Back in Canada, Yukon and British Columbia
July 26th until August 4th 2017
On Wednesday July 26th it rains so we decide to leave Tok and continue our travels but not after we fueled up and brought some leaflets from Valdez to Anne and Werner. Now they can study these and (if possible) visit Valdez. After we have taken our passports from the safe (because we leave Alaska) and said goodbye to our German friends, we leave rainy Tok. Regularly there are road works on the Alcan. No wonder, the road is full of potholes and tears and we drive over endless stretches of gravel road. A test for our torsion bars. As our RV will come through this maybe they are not broken. At the border we have to wait for an hour. Not because there are so many difficult questions asked or cars will be searched but just due to the high upcome of vehicles slowly creeping over the border.
Customs look at our license plates, do we have them at the front and the back of our car? Apparently they know that it’s compulsory in the Netherlands. But finally we end up in Canada and because it’s now 4.30 pm (we also lost an hour because of the time difference) we stop at Lake Creek campground where we find a beautiful spot next to the river. 3 Years ago we stayed here too but I notice that only when we arrive there. Then we were with Judy Nadon of the “Milepost” , the guide you should have when driving around in these regions. All facts of the area you can find in there. We’re lucky because after raining and drizzling all day , the sky is clearing up and a little later we sit at our camp fire and enjoy the nature around us. At 10 pm it starts raining again but it is bed time so we don’t mind getting inside. It rains all night so we have to wade through the puddles in the morning but moments after we leave the sun shines.
We drive on a plain surrounded by high mountain ranges often covered with ice and snow and the small pine trees clearly suffer from the permafrost because often they are skewed. It is a beautiful road. Of course we stop at an old bridge over a raging river and make pictures. Then we drive the last miles and arrive in Whitehorse where we have plenty of choices to find a place on the parking lot of Walmart. Friday morning we awake at half past eight, it’s incredible we sleep with all those throbbing generators on the parking lot.
After breakfast we drive to the visitor center. There is Wifi so Dick can publish a new story on our website while I plan a new route for the next few weeks. We go back to Polson, Montana to visit Bob again, then we want to see the Eclips in Idaho and early September we want to visit Mike and Susan, they will be in Ouray, Colorado. So our existing route should really be adjusted. Picking out pictures and publishing as well, Skype with auntie Ank and create a new route take a lot of time so we don’t leave the visitor center before 4 pm. Of course we deliver our empty bottles. I do not understand that we keep the empty stuff, it brings hardly any money and gives a lot of fuss. But we are Dutch, paid for those bottles and want to get the refund. Of course we also do some laundry and shopping before we drive back to Walmart where again we find a place for the night.
In this city at crossroads, you are always with at least 35 other RV’s on the parking lot. Saturday morning July 29th we leave Whitehorse and after some pictures at Emerald lake, we stop at Carcross desert. It’s always nice to walk around and you wonder why, amidst a wild mountain landscape, is a desert. On our way a passing car raised a stone with tremendous force against our windshield and left a hole behind.
To prevent this hole breaks further Dick works on it with his repairkit in Carcross while I walk around this small town. After the hole is padded and the camper is turned to the sun so it will dry the injected substance, we walk to buildings of the first nations, known by the paintings of raven and other mythical birds and drink delicious coffee. It is great outside even though the temperature is not more than 59 degrees. At 11 am we leave carcross and drive to the Alaska Highway; at 5 pm we arrive in Watson Lake. We leave our camper at the campsite next to the Sign Post Forest, walk through this Sign Forest to inspect our sign “the Reiskranen” (Yes it is still there and one of the 78,000 signs posted here) and then walk to the “Northern Light Center” to see the movies. One is about the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights. I cannot get enough on this subject because to see this natural phenomenon, a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska in winter is still on my Bucket list. The second movie is about the CO2 emissions, the effects it has on the climate and the atmosphere and the main question is: “is our goal to sell the earth or to preserve it”, a great movie. Unfortunately, this engaging topic stops after an hour.
Now it’s almost 8 pm and we are hungry. The Chinese restaurant nearby looks alluring and it isn’t a bad choice because the food is delicious and freshly made. The wish-cookies are amazing and come with the following texts: “You will travel far and wide” and “Enjoy your good health everyday”. We never had such applicable texts.
After checking our mail on Sunday morning at the visitor center across from the campground we drive the Cassiar highway, a narrow road but driveable and at some parts clearly covered with new asphalt. We stop in Jade city but the stones are overpriced and I don’t like the colors. The road winds up and down and has a high content of trees. Sometimes there is drizzle so we have little stops and as the road is quiet we decide to drive to Stewart.
At 6.15 pm we are at the only border with the UNITED STATES without customs: we arrived in Hyder, Alaska and stay on campground “Run a Muck”. Although Alaska time is one hour earlier, this small village with 100 inhabitants, only accessible through Stewart, BC, or with a fishing boat, lives on Canadian time. After this long travel day we do not want to go to the bear view platform so we remain in our RV. Monday July 31 it ’s nice weather. However, there is a chilly breeze so we cannot cycle without our hoodies. When I pay the campsite I see a book exchange and soon I’m back with a pile of books. I am glad I find another book from the series “Wagons West”. Of course we chitchat with other people on the campground before taking our bikes.
We have to make a picture at the entrance of town and then we go to Caroline’s shop to find a geocache. This shop is amazing, all kinds of stuff, even Dick loves it to look around. Caroline shows us a “Dulcimer”, a string instrument introduced by emigrants to the USA. Caroline, also music teacher, give me my first lessons on this instrument: “pick um and flick um” is the motto and I am hooked, I actually can play a song on it. This is amazing, I’m in love with this instrument. During our trip we will definitely look or we can buy somewhere a second hand Dulcimer. After spending some time inside and taking a look at the harbor, we cycle to the bear view platform, along the creek. The first salmon are arrived on their spawning grounds and now we wait for the bears to catch and eat this salmon.
The waiting is worthwhile because after half an hour the first black bear pops up, a youngster and he shows more interest in plants and roots than in the salmon. Later a large black bear walks along the shore, several times he tries to jump on the salmon, each time without any result. A lot of water splashes and the salmon? They shoot all over the place to get rid of the bear claws. Without any result this black bear leaves and then, from a distance, we see a grizzly walking in the creek. An imposing beast. You don’t want to come close to this. Unfortunately, this grizzly catch a salmon behind the bushes and moments later he disappears and don’t come back.
We wait at least another half hour, watch the spawning of the salmon in this shallow creek and then, under the disapproving eye of the rangers, after all we are “meals on wheels”, we grab our bikes and ride back to the campground. Around half past five we ride to a bus in one of the side streets of Hyder, where, according to our German friends, Anne, Renate, Werner and Dieter you can eat delicious halibut. It is rush hour and when we order, we are told that it takes a while before we will have our meals. But we sit outside and have a good view from here.
We really must have patience, after two hours waiting, our fresh halibut is served with fries and sauce. We are rewarded with an exceptional meal. After dinner, it is already 8 pm. we won’t like to ride to the bearview platform. We have seen three bears this afternoon and three years ago we also saw some bears so it’s enough. The good weather continues on Thursday, the sun shines in a steel blue sky. Coming from Hyder you have to pass the Canadian Border, but we may continue. Of course we stop at Bear glacier halfway down the road to Meziadin Junction. We saw this glacier 7, 6 and 3 years ago and again it has lost terrain. Several times a black bear crosses the road before we arrive in Terrace. Six years ago we stayed here for 6 weeks because of a broken timing belt that also damaged our engine block.
Then we met a lot of people and with some of them we still have good contacts so of course we like to greet them. It is hot outside and Emil and Marianne are both working in their garden. They look surprised when we drive up their property; we have to stay and so we sit outside, have a drink, talk and eat delicious salmon patties. We are lucky, it is warm, around 80 degrees and it cools down slowly, at 10 o’clock pm it is still around 68 degrees. The next morning we chitchat a lot but around 11 am we leave to visit some others. Now Emil can do his haying, his cows need food in winter.
Again it’s beautiful weather and the morning temperature is already 77 degrees. We check our mail at the visitor center (they still know who we are, from the broken RV) and drive to Freightliner, the shop that ultimately fixed our camper. Ed, one of the mechanics is still there and immediately he knows we have another camper. Unfortunately Ron, the other mechanic, died. Then we drive to Bob and Gerry. It’s wonderful to see them again. We talk about the drives with him, up the mountains to get the logs. Time flies and suddenly it is time to leave and return back to Emil and Marianne. After drinking some Emil put meat from his own cows on the BBQ and it tast good. Because we never saw the whole property of Emil and Marianne, after our great meal we drive to the Skeena River where their 80 acres piece of land is located.
It’s not only a great place for the cows but also the old cedar trees here love it looking at their size. To prevent strangers from entering this property and disturbing the cows, daughter Jane lives here with her family. On their porch we drink coffee and talk to each other. Sadly it’s growing dark (almost half past 10) so we return home. August 3rd we are early and after having breakfast together and talking and talking we leave Terrace. Although we planned two days for our trip to Prince George it’s easily done in one day. It gives us a little more leeway in our itinerary.
We stop in Morristown where the natives may catch salmon with their nets. Unfortunately, the water in the river is so high that the salmon don’t need to jump and soon we continue our trip. After a pretty boring ride, the road is going up and down with a high content of trees, we arrive at Walmart in Prince George. Despite the fact that along the fence of this parking lot are signs “no overnight stay”, already 20 RV’s stay here and obviously do not intend to leave. So we park our RV, an example still followed by others, and end up with about 30 RV’s spending the night. It is a nice place and Friday morning we wake up refreshed. After breakfast and refuel with diesel, we continue our drive over boring roads with a lot of trees only brightened up by fields of pink fireweed. Unfortunately, Mt Robson is partly clouded so not worth to stop and because of another hour time difference we arrive at half past two in Jasper, Alberta.
This part of Canada has no fires but further South roads are still closed because of the fire. One of the reasons we will not visit our friends Earl and Marcia in Kamloops. Monday is Heritage day, a holiday, we did not now and the consequence is that all the campgrounds in Jasper are full. We are lucky there is an overflow campground, a huge field, 12 miles outside of town, where is still place to stay. With all the fires in BC, a chilly breeze and incredible dry nature all over BC is a total fire ban so we drink our coffee inside. The mountains around us are gorgeous. I actually think this overflow campground is much nicer than the other campgrounds in Jasper, hidden in the forests. Only they are closer to town, an advantage because you don’t like to take your bike for 12 miles along a busy highway where cars passing by with 55 miles.