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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

3 Hours from Home And Back Where I Started This Wacky Adventure.

I'm back in the Highland Valley of B.C. At Lac Le Jeune Provincial Park,just a few miles from where I was when I made the decision just over a month ago,to maybe just go north and explore the Yellowhead Highway between Prince George and Prince Rupert..........Boy!...How that evolved!...Ending up 200 miles above the Arctic Circle......Wow! what a crazy,unplanned ride,that I'll never regret...I've logged 8555 kilometers/5312 miles,since leaving Tunkwa,just down the the road from here,on July 14.
Since my last entry on Saturday from Fort St. John,its been 2 full days of driving and not much photo taking,I guess I've seen so much fantastic scenery on this trip that after a while every nice view seems just like the last and you tend to stop taking pictures.
To go back to Sunday morning,a perfect driving day and an early start got me down the last 50 miles to the "Mile 0" marker of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek B.C.(pic above)As you can see the streets are quiet in this clean and pretty little town,although it was still early as the Wal-mart parking lot still had plenty of overnighters still parked.
Within the next hour of travel in a southeasterly direction,I crossed into Alberta where within minutes I had my first big "wake me upper"as a car was passing me going the same direction,a deer jumped out from the left,causing the driver to swerve in front of me then hit his brakes.
He was just a few feet in front of me........well, the only casualty was I underwear.
After that I needed a junk food fix at Grande Prairie's "Albert and Walter",below.

From Grande Prairie,I turned south on Highway 40,for a 200 mile run through beautiful foothill country to hookup with the Yellowhead Highway at Hinton.
One thing I like about travelling on the Prairie's,is it seems every little town has a nice little public park with R.V. sites,such as the one at I believe, Beaverlodge,where I conveniently stopped and used their dump station,and found when I went to find someone to pay,that there was no charge.All these town parks seem to be well grassed and treed.(should have taken a photo)
I made my Sunday night stop at one of dozens and dozens of recreational camping areas along this 200 mile stretch of rolling wooded countryside,that has occasional views of the mountains to the west.The stop was at Pierre Greys Provincial Park,a nicely wooded 4 campground loop around several lakes.In fact it was too wooded to be able to set up my satellite dishes....The reason for no blog Monday.
Yesterday,another early start and the last 50 miles down to the Yellow Head Highway and after gassing up in Hinton,headed west toward Jasper National Park,seen in the shot below.It was time for "through the windshield shots" as I tried to make some time.Really I saw nothing in Jasper to top what I'd already seen on my northern trip,even the one elk that I saw,was surrounded by about 15 tourists with cameras...The poor thing had nowhere to go.

Then there was the "in the park" road construction,waits....This one below was a 20 minute break while they cleaned up the rock from the road from blasting the hillside.

Mid morning and back into B.C. as the weather was cool and cloudy and just in the 50's.but as I headed south off the Yellowhead onto highway 5 toward Kamloops,it started to brighten up and by the time I arrived in Kamloops around 4pm,the temperature had reached 85.The first time that I have had to use the A/C for awhile.
This nice glacier between Blue River and Clearwater was a must stop.

This is the aftermath of the Barrier fire a few years ago,that threatened and even burned into the town a bit if I recall.

Finally,up the hill from Kamloops and slightly cooler temps at 3000 ft and the Highland Valley.This campground used to be well wooded until the Mountain Pine Beetle came along,now its a treeless former shell of itself.Although the picture doesn't show it looking that bad.

So this morning I make my final 3 hour run for home in the Fraser Valley.This will probably be the last blog entry until I hit the road again in November,when I make my usual snowbird trip to the great desert southwest and maybe again,Mexico.
The title says it all....If Wandering Willy isn't wandering......He isn't blogging.
I hate to lose the following that I've built up on this trip,and I really appreciated all the kind comments,so keep checking for any updates that I might put in from time to time and hopefully my blogging friends who have links to this site.....will spread the word when I start again....Take Care All.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Charlie Lake Provincial Park--Fort St.John B.C.

I got a nice Early start yesterday(Friday)from the Summit Lake Campground and immediately the decent started out onto the eastern side of the great divide.Above is a shot looking back from a viewpoint,at the northern Rockies.The shot below is also taken from the same spot as you can see the land is flattening out.
And after more descending,the countryside looks like this below.A lot like the country west of Prince George,where I showed a similar photo.Actually all the way to Fort Nelson was a very pretty drive.

I arrived in Fort Nelson in the late morning.Its another one of those towns in the middle of nowhere,that is a service centre for the area.It has about 5000 people. Many of these towns seem to be built with a parallel service road on each side of the highway with the businesses strung out over quite a distance.The main highway is to the right in this shot.
From there we head south on the Alaska Highway toward Fort St John and the Peace country.The whole southward trip was a mix of heavy rain showers and sun,at least it washed the bugs off the windshield.I arrived at Charlie Lake which is just 11k's north of Fort St. John about 3pm and to my surprise for a Friday, found the campground fairly quiet,not even a quarter full.I selected the best spot I could as I wandered around with compass in hand,to get a clear shot for the satellite dishes.As you can see in the photo below,the Internet dish is almost out on the roadway.Just think this blog is coming out of that thing right now.
So now we are up to today.This morning I went into Fort St. John, a small city of about 20,000 with an area population around 40,000.Its actually the second largest town on the Alaska Highway after Whitehorse.I gassed up at the Safeway,got 7 cents a liter off with my Safeway card....I like that...then drove around looking at the place.

One of the first things I noticed was that all the sports complexes are in one area near the Mall,even an indoor rink for the little guys and another for the rest of the peeps.
And look below at the brand new Olympic size Arena being built.Seems to be quite a sports town.
Here's the Totem Mall across the road.I had to go into "Staples"and buy a new flash drive because I couldn't load any more pics into my "puter"cuz the C drive was full.Time to clean house I guess.

On the way out of town I noticed something I thought was amusing.Below is a pic of McDonald's and notice the name of the business next door.Its a car wash.

And finally a big hotel in the outskirts which houses a "Chances"and a Tony Roma Restaurant along with the Hotel.All in all not a bad little city for the far north.Of course this is a big oil and gas area.When I was leaving Fort Nelson earlier,I saw a huge gas processing plant on the southern outskirts.

So tomorrow I hit the road again for the final 50 miles of the Alaska Highway to Dawson Creek,And by the way,the highway is really in good shape.There are some dusty repair area's,but all in all a great highway.And fairly quiet,which makes the drive even more relaxing,especially if you do come upon wildlife by the road,stopping doesn't create a problem with so little traffic.
By tomorrow night I should be stopping around Grand Cashe Alberta,then the next day passing through Jasper National Park and back into B.C. and down through Blue River to Kamloops.That will be my round trip as I started this little journey a month ago from the Kamloops Area.Should be home Wed/Thurs.

Friday, August 14, 2009

From Whitehorse To Summit Lake...My First 2 Days Down The Alaska Highway.

Wednesday the 12th of August......I got an early start out of Whitehorse on a sunny crisp day,and this time I had clear Sky's and no smoke as I retraced my route taken a couple of weeks ago..I didn't take any pictures as I had covered this area before,but saw things I didn't see before because of the smoke.
Above is the nights stop at a place called "Campground Services" just east of Watson Lake.Its a service centre with a fairly nice campground in behind.I was the first in for the day,so carefully selected a spot which allowed me access to set up my satellite dishes.I figured that I'd probably be pretty much alone anyway......BOY! Was I wrong..In came the hoard a few hours later,I've never seen such a running around screaming,people cutting through my site,even cutting off my signal as I was watching the news,sheeesh!I watched one motor home owner who couldn't decide where to park,move all over the place,finally crowded in practically against another poor citizen.I'm beginning to be thank full that I stayed off the Alaska highway for most of my trip.I didn't realize how good I had it.
As a side note,they had a strong wifi signal throughout the camping area,so it saved me having to set up one dish anyway.

Thursday August 13....Another early start around 7am,as I backtracked into Watson Lake just to go and see the famous "Sign Posts."I had no idea that there were so many of them.No wonder people cant find signs they put up on previous trips.
I had the road pretty much to myself as I headed south toward the B.C. border,it was very foggy in places,so had to watch out because of the wildlife on the road,"signs".
And just as well because out of the fog came this Wood Bison,just wandering down the side of the road,heading somewhere.Maybe he was "Duty Bison" for the days photo ops.
A little further along,the fog had lifted and as I passed a marshy area,I spotted something white sitting off in the distance.So I stopped and walked back.I could hear this trumpeting sound echoing across the valley......What a nice sound in this lonely place.I had to use full zoom just to get this shot,as they were a long way off.I think they were Trumpeter Swans.

Sorry a little duplication here........

Below is a normal shot of the area and they are in this picture,in the far pond to the right.

Here's where I pulled off and walked back...I wanted to show a bit of the Alaska Highway when its a good piece of road.You can see the fog lifting.

And further along some more Bison,grazing along the road way.They prefer the vegetation along the road and it does cause a hazard for them with traffic.The govt. does try to encourage them away with salt licks etc set back from the road,among other things.

And now my first look at some Stone Sheep,but a bad place to stop and when I did get out for a photo,they started to take off up the hill.

As I approached the Muncho lake Park area,I was getting low on gas,as the last 3 gas station that I had come to that were listed on my map.....were closed.
My fuel warning light had come on a few miles back.Then as I approached the village,I finally see the "Northern Rockies Lodge"and a bit of a line-up at the pumps.
A warning folks,if your travelling this way........$1.59 per liter.....good gawd!I only paid $1.19 away up in Inuvik,in the arctic.....what a rip off......I did my little dance of frustration to the amusement of the other patrons and paid my $ fill my 100 liter tank.
This is Muncho lake,a very pretty area.
And below is the next frustration,a 20 minute wait,while they try to widen the highway along the lake shore.It was a nice location for the wait and it also gave me the opportunity to find out that my right hand trailer light was not working,thanks to a nice fellow from Anchorage Alaska, parked behind me.I met him earlier when we were gassing up and trading comedy routines about the gas price.

Further along after a rest area break,where I worked on fixing my tail light,I started to see many,many,young Elk....They were everywhere on the road for many miles,and you had to be careful because they would run in front of you....Geeze one even stopped to take a pee in front of me.....How many of you can say that you were held up in traffic whilst an Elk takes a pee!

And finally I get to see a moose further along,standing in the watery weeds beside the road.

I must say that I've seen 100 times more wildlife this day,than all the other days put together.So it was a great day.....Just don't mention gas prices.
The mid afternoon found me up in Summit Lake Pass,in a delightful little place called Stone Mountain Provincial Park Campground.It only had a few people maybe because its up high and cooler.Its at an altitude of (1276 meters)(4186ft).This is where I am now as I write this and the campground never did even get to half full.

Here's another view below.Looks a little dark.(even my Picasa 3 program couldn't help this one)actually that's not true,I'm just lazy,too much of the "feeling lucky button" and not the other options.I found this program last winter when I started blogging and have found it to help when organizing the blog.

And a final shot of I think...Stone mountain?.......You be the judge.

Well today,I'll be back on the road in a couple of hours,hoping to make it to the Fort St. John/Dawson Creek B.C. area.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Random Photo View Of Dawson City Yukon,With A few Thoughts Thrown In.

Today's blog entry goes back to Saturday/Sunday past.I wish to carry on with my little saga of what you have to deal with after 800+miles of dusty road.
I arrived in Dawson City mid morning Saturday after hosing down the truck and trailer, so at least they will maybe let me into town.I found the Dawson R.V. park just outside of town.There are 2 parks side by side,actually a 3rd, but it seemed to be closed.It was open earlier this year because it was the one I had picked to stay at.This is the one with the gas station.
After checking in and setting up ,I started my big cleaning task,beginning with the inside of the truck box area,having to remove everything and clean off a 1/2" layer of dust.And while doing that I had the jet from the fridge soaking in some alcohol,hoping that cleaning it would solve my fridge problem,then, when I reached my little compressor and had it dusted off,could use it to blow out the orifice.(that did it)the fridge is back in business.......but, with the luck of the 7 snotty orphans,I now can't get the hot water tank to stay lite.Oh Joy!To hell with it,I'll do without.(this problem solved itself a few days later when I tried it again here in Whitehorse.)

The cleanup took all afternoon and now I was just as dirty as the truck was and I still had the inside of the trailer to deal with,not quite as bad because I was on top of it daily while travelling.
By late afternoon the hot sun was getting to me,so time to quit and take a shower.The shower building was just across the road from me,that was handy.I get there in my half nude condition and find its coin operated and me with no change.Now I have to put my cloths back on and trundle off to the busy store/gas station for change....sheeesh!What a day.

Well,I had allotted 2 days to stay in the Dawson area and one was shot cleaning,so I figured tomorrow,Sunday I would get an early start and see the town.But I got sidetracked in the morning because I found more dusty areas in the trailer that I had missed.On top of this it turned out to be a cloudy cold showery day.

I finally got into town by late morning,parking in front of Maximilians Emporium,that was costly as I found a whole bunch of goody's that I must have.(Ernie,I got your book).

After the spending spree,I walked the town just taking in the atmosphere of this place.I found it to be like a tourist trap in a way,but I wasn't interested in the tourist stuff,just to take in the fact that I was standing in a big piece of frontier gold rush history.This was a place I've always wanted to visit since a child when I used to sit around the radio listening to the "Adventure's of Sgt.Preston of the Yukon".

They have done a nice job of restoring this town,and I like the idea that every building old and new has that same architectural look of the gold rush days.
Even the R.C.M.P. building,seen below.

Below is the free ferry that takes you across the Yukon River,connection people to the "top of the world highway"over to Chicken and then Tok Alaska.I thought about taking this route but decided on the Dempster instead.Still glad I did.

Below is a look at the past in an un-restored view.You can see by the angle of the buildings,that building on perma-frost is a difficult thing.

Had to get Diamond Tooth Girties place in also.

I was surprised at how many business streets this town has,and how all the business's are hidden in these old style buildings.You could never tell if you were looking at a restored museum piece or an actual business establishment.

This is the actual town radio station.

And below,you can see new buildings under construction and they will have that same old time styling......I like it.......I guess that's why the modern looking gas station along with a newer subdivision is out of town a couple of K's where I'm staying.

Well,that's my 2 hour tour,some people say Dawson has nothing,and move on.....but really it has a lot..........A lot of history.

UPDATE.....leaving Whitehorse this morning for Watson lake as I slowly head toward home.I got the oil changed on the Tundra and picked up another windshield chip on the way out of town on a beautiful paved highway.......Its not to be,I guess.
I must thank some of my readers for their nice comments,I know for some, this style of blog is uninteresting.I don't want to get too travelogue'y,so I try to add a personal feeling to it.
And lastly to some of you back in Tapa-yapa who know me........have you been waiting for this..................YES...... I TOOK THE TUNDRA........TO THE TUNDRA!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Inuvik To Dawson.....A Wrap Up With Random Photo's.

Friday August 7th,Its time to get out of town and start that dusty 400+mile trip back.I've been having fridge problems for several days,so didn't want to waste too much time away from electricity as it seems to only work on that.The gas flame is there,but isn't doing the job.I keep trying different things,but am afraid to be experimenting at this point,so I keep it on electric until I hit the road then hope for the best.
The early morning run back to the first ferry was fog bound,really thick in some places,with the temperature just above the freezing mark.I had good timing for both ferries as they were loading just as I arrived.

It only took a few hours on the road to realize that the freezing compartment in the fridge was thawing out again.I hate losing all that food,but this is the second partial thaw and it may be time to throw it out.

I made good time as the fog was now behind me as I climbed back up onto the high plain.
The smoke was gone on this return trip,so It gave me a better look into the distance vista's.
The photo below was taken on the way north and it was my first sighting of the caribou.They were so far away that I had to look through the binoc's just to see what they were,and even at that distance,my stopping spooked them and they started to move up the hill.
Notice that nothing sits straight in the permafrost country.

I arrived back at the Arctic Circle rest area by lunch time,and pulled in figuring on having my lunch break.But just as I started in, a camper from P.Q. came in northbound and parked in the middle of the parking area,not giving me a place to park.So I moved on to the Eagle plain,my 2nd night stop coming north.
Don't you just love these people that come into these open ended rest areas and park in the middle instead of moving to the end and allowing others to come in behind them.
I had lunch and a short nap to revitalize for the afternoon's run that would put me only a short distance from the Klondike highway by nightfall.

Below is an example of things that are different in this part of the world.These are the fuel storage tanks at Eagle Plain.Again its a perma frost thing.
I made it to the Engineer's Govt. campsite,in the late afternoon,now in a light rain.This put me only a couple of hours to the end of the Dempster,for the next mornings run.
This campground and adjacent mountain was named after some of the Army engineers from the base at Chilliwack,B.C.who built 2 of the bridges in this area as a training exercise during the building of this highway.
Another early start,Saturday morning,more fog,really thick until the last 50 miles.I've never seen so many rabbits in my life that morning,jumping out in front of me.It seemed to be about one per minute for most of the 2 hour run.Same thing with birds the whole trip....They would fly out of the bushes right into my path, constantly.Several time's I had to slam on the brakes to avoid them.
Below is a shot of the big caribou herd near the Yukon/NWT border,on my trip up.
Well,mid morning Saturday and back on the pavement of the Klondike highway.Into the car wash at the junction and the big hose down.Then off to Dawson City,a half hour away.
So I asked myself......Now that its over........Would I take that trip again?....No.
Am I glad that I took it?.............YOOOOU BETCHA!
That, for anyone who really enjoys beautiful scenery,is a must,I will never regret taking that trip,even with all the dust related problems that road created.
And I must say....dust aside....That was for the most part one of the smoothest gravel/dirt roads that I've driven on...You could easily hold an 80/100 kmh average through most of it if you wanted to,but there's too much to see.The maintenance crews on both sides of the territorial border were constantly upgrading.I counted at least 6 big permanent maintenance camps along the whole route.These people need a big thumbs up for a job well done.
This will definitely be the biggest highlight of my trip.

Update....I'm now in Whitehorse again after a 1 day run from Dawson.The truck is long overdue for its 1st service check and I have an appointment at the Toyota dealer here for first thing this morning.Then to an auto glass place to get my first windshield ding repaired.....No I didn't get it on the Dempster......I got it in a 200yd construction area of the Klondike highway,yesterday.The speed limit was 50ks....I was doing 40ks because I saw a clown in a pickup coming the other way and he wasn't slowing down.......MAN!.......It was like a bullet.