Monday, June 16, 2014

Oh Canada....

Wow - Canada has been quite the adventure!  We entered British Columbia without much fanfare.  We have a shotgun with us that we had to declare so that required some inspection and paperwork, but that was expected and handled with efficiency and a friendliness we've come to realize is how most Canadians are!

We drove through beautiful mountains and quaint towns and spent the first night in Merritt, BC.  There we met Junior and Brenda from Alberta, Canada.  They gave us great advice about traveling the Alaska Highway, places to stop and things to do along the way.  They were just the first of many friendly campers!  It was great to meet you both!

As I write this, we are pretty much at the end of the Alaska-Canada Highway as most of the route is quite remote and wifi is pretty much unheard of, so some of this may be out of order, because last week seems like 10 years ago we've seen and done so much!  The highway is a 2 lane road and was built in less than a year by the US Army during WWII.  It is quite the feat of engineering and we stopped at the Al-Can Highway welcome center and learned about its history.  It's a really interesting story if you are interested, you can learn more here:

Along the way we stopped to see various historic markers, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks.  Noel AKA Eagle Eye is great at spotting wildlife, including bald eagles in far away trees!  As we continue north the weather is getting cooler, the daylight is now up to 21 hours a day and spring wildflowers are blooming everywhere!

 Bijoux Falls

 A cute country chapel

 Oh, yawn, you know, just another friggin' BALD EAGLE!
How awesome is he???

 Driving into the mountains

 Learning about the Alaska Highway

 I have like a ZILLION pictures and around each corner was more beautiful scenery - no wonder we are only averaging 200 miles a day - between the steep climbs, 10% downhill grades, pee stops and photo stops it takes a while to get anywhere.

Even lilacs are just now blooming here!
The town of Chetwyn has an annual chainsaw carving
competition, and the winning sculptures are displayed all along
the main drag. They were incredible!

 Some murals along the building walls in Dawson Creek - there are murals all over the city.

 The grain elevator gallery

 This old grain elevator has been turned into
an art gallery in Dawson Creek.

 The stellar jay is the official bird of British Columbia.  Aren't they pretty?

 Mountains still have snow on top

 Just another beautiful view.  There are lakes and rivers everywhere!

 Another stellar jay

Wildflowers in bloom
I didn't know Virginia Bluebells bloomed this far north!  Pretty!

 It was funny, the visitors center took our picture, getting our picture
 taken, and put it on their Facebook Page.

Another mural in Dawson Creek

There was a pioneer village next to the campground in Dawson Creek, and get this, it was "By Donation" - and the buildings were all open, with all kinds of things out on display, with no staff or security.  Unheard of in the U.S.! Why they would have been vandalized and stolen in a heartbeat in the states!

 I'm including this pic of a 50 foot burled spruce for my friends Marvin and Rob, the woodworkers!

 The General Store

 Look at me!  I'm back in school!

 I took these in the "sewing room" because it made me think of 
my Sew Dayton friends!
Miss you girls!

 Once we left Dawson Creek, the terrain changed and became a lot more "wilderness".  The two lane Alaska Highway, basically THE only road, winds through the mountains and gas stations and towns become few and far between.  (and diesel is over $6 a gallon!)  And we began to see a LOT more wildlife.  The first time we saw a black bear we were like OMG!  A bear!  photo photo photo photo photo photo....The second time we saw a bear and TRIPLET bear cubs!  Cool!  Pull off the side of the road and snap, snap, snap, snap, snap a couple dozen bears.  By the time we saw our 20th bear it was like, oh look, another bear....keep driving.

We kept seeing wildlife crossing signs - bear crossing, deer crossing, moose crossing, bison crossing, elk crossing, caribou crossing, wolverine crossing....even this:

While in Watson Lake, in the Yukon Province, we were in a thrift store and a man that looked like he was one of the local tribal people, called Noel Sasquatch (jokingly) as he tried to pass Noel in a narrow isle! hahahaha - I think that should be his new nickname!

So we saw lots of stone mountain sheep...


running right down the middle of the road!

We stayed at a nice campground in Williams Lake, and then drove on to Muncho Lake, which was gorgeous!

Double G Campground was super!

 The color of the water was like an aquamarine...
It was so hard to capture, but so amazing!

 That's where we camped!  Right on the water - it was like
living inside a postcard! (along with a zillion mosquitoes!)

 We saw a rainbow after a brief shower

There is about 21 hours of daylight here, but I woke up about 1:00 am and couldn't get back to sleep, so I walked over to the lake and took some pictures of the full moon over the water.  To my left was the full moon....

But to my right, the sun was already coming up....

I'm having to use a sleep mask to get some sleep because its always so light out its hard to keep track of the time.

So we saw more wildlife the next day....

These woodland bison are endangered.


And of course there is beautiful scenery everywhere

 An alluvial fan, a geologic formation left by glaciers and ice

Mostly you just see these pine and spruce trees, dotted
with patches of aspen, as far as you can see!

One of the places Junior and Brenda told us we needed to stop was Liard Hot Springs.  Good Call!  It was great - a natural hot spring spews hot water into a creek and the park system has put in changing rooms and steps and stone benches into the water for people to enjoy.  It's like nature's hot tub!  The water is a little stinky (think rotten eggs) but felt delicious on my sore muscles and aching back.  Ah....a true highlight of the trip!

We stopped at a few of the odd tourist attractions, including the Toad River Lodge with hundreds of hats on the ceiling...

Welcome to the Canadian Province of the Yukon

And in Watson Lake, there is a signpost forest.  I guess tourists stop and put up signs, mostly about where they are from, and now there is over 20,000 signs!  As a former asst. city manager, I couldn't help but notice how many stolen municipal signs and street signs were nailed up!  I can't help it - once a public servant, always a public servant! LOL

Across the street from the sign post forest in Watson Lake was a Northern Lights Theater.  I have always wanted to witness the northern lights, but this time of year here in the great northwest there is too much daylight to see them, so this was the next best thing.  And we didn't have to stand out in the cold to see them!  To my surprise, a picture I took in the theater came out good!

The Yukon wilderness is a bit different than what we were coming through in British Columbia.  The trees are shorter and stubbier and the ground is more like what you hear as "tundra", a spongy, mossy dense ground cover and not much grass. 

We've seen some funny tee shirts and clever signs in Canada - "Alaska Highway Grill:  You kill it, We'll grill it!"  and a road sign that said "All those who hate speeding tickets, Raise your right foot!"

In Watson Lake we stayed at a campground by Nugget City, called Baby Nuggets.  The campgrounds along this whole route have been pretty bare bones, and because everything is hundreds of miles from any kind of civilization, they are mostly operating on generators and having to truck in supplies.  That means things are expensive.  I'm talking $6.00 to do a load of laundry, a quart of milk $3.45, and diesel fuel?  Don't ask.  We've stopped looking.

We will be heading into Alaska by the end of the week.  We are in Whitehorse waiting for Noel's sister and brother in law and their friends to meet up with us.  They left Dayton, Ohio on June 8th.  Till next time, I will leave you with a few more wildlife pics...

So far, the only moose we've seen, but I've got eagle eye with me, so
if they are out there, we'll see one!


Suzanne Gourlie said...

Anna and Noel, hello! OMGosh, these pictures are AMAZING, your blog is so great Miz Anna. Makes me itch to get out on an adventure Noel feeling any better now? All our love to you both - you too, Sasquatch! ~ Suzanne

Anonymous said...

I am so blessed to hear and see these entrees I love you including us on your voyage. I feel like I get to enjoy it with you. I keep praying for your safety. I bet the warm bath was incredible and long lasting. Our God knows what our body needs. Kim Dolinski

beth cole barrineau said...

Double G Campground! AMAZING! I can't even think up new words to describe the awe and amazement I get just reading and seeing these pics Anna. you must feel like you're in heaven. SO many beautiful things to see day after day....ahhhhh
Just fabulous!

Phyllis said...

We are on the Cassiar Highway. What a long drive. We will be at Watson Lake tomorrow.

Gotta love those bears that pop out from every where.

Jeanine Hufford said...

I have finally caught up! Your blog is absolutely fabulous!!! My world is in so much turmoil I long for retirement days on the road. The wild flower and life are so enjoyable to see and think about your proximity while taking the pictures

My goodness how time is zipping past. You are in Alaska! Are you glad you drove vs. the boat? How much of Alaska will you trek? Let us know more about city life in Alaska.

CSCWO will have our last program next Monday. I am so disappointed. We were right on the cusp and the Board said, stop. Job hunting--I am hopeful, but so DONE with the Board.
Our family is good and we have had some fun together. So glad to have adult children and NO TUITION payments the rest of 2014.

Be careful, feel well, and enjoy your journey!! --Jeanine

Jeanine Hufford said...

Thanks for sharing!!!