selected several things that I'm sure she didn't know she wanted or needed, we arrived at the socks. I need socks, I grab a pair that looks good and go. Not her. You'd think this was the most important purchase of the decade. Fortunately we're in Dawson Creek, so the selection was limited. While there is color and style to be considered, the final part of the selection process was something I didn't even realize occurred in socks, which is how tight the elastic is at the top of the sock.
Buy a pair of socks and at some point in time the elastic stretches and maybe they don't stay up so good. Big deal, after all, stretch happens, right? She seemed to be very picky about this, so I decided it was time to once again volunteer my helpful services. Pulling at the elastic tops on a few, I found a pair that would certainly stay up, as that puppy was strong enough to used in bungee jump.
Men should never assume anything when it comes to a woman's mind (repeated 100 times). Once I had recovered from the flamethrower blast of "THAT'S NOT WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR", (seems she hadn't completely forgotten about my earlier bugging of her), I grasped that she wanted the elastic to be weaker, not stronger. Now I was in a quandary, Strong elastic, socks stay up, weak elastic, socks fall down. I also knew that if those socks ever moved even a thousandth of a inch she normally would complain about them bothering her.
Then it came to me, the real reason they do it. I had always thought a woman shaved her legs so they would be stubbly by the time they went to bed. Then they could rub that stubble against their husbands leg, irritating the heck out of him and getting him back for all the grief he caused her during the day. Not so, they do to hold up their socks! What a breakthrough in our relationship. I have finally begun to understand her after all these years! Talk about making my day.
Having finished shopping, we did a little sightseeing around town. Here's the obligatory photo of the Zero Mile Marker on the Alaskan Highway.
The other Alaskan Highway sign that you so often see. It's one of those, "If you'll take our picture, we'll take yours" type of places. Of course the one that was handed to me came with more bells and whistles that the New York Central had in the 1890's. The joys of travel.
There are many things to see in Dawson Creek, and stop at the Visitors Center got us filled in on what's what. We walked briefly around downtown, checked out the Art Gallery, more so for the fact it was in an old wooden granary that the art, and finally stopped in at the local version Home Depot/Ace Hardware. Later walking around the park we noted how much difference a day makes, as the RV park was almost full tonight.
As a side note, the first RV that I saw pullout this morning left at 5:30, and the line of RVs waiting to register for tonight extended the entire length of the entrance road at 11:30 this morning. We are getting the idea that travel early in the day is probably the best way to go. Once we are on the road it will be interesting to see what time the caravans pullout in the morning. I know we will be adjusting our travel schedule to avoid them the best we can. It's also obvious that the earlier one stops during the day, the better the chance of getting a spot in a RV park. Since we don't need hookups at night, except for the occasional need to dump and take on fresh water, we may find ourselves doing a good bit of boondocking along the way. Only time (and Linda's cold feet at night) will tell. So much for today being a short post.
May 29 Saturday
A very brief post today. Lets see if that wording works better than "very short post" did yesterday.
Sometimes it's not what you do, it's what to see. Saw some motion outside the coach this morning, so decided to find out what was going on. Not everyone has a cell or satellite connection to the Internet, some people have to depend upon the wireless at RV parks to stay connected. That was what was taking place this morning.
The immediate thing that was apparent was that the wifi connection in the park may have been a little on the weak side. We watched as he kept fiddling with the keyboard and shading his eyes while peering at the keyboard. Looked like the sun was making it difficult to see the keyboard. Been there, done that ourselves.
This is called "staring at the office in hopes the connection will work." It's also why we are glad we have our satellite Internet connection. We know its going to stop working as we travel north, and while we won't be able to get on-line for a time, we will switch over to another satellite and hopefully be connected once again. If not, you've just been treated to what we will be doing later during our travels.
Linda has learned that a cut dandelion doesn't last long. No problem when you've got acres of them all around. For decades when lived in houses, dandelions were weeds, now they are flowers used to brighten up our house. Interesting isn't it, how a different way of living changes your perspective about seemingly ordinary things.
We spent most of the day with Dave and Jody, whom we would never have met had we not taken a Rick Steves tour of Europe two years ago. We were able to see and visit all kinds of interesting places, which is what happens when you have your own personal tour guides who have lived in an area much of their lives. Historic sites around town, the Farmers Market, local museums, it was just like our own personal Rick Steves Dawson Creek tour. Lunch was a real treat, a small cafe where most of the ingredients were local and organic and they truly practiced a sustainable business model, even down to composting all vegetable scraps. Why is it we see these things happening during our travels in Europe and Canada, but in the US they claim it just won't work? As Barry McGuire sang back in the 60's - sometimes "This whole crazy world is just too frustrating."
In the afternoon we took a drive outside in the country. Dawson Creek, as Dave says, is one of those towns where if you drive five minutes, you are out in the country, then it only becomes a matter of how far out in the country you want to drive. Have you ever visited a wind farm, that visit being the up real close and personal type? We have. It is really awesome to stand there and have those huge blades sweeping overhead. They may look like they turn slowly, but up close you realize that the speed of the blade tips is way faster than you imagine.
It was fascinating to listen to Dave describe the reasons why the wind farm had been sited on this ridge top. It was on Crown land, the winds don't vary greatly in velocity and they are constant. All of which makes this one of the few sites in British Columbia that is suitable for a wind farm. Standing on that ridge top, feeling the gentle breeze blowing and looking down that line of slowly turning wind turbines, it is almost like looking into the future. And this coming from someone who worked for one of the world's major oil companies during much of his former life. To paraphrase Robert Burns with a twist: ah, that the gift be given us to see the world as others see it.
Brief, Bob, the word of the day is brief. Later we stopped at a wildlife viewing area, shopped at the local butcher shop that has been in business for over 70 years, visited the Alaskan Highway museum, and got our "official" Alaskan Highway Marker picture taken by Dave.
We ended the day by attending the local car club spring get-together, which featured a barbecue and of course cars. We arrived in a beautiful red Mustang convertible, with the top down, belonging to Dave and Jody. The guys in the front seat, heater running and the girls in the back, the wind playing havoc with their hair. Having owned two different Mustangs early in the life we previously lived, this was a real kick.
Of course it wasn't all Pony cars, it was a real eclectic mix of vehicles and we both really enjoyed ourselves. The ride home, coming later in the evening, saw the top up, but also interesting things along the road. You know, that special mark that some cars are capable of making on the road, just as wild animals leave a special mark on trail, that lets everything passing by later know they have been there.
Great friends, great fun, great Life. What more could you ask for.
May 30 Sunday
Spent the day with Dave and Jody visiting Tumbler Ridge and Kinuseo Falls.
Dave and Jody picked us up at 9 o'clock for an outstanding day of sightseeing and fun. There are two things that anyone who travels in this part of the world quickly learns. The best things are not "just off the road", and getting there can be an adventure in itself. Such was today.
The town of Tumbler Ridge exits solely because of coal. Before 1982 it was forest, then the coal companies and railroad came and everything change. For a time everything was rosy, then the mines closed. They have once again opened, but that was not the reason we were going there. You see, long before the coal companies, or the coal itself, something else was there, leaving its mark on the landscape.
Living at during the time of the vegetation that eventually formed coal were the dinosaurs which left there tacks which we can see today. They have a nice museum which displays some of the finds. Though finding the museum itself took some doing, there are no signs, so we had to ask at the visitor center, learning it was located on a side road in a former school building.
The nice thing about visiting on a Sunday morning was the wonderful young lady at the museeum had time to talk with us. As you can see I took up far more than my fair share, but she was so passionate about the museum and what was it, plus she had a way of explaining things in layman's terms that brought it all to life. We often say we stumbled on to something great, maybe in this case we should say we tumbled on to something great.
The way the displays were setup also helped you visual how the tracks were created. We got a chuckle at some of the displayed pieces of rock that had tracks on them. It was a case of it's there somewhere, but I don't have a clue. Of course the best tracks were all out where they had been found, unfortunately that was on the other side of the river, and with the high water from spring runoff and the fact you need to wade across the river to see the best tracks, we left that for visitors later in the summer.
Our next, and final, destination was Kinuseo Falls. This is a tale of two cities, well not quite, but it is a tale of a falls and a road. There are roads and then there are roads. In this case it was a road where there were stretches of road, also stretches that call for another description. I think areas of potholes interconnected with small patches of road surface would be the best description. The way Dave was driving you could tell he was used to this kind of road, and I wonder what the northern BC definition of really bad is.
It wasn't all jostling over gravel roads, there were times when things not normally encountered made their appearance. This bear was enjoying the nice spring morning, happily munching away on dandelion blossoms alongside the road. Speaking of eating, we had our own munchie stop in the park where the falls were located. Hot dogs over the open fire and what hot dogs they were. As Dave says, the best hot dogs you can buy are the ones from The Butcher Block in Dawson City. We both would whole heartily agree after eating them. The proof was in the pudding and we both ate one more than we normally do.
The roar and the power of the falls combined with the frothing white water and rainbows in the mist to make for a truly spectacular sight. The falls are higher than Niagara, and the river valley below yields picture post card views galore. The only problem is that photos simply can't do the falls justice, and also with the high water we could not walk along the river at the base of falls to get a better view.
There's much more to talk about and many great photos, but unfortunately we need to get on the road today and start heading North to Alaska. Bet you know what song we will be listening to as we pullout. A great weekend, great Friends, great Life, sometimes we just have to pinch ourselves to make sure it is really happening. Thank you so much Dave and Jody for a fabulous time. And dear reader, always remember, whenever and wherever you travel, you never know who you will meet, but that is the way you meet the nicest people.
May 31 Monday
Memorial Day found us beginning the Alaska Highway segment of our journey north. It is also a day to remember those whose lives were lost in the defense of our country. It is always a special day for me in that, I always wonder what my brother might have become, and what nephews or nieces I might have been able to spoil, had he not died in Vietnam. Old politicians decide to "go' to war, but young kids pay the price. Would there be as many wars if our President had to emulate the Kings of old and actually physically lead his army into battle? The living say war is worth it, the dead have no say. Am I bitter? Maybe, but regardless, I, just like everyone one else, have the opportunity to vote.
This morning was interesting to say the least. It started early and continued up until the time we left. It, being a steady stream of RVs leaving the park joining the RVs we could see out on the Alaskan Highway in front of the park, all heading north. We didn't leave at the crack of dawn like some did, having to do some shopping at the local hardware store prior to the day's drive. It was 10 o'clock when we pulled out and after a brief stop for fuel, drove to our first sightseeing stop of the day.
Located on an old original section of the Alaskan Highway, a short distance off the new Alaskan Highway, this is one of the original bridges built in 1942. Add to that, the fact it is a wooden bridge and also curved, it was something we just could not pass up. As before, we go through the Milepost the prior evening, highlighting the sites that interest us, then Linda keeps watch to see that I don't drive past too many of them. That wasn't going to happen to this one.
Not long after leaving the bridge, and having encountered our first stretch of gravel road, still on the old original section of road the bridge is on, Linda exclaimed, "There's a bear up ahead." Bob the skeptic wasn't sure. Yes there was a black dot up ahead, but a bear? Wasn't long before I was proven wrong. That black dot you see is indeed a black bear. Excuse the photo, but Linda was busy using the video cam and I was busy driving, albeit very slowly. By the time we got close enough for a good photo, the bear decided it would rather be anywhere but where it was was, and all we saw was a bear behind disappearing into the woods. Anyone who says a bear can't run fast has probably never seen a bear run. They can flat out skedaddle when they have a mind to.
Much of the road was rolling terrain, but at times we had awesome vistas and steep grades. It seemed like we could literally see almost all the way to Alaska as we started down this grade.
But what we were really looking at was this.
That was one serious grade, especially with the 10% section in the middle. It was a downgrade where everyone, cars included took it easy. However the modern road has been greatly improved over the original. Take this sign which gives the name of one of those "hills" on the original road.
Speaking of suicide, we were almost part of one. Descending one long hill we noticed movement quite a distance off to the left. As we got closer we could could see it was a deer, and its projected trajectory was on a course that would intersect ours. With great determination, it was charging ever closer for all it was worth. Utilizing my superior animal evasion driving skills, all which were learned in conversation during our travels with Dave and Jody this past weekend. I was able to brake enough and at the right time to allow it cross in front of us. Linda meanwhile, let out her breath long enough to take a photo as it zoomed by. It's the kind of thing that gets your heart to thumping a tad more than normal. Isn't it interesting how, in those moments, we seem to be more concerned with what the deer will do to the RV than what the RV will do to the deer.
While the caravans and many others opt to drive the 300 miles to Fort Nelson on their first day out, we decided to stick as much as practical to 100 to 150 miles a day. Today that was Sikanni Chief, and with the stops for sightseeing we make along the way, it made for a nice spot to spend the night. I think I've already learned what Linda's first order of business is whenever we stop for the night. Maybe bugs bug her, or maybe the windshield washers just don't get it clean enough, I know they don't on my side, so soon comes the request for me to get out the ladder and within minutes our windshield is nice and clean. Today it was moderately buggy, it will be intersting to see what the future brings.
Our site was alongside the river, the weather was nice, so we sat out and read, no Internet as we were down in a valley, and planned to grill hamburgers for dinner. During this time we discovered the dryer had not done what it was supposed to do this morning, and so we took our still damp clothes over to the laundry room. This sign caught my eye, and it illustrates the difference between Canadian and US money. Unlike the US, Canada along with much of the rest of the world use coins instead of low denomination bills, no one dollar bills here.
Loonies and toonies, what a great name for their one dollar and two dollar coins, and the toonie is somewhat similar to the two Euro coin we used so much in Europe. The US, we may be big and powerful, but doesn't mean we are very smart. How the eyes get opened through travel. We did have an old fashioned American style Memorial Day picnic though, hamburgers, beans and cole slaw, was it ever good. In fact it just might be back by popular demand tomorrow night.
Later we took a walk along the banks of the river as the sun stayed out in the sky. We are now to the point where we find ourselves going to bed when it is still light and getting up to very bright daylight. All I can think of is my Dad telling me if you get up after the sun's up, you've wasted half the day. Between being tired from the excitement of the drive, and the fabulous food we are eating, my old way of sleeping is slowly being eroded. The great thing is it isn't bothering me. Well, not too much.
During our walk Linda just had to add a rock to this cairn. What a great time we are having, and the journey has just begun, well the Alaska Highway portion that is, since we had to drive some 1800 miles to get to the start of the highway from California where we were visiting our children and grandkids. And what about just a few months ago, when we were in Mexico, but it's not the miles we look at, it's the memories. May your days too, be filled with wonderful memories.