June 7 until June 16, 2017- Entering Canada, Alberta and British Columbia
Wednesday June 7 we get up early because I want to skype with my auntie Ank. Now we still can use our Mifi from Verizon, but as soon as we enter Canada we depend on wifi in Visitor Centers and cannot longer use internet in our RV. After a long chat with Auntie Ank and reading our mail, we leave Glacier National Park and drive 93 to the North. A quiet road lined by pine trees. At 11 am we are at the border in Roosville. After telling customs we don’t have any weapons besides bearspray (is allowed to take with you) and that we will stay in Canada for about 4 weeks, our passports are stamped and we may continue. Soon the high mountains appear in front and next to us. Unfortunately we cannot stop for a huge Moose next to the road, standing in the river, because of the many cars behind us.
But in Sparwood we get out to make a picture of the largest truck in the world (like we did previous years). At Crowsnest Pass we stop at the visitor center to get the National Park Pas of Canada. This year it’s free of costs because of the 150th anniversary of Canada. Slowly we leave the mountains behind and drive over the vast plains with farmlands, endless farmlands, until we arrive in Lethbridge. There we stay at Walmart. Of course I walk around to see if there is something nice while Dick gets Canadian Money. The Canadian dollar is something more than 70 eurocents, which means that this country is now cheaper than the United States. After I’ve bought nice white pants we sit outside for some time in the grass next to our RV. It’s 80 degrees.
When the sun disappears it’s cooling down a little. After having breakfast Thursday morning, we drive to the North East, again over endless flat farmlands. The landscape is monotonous and boring but there is practically no traffic so at 1 pm we arrive at the Royal Tyrell museum in Drumheller, Alberta. Numerous Skeletons of different Dinosaurs are found in this area and we want to see them. As a senior we have free access to this museum but even if we had to pay the entrance fee of $ 14,- we should go inside. There really are many, many, different skeletons and they are impressive.
In particular the Tyrannosaurus Rex is huge. Our half open Windows blow almost out, so we close everything quickly. Because of the enormous gusts Dick move our RV and put it behind another big RV. Now at least we have some shelter. Because my Walmart bag blew away half way the mountain, I climb the hill to get it. Fortunately I manage to get the bag despite the lightning and rain and come down in one piece. Dick says I am crazy to climb a hill in this weather for a bag worth 1 dollar.
When we wake up Friday morning June 9 at half past six, the storm died down and the sun shines a little. There came some mudslides down the slope and we need to get rid of this mud from the blocks our RV was standing on. Unfortunately there are still many clouds and the temperature dropped to 60 degrees so it is definitely more pleasant now to wear long pants and a hoodie. Over narrow roads we continue our trip to Banff, Alberta. We arrive at Mountain Tunnel campground around 11:15 am and are told that the campground is full but this afternoon we can stay at the overflow. Whether it is the big crowds or because part of the campground (188 places) is not accessible due to roadwork we don’t know but, after seeing the overflow parking (on the road next to a line of trees and still $28,-), we decide to leave and drive to Lake Louise.
A good decision because there is plenty of place on the campground. We are given a wonderful spot without trees and walk to Lake Louise Village. Here the severe storm also raged with the result that everywhere the electricity shut down, so many shops are closed. Fortunately, my favorite sportshop is open and I can buy the fluffy sweater of Kühl. After 6 years my old one is completely worn out and it needed to be replaced. Here is one of the shops where you can buy them. We also find crampons, the irons you put under your shoes to allow you walking over ice and snow. After face timing with our friends who have a weekend with our diving club and reading our mail in the Visitor Center, we walk back to the campground. Unfortunately, caused by the many clouds and cool winds it’s too cold to sit outside but inside the RV it is also very pleasant.
Saturday June 10, we get up early again because we want to drive to Lake Moraine. We have been warned that it’s no use to drive up between 10 am and 6 pm because of the many traffic and the lack of parking space. Unfortunately the weather is not good. The clouds stay low and part of the impressive mountain world disappears behind it. But until now we never had the opportunity to drive to this place because the road was always blocked by snow. Now we drive a completely snow free way up and at our destination we take a walk up above the Lake. The water is emerald green. Unfortunately, the high peaks of the mountains that surround the lake are barely visible. I can imagine that it is a painters dream to sit here when the sun shines. The color of the water will be fascinating. Even with clouds it’s a beautiful mountain lake and we enjoy the majestic mountains around us. I hoped there would be snow at this altitude, 6065 feet so we could try our crampons, but unfortunately there is no snow at all so we’ll have to look for a snowfield elsewhere. It’s good that we drove up early because now we can look around and take pictures, without other people.
When we walk back after 1 hour on the mountain trail, we’ll almost fall into the precipice when we avoid the “parade of umbrella’s”, a group of Chinese carry them because it started to snow and what if you get wet? On the way back to the valley the wet snow changes and large dry flakes of snow are coming down. When we arrive in Lake Louise Village it is dry. The bakery here has delicious cappuccino and sausage rolls and (important) Wi-Fi, so that we can face time with Hannah and our friends at a diving weekend in Zeeland. Then it’s time to interfere with the other guests and soon we have an animated conversation with Ralph and Margie from California. Other people also want to be seated so after more than an hour we leave and walk to the Visitor Center. Dick can use the Wifi here to publish the English version of our story on the website and then we drive back to the campground. Sitting outside in rain is not an option so we stay inside with our heating on, it is only 45 degrees. Fortunately around three o’clock the rain stops, so we walk to the village and again, have a cup of cappuccino. Quite tasty and we are out of our RV. The clouds partly disappear and we have great views of the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, it is too cold to sit outside despite some sun rays. Sunday morning we get up early and after dumping our grey- and black water and fill up with clean water we drive the Icefield Parkway. The clouds are high up so fortunately we have visibility on the high mountains around us. We drove this road already several times but still we stop regularly to take pictures. At the Columbia Glacier clouds stay low and it drizzles so we drive directly further on. We pass the glass platform of the Glacier Walk. According to us it’s fake because the platform isn’t near a glacier at all.
It’s raining and raining and raining on our way down to Jasper but when we arrive at the Athabasca falls the rain stops. An incredible amount of water pours down. You have to be patience to take a picture because a coach dropped a bunch of Asians and they do not stop making pictures. It seems everyone has three cameras, not to mention the selfies they make. Late in the morning we arrive at Whistlers campground in Jasper. There is still place but not with electricity. We have a spot in the Woods where, if Sun should be shining, the rays can penetrate but unfortunately, it remains heavily clouded. Weather to do your laundry. So we drive the 3.5 mile to Jasper. The laundromat were we used to go still exists but now it’s partly a shop and much cleaner. Soon all our wash is in the machines. When everything is clean and folded up, we find out that they also had Wi-Fi. To bad because it is difficult to find Wifi in Jasper and everyone has to do without our messages. It’s still cold and we are happy that we have our trousers, sweaters and coat and we don’t like to sit outside on the campground.
Monday June 12 we oversleep so at half past 9 we leave the campground. But the air is blue and the sun is shining. Our goal today is Lake Maligne and on our way we spot our first Black Bear. A huge one taking his time to feed and digging up roots, not looking around. Passing Medicine Lake, we finally see it filled up with water, in contrast to 6 years ago when it was dry. The Indians believed that the Lake disappeared by “big medicine” (magic). After walking at Lake Maligne and admiring the high snowy mountains we drive back.
Along the way we see a Moose with baby, Bighorn Sheep and a limping Black Bear. There is always a traffic jam when wildlife appears along the road and cameras keep clicking but it is awesome to see these animals around. As we drive by we also make a stop at Maligne Canyon. It’s spectacular to see how the large amounts of water find their way through the narrow canyon and we can also search for an earth cache. After walking around we want to have some coffee. In Jasper we take a seat on a terrace. The temperature is 78 degrees and even in the shade it’s pleasant outside. At half past 4 we are back on the campground. Dick get our bikes and cleans them from the dust and I am sitting in the sun to do some writing. The weather is nice and warm. At half past 6 we bike to Jasper to have our dinner at Smitty’s. Returning after a few hours we still can sit outside, it only cooled down a little. Tuesday June 13th the weather is very cloudy but it is dry and because there is practical no wind it doesn’t feel cold. Via Hinton we drive to the North. A road that brings us along mirror-smooth Lakes in which we see the reflection of the surrounding mountains, awesome! After Hinton we take the 40, a scenic highway to Alaska. It is a beautiful and quiet road that brings us through hills with occasionally steep slopes.
At three o’clock we stop at Kakwa River Provincial Recreation Area. There is a beautiful campground with free firewood and only two fishermen. There are a lot of (large) mosquitoes that apparently starved and attacking us immediately, so we start a fire what helps to get rid of these hungry beasts. After having a good meal from the fire the fishermen return to say that they just spotted a Grizzly with her cub so we have to be careful when we are outside. Unfortunately, the Grizzly’s don’t appear at the campground and to walk around to search them, only armed with bear spray, doesn’t seem to be a good idea. Wednesday morning we get up early. We hope to see some wildlife along the road, but very quickly we notice that this will not happen on this road. An endless stream of trucks and large trucks comes towards us and every now and then they disappear in a muddy side- road. All around us are oil- and gas fields. We are so happy to leave this road. Of course in the town of Grande Cache we have to search for a geocache and as we enter BC we can adjust our clocks. Now we have a 9 hours time difference with the Netherlands.
Finally we arrive in Dawson Creek, where of course, we take pictures of the Mile Zero point on the Alaska Highway and also buy the “Milepost” where, as the name indicates, is written what there is to see along the Alcan (Alaska Highway). We will not stop at half past 12 so we continue driving to Fort St. John where we can stay overnight at Walmart. The ice stadium, where the Visitor Center is located, is special to see. Downstairs are two ice hockey fields, on the first floor a speed skating course and on the third floor a jogging circuit. An imposing building. We’re lucky with the weather because it remains dry until 7 o’clock in the evening. Then it starts to rain. Thursday June 15th, the clouds are still low but it is not raining and after getting diesel and propane, we continue to drive the Alaska Highway, celebrating this year its 75th anniversary. What a road and what a performance to make this road in 7 months. To reach White horse in the Yukon we will still have to travel 838 mile, often over steep slopes and certainly along endless rows of trees.
We refuel in Fort Nelson, drink coffee and eat cake in honor of the birthday of Hugo (our friend from the Dutch Diveshop) and stop at 4 pm at Summit Lake, a magnificent lake on 4200 feet altitude. There is a free spot along the Lake but because it’s only 41 degrees, unfortunately we will not sit outside to enjoy the view. Between rain-showers I try to remove some dirt of the RV but if it raining cats and dogs so I also go inside.