Day 80

Day 80, 8/18/15, Tuesday

Weather: Clear all day with temperatures at 9 am at 45° and during the day in the 70s.

The day began with Tim and Stacy taking a Zip Line tour at 10:30 am.   The tour began in town and then they drove to the zip line sight not far out of Seward. Logan stayed with us.

Paul went to the Ranger station in town to use their wifi to upload four days of information on the blog and check the email. At the same time, Gail went to the Chugach National Forest Headquarters at the other end of town to have Logan’s National Park Passport stamped. This passport can be stamped at national lands locations and is a memento of his visits. This stamp was associated with the Portage Glacier trail we did a few days ago.

Paul spent time later in the day lubricating the mechanisms on the slide-out. Although this was one of the items that were brought in for repair last week, it needs to be frequently treated with silicone for ease of operation. When we return home, the dealer will do a final repair. Paul also checked to see if there was any evidence of a water leak within the RV.  Thankfully, nothing was found.

The night that we arrived in Seward a leak was detected coming from the hot water line. Tim was able to reach the coupling and tightened it sufficiently to stop the leak. Considering the frequency of rough roads that we encounter it is a wonder that we have not faced other such problems. Much of the road repairs require vehicles to be driven over rough unpaved portions of the road for miles at a time.

When Stacy and Tim arrived back from the tour, she and Paul went into town to obtain a fishing license. They spent the later part of the afternoon fishing from the shore during incoming and high tide. Although the salmon were jumping in the water, they were not biting. By 6:30 pm the tide was beginning to ebb. One of the differences in the tidal changes here as compared to back home is the speed with which tides come in and recede. This is probably more noticeable because of the overall height of the tide. At some times, the tide change can be as much as fifteen feet.

Tim and Gail took Logan to the playground. Pushing Logan on the swings tired them both out, and assured that Logan slept well that night.

We spent time sitting outside the RV relaxing in the remaining warmth of the sun enjoying crackers and cheese. As the shade of the mountains began to replace the sun the temperature droped quickly and we moved inside for dinner.

After dinner Tim and Stacy began their packing in preparation of the return trip tomorrow to Anchorage and their flight home. Of course the evening ended with our last game of Uno.

G & P

Logan Climbing On The Rocks At The Campground
Logan Climbing On The Rocks At The Campground
Logan With Harbor And Mountains In The Background
Logan With Harbor And Mountains In The Background
Tim And Logan
Tim And Logan

 

Day 81

Day 81, 8/20/15, Wednesday

Wednesday: Sunny all day with temperatures in the high 70s.

We left the camping area along the harbor in Seward. We proceeded, at Tim and Stacy’s recommendation, to the Resurrection Road House Restaurant along the bank of the Resurrection River for a departure breakfast. The house specialty is Eggs Benedict and it gets a “thumbs up”.

Our travel took us out of Seward towards Anchorage. About an hour later we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Each of the families that came to visit made this stop. The enjoyment with this location is the ability to see animals particular to Alaska. Although Stacy and Tim enjoyed the visit very much, the one that had the most fun was Logan. This gave him the opportunity to see the wild animals up close. At one point, one of the Moose sneezed and Logan said “God bless you”. Fortunately both the brown and black bears were visible as well as caribou, wood bison, musk ox and the smelly porcupine with orange teeth. The wood bison bulls were particularly frisky, ramming the fence near Gail several times! It’s a strong fence. The lynx were also active as well as the eagle and 2 kinds of owls.

Soon we were back on the road. By the time the Seward Highway reached the shore of the harbor, the mountain winds became very strong. This made the driving very challenging since the RV is susceptible to this turbulence. Due to this weather condition, and constant cut backs, it caused our speed to drop below the posted speed of 65 mph. By law, if five cars back up behind your vehicle, you must pull over to let those vehicles pass. We had to do a number of these before we reached straight road and left the shore.

Our plan was to go to a campground, get dinner, and then drive to the airport. Since we lost time with the driving conditions Stacy and Tim suggested we go to a restaurant recommended by one of their work companions who is from Anchorage. We found the recommended Moose Tooth Pub restaurant and had selections from their gourmet menu. Tim and Stacy spotted a waiter with an O.A.R. t-shirt on, came to find out that this band played in Anchorage a few years ago.

From the restaurant, we went directly to the airport. However, we went to the cell phone parking lot first to give Tim and Stacy time to do last minute packing of the baggage. Gail and Paul walked Logan over to a water “runway” to watch the float planes. We counted over a hundred float planes moored at this part of the airport.

Eventually, we were back in the RV and drove to the departure terminal. Again, it is hard to say good bye after spending a week with them. We waited about fifteen minutes after they entered the terminal before we finally drove away.

We had an excellent week.

G & P

Logan Talking To A Moose
Logan Talking To A Moose
Bison
Bison
Logan And Tim With An Elk
Logan And Tim With An Elk
Logan Checking A Bear
Logan Checking A Bear
Tim, Logan, And Stacy
Tim, Logan, And Stacy
Time For A Rest
Time For A Rest

 

 

 

 

Day 82

Day 82, 8/20/15, Thursday

Weather: Sunny with the temperatures in the low 70s

We sat for a while this morning reviewing our plans for the next few weeks. We had originally planned to now take the state ferry out to Dutch Harbor on the Aleutians. Unfortunately, the sea conditions recently have made for rough seas. This would not result in a pleasant tip so we decided to cancel this part of the plan. We may also cancel the option of taking the 9 hour ferry out to Kodiak Island also for the sea conditions.

Well by noon, we left Anchorage and headed back along the Seward Highway. This time it was not to return to Seward but to go to the Princess Lodge and RV Park in Cooper Landing (N 60° 29’ 24” W 149° 50’ 59”, elevation 530 ft. ). The Princess Cruise Line owns 4 hotels in Alaska that provide for their passengers that opt for the extended land tour after their cruise. We have been to two of these rustic looking but really nice places! This Lodge has a campground attached and is on the Kenai River on the northern side of the Kenai Peninsula.

Our arrival at the Campground was approximately 3 pm. Once we were hooked up we relaxed and spent time catching up on national news watching TV. In many of our camping stops there are either no available stations because of the location or limited stations picked up on the motorhome’s TV antenna. This campground provides cable capability.

No UNO tonight. Miss you Tim and Stacy!

Note: About three weeks ago the first sign of fall color began to show itself. Now the approach of fall is more evident with the cold snap in the air. We are also aware that campgrounds in Alaska traditionally close by mid-September.

We have been told that once the fireweed goes to seed it’s three weeks to the first snow. This was the case when we were at Denali with Beth and Billy 2-3 weeks ago. Another Alaskan told us that six weeks from when the fireweed blooms to the top (before it goes to seed) is the start of winter. Either way, it’s time to get out the long johns!

G & P

YUM!
YUM!

Day 83

Day 83, 8/21/15, Friday

Weather: Scattered rain with the temperatures in the 60s.

Today turned out to be a combination of doing necessary chores and some relaxation. This morning Gail took care of the accumulated week’s laundry. The laundry area was packed! Several of the cruise passengers from the lodge were there before their cruise started tomorrow. After the shuttle picked them up, the area was quiet for a bit until several locals, who live off the grid, came in for laundry and a shower.

Both of us spent time reorganizing the storage cabinets that had been rearranged to provide room for the family that had been visiting. This took the rest of the morning.

In late afternoon, we took the path that connected the RV Park to the Princess Lodge area. This is one of the four lodge communities of the Princess Cruise Line that is part of the sea/land cruise package they run in Alaska.

We had decided to have dinner at the lodge this evening however we first returned to the motorhome since the restaurant did not open until 5:30 pm. The plan to dine at the Lodge was very worthwhile. The meal was excellent, the wine was well selected and the leisurely time that we took was a good way to spend the evening. Gail had a white zinfandel with strawberry-rhubarb. It was the only wine from an Alaskan winery (they get the grapes from Oregon). Gail enjoyed it. The waitress was a young girl from Kentucky who had been here two weeks. She had come to visit her boyfriend and got a job herself. She feels isolated, an hour from a town. She is looking forward to the job ending in another two weeks.

Late night concluded the day for us.

G & P

Day 84

Day 84, 8/22/15, Saturday

Weather: Sunny with the temperatures in the 60s

Today dawned bright and dry. This is one of the few campgrounds that permits the washing of the RVs on site. Paul hooked up the vehicle washing brush to the hose and gave the RV a well needed exterior cleaning. This was the fourth time on the trip to do such an extensive cleaning.

We discovered from the clerk in the campground office that there was a planned soup/dessert dinner scheduled in the community center this evening. We were invited to attend. This sounded like a great idea and a way to meet some of the local people.

At 5:30 pm we drove the mile to the community center. The dinner is used to raise money to defray the cost of a bus to Soldotna, an hour away, to take seniors, shopping, to the doctor, etc. The soups and desserts are made by the community members and turns out to be a time for the people to bring their best recipes. This turned out to be a great decision on our part. The food was great and consisted of approximately a dozen different soups to choose from. The center was filled with the community and appeared to be an anticipated social gathering.

We met two very interesting people in particular. Kristy McConville saw Paul wearing his new Galway sweatshirt given to him by Meghan. This started a long conversation about the family heritage of both families. Ms. McConville resides in Cooper Landing and has a seasonal business ”Alaskan Handcrafts and Antiques”. She closed her shop today for the season. We’re sensing a trend here! She also has a farm in Wyoming where she keeps horses.

We also had the pleasure of meeting Betty and Dean Bivins. They are full time residents of Anchorage and have a vacation cabin here in Cooper Landing. Our conversations became so interesting that they invited us to their cabin for coffee. Since we were driving the RV, they followed us back to the campground to drop off the RV and then drove us to their home. A great couple of hours were spent talking. Dean, born in Anchorage, is a retired Alaska State Trooper and is a wood carver with great talent.   He showed us some of the beautiful carvings of fish and cottonwood bark carvings of Alaskan native faces, which won “best in show”. Betty takes the carvings and does the fine and delicate finishing painting of the fish and birds. He had great tales to tell us of the 1964 earthquake.

He and Betty have been married 52 years. She is originally from Montana. Betty is a machine quilter and also does applique. She belongs to 3 or 4 quilt groups and enters local quilt shows. Gail was invited to the annual show but it’s in mid-September.

She and Dean drove us back to the campground. We plan on keeping in touch with them through email.

We heard at the supper that the aurora had been visible for a couple of nights. It was a clear night and sure enough, there it was! The color was green and the visibility came and went for an hour

We had a great day today.

G & P

First Sighting Of The Aurora From Cooper Landing On The Kenai
First Sighting Of The Aurora From Cooper Landing On The Kenai
Aurora From Our Camper In Cooper Landing
Aurora From Our Camper In Cooper Landing

Day 85

Day 85, 8/23/15, Sunday

Weather: Sunny and windy with temperatures in the low 60s.

Although we woke up relatively early, we did not leave the campgrounds until noon. When we reached the main highway we set our ultimate destination for Anchorage.

A stop was made at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Gail had found that the sweater she had purchased during our previous visit was damaged. There was no problem exchanging it for another.

About a half hour further down the road, we turned into the town of Girdwood looking for a sourdough bakery that had been recommended to us last night.

As we continued driving, we noticed that two spider cracks appeared at the lower edge of the front windshield. Unfortunately, the ding that had cracked the windshield a few weeks ago must have also developed unnoticed additional damage. By the time we reached Anchorage one of the cracks expanded to the top edge of the windshield.

When we approached the outskirts of Anchorage we stopped at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.   Anchorage has built an extensive boardwalk system that extended over a large area of Potter Marsh where wildlife and fish can be observed.  Through our binoculars, we were able to see an eagle’s nest, unfortunately empty, in the high branches.

It was dinner hour and rather than waiting to reach the camping area and starting to prepare dinner, we decided to have dinner at one of Paul’s favorites, the Golden Corral Restaurant.

Our plan for tomorrow is to arrange for the service on the RV engine. We will also need to find a new replacement windshield. We had often heard that traveling to Alaska would cost a windshield. Well, this now makes it official for us.

G & P

 

 

Day 86

Day 86, 8/24/15, Monday

Weather: Partly cloudy with the temperatures in the 60s.

The first task this morning was to call the Mercedes Dealer to see what they could do about the cracked windshield. Unfortunately, they were not able to be of direct assistance since they are not capable of servicing the diesel on the sprinter chasse. A recommendation was to call Trailer Craft who is authorized to work on this vehicle.

The call was made to the recommended company who referred us to the appropriate auto glass repair shop. The gentleman at that shop said that he would be glad to replace the windshield however, it is not one that is kept in stock and it would take two and one half weeks for it to be shipped to Alaska. Then, the cost would be $4,500. He recommended that we go ahead and drive the RV home as is and have it replace there at a much lower cost. He was also concerned that a new windshield could very conceivably be damaged on our return trip over the terribly poor Yukon roads. In the meantime, since one of the cracks broke the inside of the windshield he recommended placing clear shipping tape over the crack to prevent minute slivers from possible getting into our eyes. His recommendation was understandable so we will be following this suggestion.

While speaking with the gentleman from Trailer Craft, we set an appointment to have the oil service taken care of tomorrow morning.

In preparation for our trip back home, we went to the AAA office to find out what the extent of the Washington and Montana forest fires would have on our selection of a route out of Canada. We also wanted to get the current camping books from them. The advisor was very helpful and recommended that we follow the same route that we had taken from Montana to Alaska. This route would not come near the fire areas.

It was late afternoon by the time we returned to the campground. Much of the time this evening was finalizing our plans for returning home. We plan on leaving Anchorage and going back to Fairbanks. Since the nights are coming on earlier, we would like to go back north to have the opportunity to see the beginning of the Northern Lights.

G & P

 

Day 87

Day 87, 8/25/15, Tuesday

Weather: Partly cloudy with some very light rain in the afternoon. Temperatures were in the low 60s.

We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the Trailer Craft service center for the oil service on the RV. Since the onboard computer message indicated that we were in need of the oil service in 1000 miles, the manager informed Paul that this service was not at all needed. He provided information that the Sprinter engine has a 15,000 mile period between services. He said that he would be very willing to do the change but it is totally unnecessary and we will be home before the required time comes.

We drove on to visit the Alaska Aviation Museum near the International Airport. Paul had wanted to visit this facility a number of times but we just had not made the time. Today it was “now or never”. The museum was very extensive with antique, commercial, and military aircraft. There were a number of old such aircraft that were being refurbished.  A one hour movie was shown on the invasion of the Aleutian Islands and the joint operations taken by US and Canadian military to fight the Japanese who had established bases on two of the islands. We had seen this explained from a different perspective at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum on this sad period of our history. This was another piece of American history that has not been widely understood.

A final food shopping trip was made to Fred Meyer Super Market. It was from here that we departed this last time from Anchorage and began our trip north to Fairbanks. We want to take a northern route through Fairbanks in order to hopefully see the Northern Lights. Since the days are getting shorter- a little over 14 hours of daylight- the sky has become dark at night thus enabling the viewing of the lights.

We took the Glenn Highway out of Anchorage to the Parks Highway. This will take us back past Denali and on to Fairbanks. At approximately 6 pm, we pulled into the Susitna Landing campgrounds, in Willow, Alaska (N 61° 54’ 41” W 150° 06’ 05”, elevation 132). It is part of the Alaska Forest Service and on the Susitna River. It is very quiet now that the salmon runs are over. There are dead salmon on the banks of the river. This is a sad site but part of the like cycle of the salmon.

G & P

Day 88

Day 88, 8/26/15, Wednesday

Weather: Cloudy with intermittent rain. Temperatures were in the low 60s.

We left the campground in Willow and continued north. Our first plan was to go as far as Denali this evening and stay once again in the Park. We were becoming concerned about what lay ahead in terms of the weather. A storm had hit the northwestern part of Alaska and was progressing southeastward. The weather report for this evening was calling for freezing temperatures in the Denali region. In the Fairbanks area, the call was for high winds along the route of travel with the possibility of mixed participation.

When we reached Denali, at approximately 6 pm. the campgrounds were already full. Our backup plan was to stay in one of the private camping areas outside the Park or continue north to Fairbanks. Since the winds were not that significant at Denali and some minor changes were made in the weather forecast, we decided to go for broke and continue north. This choice turned out to be successful. The wind turbulence was not as severe and the gusts manageable. We reached Fairbanks in time to have dinner at 9:30 pm. There was still some talk about a possible one inch snow fall later this evening but, we are here!

The recommendation of the service mechanic in Anchorage about not needing an oil change before 15,000 miles may not have been correct. On further checking of the manuals we found that they are calling for 10,000 miles. Tomorrow we will have to see if we can find a service area to check this quandary and if needed do the change in Fairbanks. If this is not possible, then we will have to wait until we reach Alberta. Tomorrow morning we will make the final decision.

G & P

Day 89

Day 89, 8/27/15, Thursday

Weather: Heavy rain all night with scattered light rain during the day. The temperature at 11 am. was 48° with the temperatures during the day remaining in the low 50s. The heavy winds from the storm continued through the day with gusts up to 35 to 40 mph. Winter in the Last Frontier is not far away.

We drove to the Visitor Center this morning to find a recommendation for a service center that could take care of the needed oil change. A staff member of the Chamber of Commerce made contact with a service center. Paul called to make sure that the required materials would be available and confirmed the bays could accommodate our 11’ 6” clearance. We have an appointment for 9 am tomorrow.

While we were at the Center, Gail purchased a DVD for Paul titled “Alone in the Wilderness”. This DVD was first seen at this Center when we first arrived in Alaska. Paul so enjoyed this that he later tried to purchase it as we traveled through Alaska. It is so popular here that gift shops could not keep it in stock. Since the Center provided wifi, we also took the opportunity to check our email and add three days of information to the blog.

After getting information at the Visitor Center, we needed to stop again to do additional food shopping to cover us for our trip through Canada. When we discussed our future travel plans we decided that we will leave Fairbanks on Saturday, beginning our return trip home on the Alaska Highway, and drive to Tok. On Sunday, we will cross into the Yukon Territory and follow the highway back through British Columbia. Then on through Alberta and then arrive in the “lower 48”.

G & P

Day 90

Day 90, 8/28/15, Friday

Weather: Partly cloudy with rain in the evening. Temperature at 8 am was 40°, with warming (?) up to the 50s during the day.

At 9 am this morning we had the oil and filter changed at the University Chevron which is part of the NAPA service network. The RV cleared the top of the bay door by a good three inches. The complete points check was done and we were very happy with the professionalism and the quality of the work.

A final stop was made at the Fred Meyer Supermarket for the final items that we will need going through the Yukon and the rest of Canada.

We moved to the Rivers Edge Campground (N 64° 50’ 24” W 147° 50’ 10”, elevation 452 ft.) where we stopped when we first arrived in Fairbanks in June. This campground has a laundry and also will give us time to charge all of the electronics before we begin the move.

We were hoping to be able to catch a last glimpse of the Aurora tonight but the clouds came in during the late afternoon and by late evening the rain began. Gail was up until midnight just in case the skies cleared. The evening weather gave the information that snow was expected in Denali. It is good we made the move from Anchorage when we did or we might have had to contend with this snow. On flat roads this might not be too bad but for these nor’easterners snow in the mountains is preferably avoided.

The plan for tomorrow is to leave Fairbanks and drive to Tok which is the last town before we make the border crossing.

G & P

 

 

Day 91

Day 91, 8/29/15, Saturday

Weather: Cloudy all day. At 10 am the temperature in Fairbanks was 39°. Snow was predicted at the 2000 ft. elevation.

Our plan was to do the accumulated laundry at the campground before we left. However, the washing machines and dryers were not working properly. So we left the campground and drove to a private laundromat where we successfully completed the wash.

When we reached the interstate, we said our final good byes to Fairbanks and headed for Tok. This is the last substantial size town before the border which is one hundred miles further on. While in Tok we had to check out their gift shop and made a purchase a few last items.

The next stop in town was Fast Eddie’s. Unlike what the name might imply, this is the popular (and only) restaurant in town. It is also where we had our breakfast on Fathers’ Day on entering Alaska 3 months ago.

By the time we finished dinner, it was early evening and we decided to drive on closer to the border. We eventually stopped at Lakeview Campground on Yarger Lake, run by the US Forest Service, in Northway, AK. (N 62° 57’53” W 141° 38’ 27” elevation 1717 ft.). Except for one other couple from Minnesota, we were the only ones there. Gail enjoyed sitting around their fire and comparing travel experiences and plans.

Tomorrow we begin the journey home.

G & P

Day 92

Day 92, 8/30/15, Sunday

Weather: The temperature at 7 am was 35°.   The temperatures all day remained between 33 and 37 with snow showers.

We left the campground this morning at 7:30.With the temperature low we turned on the “artic pack” that keeps our holding tanks from freezing. We had about twenty miles before we would reach the border. Fuel is critical on the trip through the Yukon and northern British Columbia because stations are few and far between. We stopped at Border City the last fueling station of relatively inexpensive US fuel in Alaska and topped off the tank. It was here that the snow first began to fall.

As we neared the boarder, we mutually experienced a sadness that we were leaving Alaska.  We had planned so long for this once-in-a-lifetime vacation, enjoyed the breathtaking beauty of the land, and the true friendship of the people that it was now hard to leave it all behind.

We reached the Canadian border post at 9:30 and were greeted by the very business-like border agent. We were quickly cleared and continued along the Alaska Highway. For about ten miles the roads were fine but then came the end of the hard surface and the beginning of gravel and dirt. Welcome to the Yukon! This illustrious stretch continued for the next 30-40 miles. We bounced, we swerved, and we kicked gravel as we made our way through this desolate part of Canada.

The snow was with us through most of today’s journey. All elevations above twelve hundred feet were gifted with the snow. Fortunately, the snow only stuck to the vegetation and trees. This made for very beautiful Norman Rockwell scenes. At one point in the journey the road was temporarily closed to all traffic while the road graders moved soil and gravel back and forth. This resulted in a long line up of thirty or so vehicles waiting to proceed. Most of the delayed vehicles were RVs heading to the lower 48. While following the piolet car, it actually could give one the impression that we were all moving as a long single convoy.

When we were eventually about thirty miles from Whitehorse, the road descended in altitude and the snow now turned to driving rain. All in all, the weather today made or a long and tiring day. When we reached Whitehorse we joined other RVs in the Walmart parking lot. Here we will spend the night and start out early again tomorrow. We are planning to drive about 350 miles tomorrow and then locate a campground for the night.

G & P

 

 

Day 93

Day 93, 8/31/15, Monday

Weather: 37° at 8:30 am. Cloudy with snow during most of the day and changing to heavy rain in late afternoon. The temperatures were in the 30s most of the day but, rising to the low 40s when we descended to lower altitudes.

After leaving the Walmart parking lot we stopped to have additional propane added to the tank. Realizing that we would be driving through areas of the Yukon and British Columbia where there are many miles between any services, we wanted to be sure we did not run out. Propane services our refrigerator, heater, stove, and oven. Paul happened to ask the attendant at the station if August was always rainy in the Yukon. He shared a local belief that late August is always raining because it is the time when the moose, etc. shed the velvet from their antlers. The rains help remove the velvet and wash away the remaining blood so the antlers can cure properly.

Today was spent travelling through more of the Yukon. From the time we left the campgrounds we were travelling in snow. Fortunately, the snow was not sticking to the roads causing any serious concern about driving conditions. Except for a fuel stop, the never ending construction delays and an additional stop to fix lunch the day was devoted to continual driving.

In late afternoon we pulled into the Coal River Lodge and RV Park to spend the night. (N 59° 39’ 29” W 126° 57’ 03”, elevation 1,571). We had stopped at this Lodge on the way up in June to have lunch. It was obvious to us that the camping season here is coming to an end because we were the only campers staying here this evening.

Tomorrow we will continue on toward Fort Nelson, British Columbia.

G & P

 

 

Day 94

Day 94, 9/1/15, Tuesday

Weather: Some light rain today. The temperatures had quite a range from the low 30s in the morning to the low 50s in late afternoon.

Although today was also given to constant driving, it was more interesting than yesterday. As seen with our trip through British Columbia on the way up, we were able to see many wild animals within sight of the road. Included in our sightings today were Wood Bison, some alone and, others in herds. Also seen were Caribou, Stone Sheep, and Moose. It was actually because of these frequent sightings that we lost about fifty miles of possible driving due to the hundreds of pictures taken.

Of course, we can’t blame all of the loss in mileage to the wildlife. We encountered continued construction areas with one in particular that consisted of 20 plus miles of dirt or loose gravel. One of the construction areas was caused by a land slide that resulted in a temporary dirt road constructed around the slide for vehicles to pass. This taking place while heavy earth moving equipment was widely in use.

We stopped at the Toad River Lodge/fuel station that was located in Toad River, BC. Nothing was moving too quickly there including the use of the fuel pump and the tables in the Lodge full of local inhabitants who were sharing their stories about the fishing that they did today. It appeared to be right out of the Jeff Foxworthy’s stories about Rednecks. Eventually, we were back on the road and moving again.

By the time that we reached Fort Nelson, at about 5 pm., we called it quits for the day and parked the RV in a lot adjacent to a gas station. Since we had forgotten to take anything out of the freezer for dinner, we went across the street to Boston Pizza for dinner. Did it resemble pizza in Boston…NOT!

We ended the night with a few games of Farkel, a dice game we picked up in Talkeetna. We miss playing cribbage with Paul and Jen. Unfortunately we’ve forgotten some on the rules, so we make do with the dice game.

Tomorrow, we plan to drive on to Dawson Creek, the beginning (or in our case the END) of the Alaska Highway.  Dawson Creek is on the border of BC and Alberta.

G & P

Caribou Mom And Calf
Caribou Mom And Calf
Female Moose
Female Moose
Herd Of Bison
Herd Of Bison
Stone Sheep Mom And Baby
Stone Sheep Mom And Baby
Who Wants To Mess With Me?
Who Wants To Mess With Me?
Young Moose
Young Moose

Day 95

Day 95, 9/2/15, Wednesday

Weather: Snow for almost the entirety of the day. Temperatures in the low 30s.

After leaving the area where we were camping, we drove to the local Visitors Center to check on travel information. By 9:30 am we were on the road and heading for Dawson Creek.

Today was planned as another full travel day. For the first 45 minutes on the road, we were driving in heavy rain. However, as we began to rise in altitude the rain turned to moderate to heavy snow. This continued for hours and the snow began to accumulate on the off road areas. At times, this did begin to accumulate as light slush on the road. During the hours of snow, the temperature held between the 32° to 34° range.

Besides finding the snow as an aggravation to the drive, there was also the fact that there were truck drivers and some impatient car drivers who had to speed and cause some hazardous situations. Since the road was only two lanes, it resulted in frequent pull-offs to accommodate the drivers who wanted to pass. Some drivers give no thought to adjusting their driving to the weather and road conditions. Frustration showing?

At approximately 3:30 pm., we stopped for fuel in Fort St. John, BC. We went into the office/café to pay the bill and decided to take a brake and have some coffee. We met a very nice couple from Idaho who were also returning home and were surprised by the snow. Extra time was spent visiting before we again hit the road.

We finally arrived in Dawson Creek, BC at 5:30. About forty-five minutes before reaching here the snow had turned to rain when we came out of the mountains and down to the lower altitude. By this time we were tired, damp, and hungry. We were not up to looking for a local campground at that point so; we pulled into the parking area at Walmart and joined the other travelers who were already there.

Our plan for tomorrow is to continue on to Edmonton, Alberta.

G & P

Not The Weather We Expected
Not The Weather We Expected
Passing Scene
Passing Scene
Road Conditions
Road Conditions
Fuel Stop
Fuel Stop

 

Day 96

Day 96, 9/3/15, Thursday

Weather: Partly cloudy most of the day. Temperatures rose from the 30s in Dawson Creek to a high of 50s in Edmonton.

We departed early from Dawson Creek so we would be able to reach our destination of Edmonton, Alberta. There was a light fog and drizzle when we first left. However, this eventually changed to scattered clouds.

Today’s drive was much more pleasant. The road surfaces were in much better condition especially as we drove further south. Most of the travel was on four lane divided highways. With the exception of one fuel stop and lunch, we continued on until we approached Edmonton.

Today we had a specific campground in mind that we were able to locate through our membership in the Resort Parks International and Passport America. At 4:30 we pulled into the Alberta Beach Golf Resort just outside of Edmonton. The remainder of the afternoon and evening will be some needed relaxation.

Tomorrow we will continue on past Calgary and enter the lower forty-eight in Montana. Depending on the weather and time of day, we may stop at Glacier National Park to spend the night.

G & P

Day 97

Day 97, 9/4/15, Friday

Weather: Rain almost the entire day. The temperatures were in the 40s to low 50s.

We were not able to leave the campgrounds in Edmonton early this morning because it took an extra-long time to do the wash. Unfortunately, the machines were not efficient and the dryers needed to be given additional time.

By noon, we were on the road with the intention of passing Calgary and crossing the border into Montana.

We encountered heavy rain for the majority of the drive and this slowed the traffic. Unfortunately, as we were approaching Calgary, three RCMP cars passed the two lanes of highway responding to an unknown problem father ahead of us. For approximately one hour, we were in crawling stop and go traffic. We eventually reached the scene of the accident that had involved a motor cycle. The driver had already been taken away from the accident scene.

Although our hope was to make the border crossing today, we decided at 6 pm. to pull the plug and find a parking area in Calgary. Once again, Walmart was nearby so, we decided to join the RVs that were already making this their overnight resting spot.

Tomorrow, we will make the border crossing and then stop at Glacier National Park to take the bus shuttle on the Going to the Sun Road. We could not do this on our trip up because of pre-season road closure. During the summer Glacier also had wildfires and the road was closed for 2 weeks. Fires are still in the area and some campgrounds are closed. Additionally, only hard sided campers are permitted because of seasonal extreme bear activity. It seems the bear love the blueberries and other berries in the area. Hoping for a beautiful day to see Glacier!

G & P

Day 98

Day 98, 9/5/15, Saturday

Weather: Rain all day. The temperatures were in the high 30s to low 40s.

We took advantage of being at Walmart to use their wifi to send out multiple days of blog updates. Unfortunately, we did not have time to check our email. One of the inconveniences on this trip has been the difficulty to have more frequent access to the internet. At times, when we do have wifi in a campground it is often limited either in area or because the amount of band capability is not sufficient for the number of people trying to use it.

We resumed our drive towards the border at approximately 10 am. About one hour out of the city of Calgary, the highway surface had recently been redone with stone. Our windshield took another hit and so we have another crack to add to the two we already had.

We had an option of two border crossings from which to choose. We crossed at the Rt. 2 crossing on the way up so we chose to do the same today. This would bring us along Glacier National Park and gave us the opportunity to enter the Park at the St. Mary campground entrance. It was our plan to spend a night in the campground and take the shuttle bus through the Park that was not operating when we were here in June. When we entered the Visitor Center, we found out that the shuttle was not running today because the roads at the higher elevations were snow covered. We did check in with the hope that the roads would be clear for use tomorrow.

After dinner Gail was outside walking around the campground loop when there was a large black bear, about 25-30 yards on the road in front of her! The bear had bent a thin tree to the ground and was eating. When the bear was finished, he released the tree and took a look at Gail, glanced away and continued on his foraging in the opposite direction. Gail had her bear bells on as well as bear spray. Another camper followed the bear. Gail called Paul to come see but it was out of sight by then. We checked outside our RV a couple of times before darkness to see if the bear might still be in the area but it was nowhere to be seen.

G & P

Day 99

Day 99, 9/6/15, Sunday

Weather: Mixture of clouds and rain all day. Temperatures were in the 30s.

We checked by phone with the Park Rangers to see if the shuttle was running today.  It was really uncertain what the decision would be because of the rain and cold temperatures at the campground level which was by far not as cold as at the higher mountain levels. And yes, there had been about 7” of snow at the Continental Divide which crosses our route.

At noon we were at the Visitor’s Center and found that the shuttle buses were starting heading westbound but only for a short distance due to the ice and snow at the higher elevations. We boarded the next outgoing shuttle even though it was not going very far. The trip was interesting from the point that the route went through where the July forest fire had burned 1800 acres of parkland. What was also interesting is the fact that forest floor regrowth has already begun. We did learn that the fire was started by some campers who were smoking weed and left their camp without extinguishing their camp fire. The comment was made that on July 21 when the fire started it was quite warm so no fire should have been needed at all. The fire burned for over two weeks and several campground areas and many trails are still not usable.

When we returned from the shuttle ride, we drove to an area where there were a number of hiking trails. Even though we enjoyed a walk on one of these trails, we were completely cognizant of the fact that there was a high amount of bear activity throughout the Park. Paul was quite concerned about running into one or more of them.

Eventually we drove back to our campsite, played some Farkel and had dinner. We had planned to also go out for a walk through the campground but discovered that there was a Ranger presentation in the small amphitheater at the campgrounds. The Ranger was discussing glaciers and how they formed the Park. In the midst of her talk along came a large black bear. The glacial presentation now became a live viewing of the law enforcement Ranger’s arrival and his method of causing the bear to vacate the campgrounds. Of course, this was only a temporary measure since the campground still had lots of berries and each bear eats thousands of berries a day while getting ready to hibernate.

The skies were clearing and we are hoping for better weather tomorrow to ride the “Going to the Sun Road” that transverses the park east to west.

G & P