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Week 32: Ending 6/22/2003
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 5:32 pm    Post subject: Week 32: Ending 6/22/2003 Reply with quote

Week 32: Ending June 22, 2003

Vancouver is only about miles from Seattle, even less from Everett, WA. However, we do not have good maps for crossing the border into British Columbia. Joan misses the shortcut and we end up driving through half of Vancouver and hitting every traffic light imaginable, it seems. We arrive at the Burnaby Cariboo RV Park after 3pm.

Not wishing to repeat the drive into Vancouver so quickly again, we stay close to the campground and check out the local mall for a quick grocery shop.

Although we had originally planned to visit Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria, round-trip ferry-fare for the Tahoe and the two of us is over $100. We opt instead to drive through Gastown, window-shop in Yaletown and imbibe on coffee and tea at a local Starbucks, rather than high tea at the Empress Hotel. Robson Street is the self-proclaimed Rodeo Drive of the North. It is nice, but does not seem as indulgent as the original in Beverly Hills. It is kind of refreshing to people-watch in a major cosmopolitan city.

We enjoy Brazilian Churrasco just a block away at a restaurant called Samba. Excellent food and friendly service. We could dine here every night. We end the night with a visit to Metrotown/Metropolis, a multilevel mall with over 500 stores. No, we are not shopoholics, we need some good maps of BC and the Yukon Territory! (Our road bible, the Rand McNally atlas, is lacking in those territories.)

Although the weatherman forecast rain for the remainder of the week, today, at least, is sunny, warm and windy. We bid farewell to Vancouver and rejoin Highway 1 East. Less than an hour’s drive from the campground, the road becomes very twisty, with rocky mountains looming above us and craggy cliffs below. It is awe-inspiring to view the landscape, with the mighty Fraser River rushing along side of us, but trying on the driver. Equally impressive are trials and tribulations that the railroad workers and the highway workers must have endured to build those structures. No wonder that one passage is named Hell’s Gate!

We pull into Brookside Campground in the small town of Cache Creek, BC. Not long after we pull in, two RVs with Florida licenses pull in alongside of us. They were on their way home from visiting Alaska and were very helpful with touring suggestions. One of the couples, Lou and Alice, were originally from Northbridge, MA. Lou advises us to remember that driving to Alaska is not a trip, but an adventure! The bumps and twists and gravel are all part of the adventure, along with the wildlife and the scenery. New Englanders are a friendly bunch. Then again, most everyone we have met have been friendly and very helpful.

We must mention Hungry Herbie’s, home of the Monsterburger, “a tourist attraction since 1957”, as their billboards state. Well, it convinced us to visit. The burgers are good, though a bit pricey, and the homestyle fries are delicious.

In Cache Creek, we turn onto BC Route 97 North, 527 miles from Dawson Creek and Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway. It is a gorgeous day, not as windy as yesterday, nor is the road quite as twisty. The landscape is filled with rolling hills of farmland and pine trees.

As we approach the town of Quesnel, BC, trying to decide where to stay, we see a Wal-Mart straight ahead of us. Our mind is made up: Wal-Mart it is! Soon, a Discovery towing a pickup truck pulls in behind us. Their owners are from Washington State and they are on their way to Alaska to fish on the Kenai Peninsula.

We unhook our dinghy to check out the town and grab some local fare. Quesnel has several pulp and plywood mills as their main employers. We find the Country Haven Restaurant right on BC 97, as advertised in the Milepost. It is simple family dining with quick and friendly service. We leave with a smile.

Ron checks the air pressure in the motorhome and the dinghy tires. He fills them up and away we go: 324 miles to Dawson Creek.

About an hour and a half later (59 miles north of Prince George), Ron hits the brakes and yells MOOSE! We spot our first MOOSE! In fact, our first TWO MOOSE: a momma and her calf! Luckily Ron had started to brake hard even though they are on the side of the road, because all of a sudden they start towards the road. Ron continues to brake and now the moose are on the shoulder of the road. He honks the air horns to keep them back, but they insist on crossing… and finally, stupidly in the middle of the road, they get scared and start to run. Momma Moose goes straight across and Baby Moose goes diagonally. They hook up in the woods on the other side of the road. We know this because we had come to a safe stop only about 50 feet from them.

Five miles down the road, we notice a black cubic mass on the left-hand side of the road. As we drive closer, we see that it is a black bear crouched on all fours, munching away on something.

Forty-six miles further north, we espy a momma bear and her cub ambling into the woods on the right side of BC 97. Ten miles later, another black bear peaks his head up from his grazing to watch us drive by. We are truly in the wilderness!

We pull our vehicles out of the mud and park in a full hookup. The sun is shining and it is a great day for doing touristy things. We drive past Milepost 0 of the Alaska Highway and park nearby. First order of the day is food. The Dawson Creek Diner and Deli serves breakfast all day, along with friendly, smiling service. Nourished and informed about the town, we walk back towards Mile 0 for photos and on towards the Visitors Center for more photos.

Click here for photos of Dawson Creek

Today is June 21, Summer Solstice, and Aboriginal Day, a day of celebration for First Nation people (Native Americans). Festivities are being held at the Walter Wright Pioneer Village, just 1.5 miles away from town. The Pioneer Village is constructed of homes and buildings from Dawson Creek and other towns, mostly log cabins from the early 1900s. Settlers did not have an easy life back then. Strangely mixed in with artifacts from the ‘20s and ‘30s are memorabilia from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Fragrant flower beds are planted throughout. Near the entrance of the Village, girls and young women dressed in ceremonial garb perform traditional dances. Neat afternoon.

Back to the campground where we meet Earl and Carol, also traveling on their own to Alaska. They lend us a very informative video, appropriately titled “RVing to Alaska.” Everyone says the roads are terrible, but the wildlife and scenery more than make up for it. We will soon find out for ourselves.

We wouldn’t be true tourists if we did not dine at the Alaska Café, “55 paces from Mile Zero.” We both enjoy Steak and Dungeness crab with a strolling violinist playing Irish jigs and tunes from Fiddler on the Roof.

We had no luck finding a place in Dawson Creek to change the oil in the motorhome for us, so we leave for Fort St. John, 50 miles away. Rapid Lube and Wash advertises they can handle any size rig and they do.

On the road again. No wildlife spotted yet today. We hit or first construction on the Alaska Highway, an area where they look to be widening the road. Our first rest stop for the day is at a pretty wooded site with full restrooms, picnic tables and park benches complemented by wildflowers. Our last turnout, as they are called, is simply a wide gravel patch off the side of the highway outside of Pink Mountain, BC. Two rigs are already parked for the night and a fourth soon joins us.

It is 10:40 pm when we finally retire. Although the sun has set, it is still light outside. Perpetual daylight is not far away!
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2003 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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