ESCAPE TO THE LOWER FORTY-EIGHT or Beat Feet To America Chapter Five September 11 – September 17, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Watching the news, we learn that there are quite a few fires still burning in southern British Columbia. Stepping outside proves it. You can see and smell the smoke. There is a hazy quality to the atmosphere.IMG_4636IMG_4671

We are heading for the border. Our planned crossing is at Sumas, Washington. Other then the smoke, the trip was pleasant and uneventful. When we got close to the border, it got a little crazy. It wasn’t a straight shot on a highway to the crossing station, but local roads with left and right turns. You had to pay attention to the signs. Our border guard asked us the usual questions, where are we coming from, going to, alcohol, tobacco, vegetables. I had to give up my oranges and bell peppers. Apparently, once they leave the country, they can’t come back in. While I was packing them up to throw them in the garbage, the guard and Alex were chatting away. Once we cleared the border, it was onward and upward to Bellingham, Washington to spend a few days. We needed to take a break from driving every day before starting the grueling schedule at REVtown West. Plus, we had to get our Apple devices fixed, restock supplies and get mail. We haven’t sent for our mail in about six weeks, so it was time.

The only game in town is Bellingham RV Park, open all year, with wifi, cable, full hookups and 50 amp service. The park is located at exit 258 off the I-5, as they say on the west coast. This is a nice, clean park with quite a few long term guests. Unlike other parks with long term residents, this park does not have that junkyard look or feel. The place looks great and the residents are all friendly. A word to the wise, if you are an older gentleman, beware. There are several older women trolling for a man.IMG_1349

After we setup, we decided to extend our stay here from two to four nights. Having made the decision, we decided not to start out on our errands, but just relax.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Good news, it’s sunny! Bad news, it’s thirty two degrees.

We have nice roads, such a pleasant and very unusual thing in Canada. That is because we are in a more populated area. It is farm country. We see horses and cattle and the remains of the summer crops in fields. There must be some sort of military exercise going on, because there is one military truck or vehicle after another on the road going in the opposite direction. Our only wildlife today, is a small deer on the side of road where the blacktop ends and the brush begins. She takes off for the woods when she sees us coming.

We can see evidence of the fires that plagued Canada and the western US. There are handmade signs all along the road thanking the firefighters for saving homes, businesses and farms. You can see the scorched earth of the hills, with blacken trees and see the green of the farmers field in front of them. Such a stark contrast.IMG_4616

When we get to Brookside Campsite in Cache Creek, there is a note on the office door that the owners will be back at three. We should pick our own spot, with the exception of the reserved sites listed on the note. There aren’t many sites taken, so we wander through them all and pick one away from the reserved sites. Around three thirty, we walk back up to the office to pay. Curiosity has us ask if this area was part of the fires. The young woman who owns the campground, told us they had a big fire in July. The fire was on one side of the road and it jumped the highway and burned the other side. A bit frightening. She said the hills were mostly sagebrush and if weather was normal, the sagebrush would be back next summer. This year was very dry, with no rain for months, causing the fires.

Friday, September 15, 2017

We had frost again this morning. As the sun came up and warmed the air, fog was everywhere. We were hoping to get the Vanderhoof for the night. Route 37 ends in Kitwanga and we turn left onto 16 also called 2.

There were less mountains more fields and farms on this stretch of road. There are also more towns and more civilization. When we got to Telkwa, we got stuck in road construction for fifteen minutes. Not fun!

We got a surprise when we got to Dave’s RV in Vanderhoof. It didn’t exist anymore. Our only choice was to push forward to Prince George. We can’t dry camp since our water tank ruptured, so driving on to another campground was the only option. After a couple of hundred miles driving, the last thing you wanted was to add another sixty or so miles on to the day, but you have to do, what you have to do.

Before our water tank problem, we had planned on spending the night at the casino in Prince George at the intersection of 16 and 97. Rumor has it, they have a great buffet and RVs can stay in the parking lot. Now that we were waterless, we needed a campground with water. Once we made the right onto 97, we found Sintich MH & RV Park. We were able to get a spot for the night and take a much needed rest.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

We woke to a crystalline world. There was frost on the ground and bushes. Sergio looked like he was encased in tiny jewels. I don’t know what the temperature was. We use our phones to get the weather and since we have no service, we are more clueless than usual.

We are continuing our southbound journey on the Cassiar. There is a whole lot of nothing here. On the Alcan, there are these mini one stop places on the side of the road, offering fuel, lodging, food, groceries, gifts and RV sites. On the Cassiar, miles of nothing. You can go twenty, fifty, a hundred miles without seeing any evidence of humans inhabiting the land. When you do, they remind you to check your fuel. The next fuel is in 153 kilometers or 93 kilometers or the edge of the universe.

Canada has been better for us in terms of wildlife viewing, and this trip through has been no different. Unfortunately, our first siting today was of a dead red fox on side of road. We came to a screeching halt when a momma black bear and her cubs decided it was time to cross the road.

Momma on the shoulder in front of the truck

IMG_4549IMG_4551We came upon another bear, sitting on the side of the road, taking a rest, checking out the scenery. When he saw Claudia coming, he hightailed it into the woods.

We are driving through mountainous terrain. To our right is the Coast Mountain Range. To our left is the Sikine Range. They have avalanche areas here. They name them. Names like Gamma Avalanche and Beaver Pond Avalanche with road closing gates for when they do come crashing down.IMG_4566

This is logging county. Everywhere you look it is evident, trucks hauling giant logs, huge areas with hundreds of felled trees bundled together like Lincoln logs, stacks and stacks of cut lumber. IMG_4570It is a desolate and deserted area, no humans, yet I have never seen so many power lines. The kind you would see in a residential neighborhood and the big, high tension kind. It is so strange.

We arrive in Kitwanga and the Cassias RV Park, our home for the night. There are only a handful of RVs here this time of year. It is a quite and very pretty park, with one strange thing, a whistle blows every so often. The only thing we can think of, is it is from the logging company as a signal to their workers. No park is perfect!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today we start new territory. Everything from Tok to Watson Lake has been familiar to us. We traveled this part of the Alaskan Highway, the Alcan, on the way up. Now we will be turning onto the Cassiar Highway on our way to Washington. I have read about this highway and all I can say it, this should be interesting!

It is a narrow road, and I mean narrow, with no guard rails, and no center lines. Occasionally, you have concrete barriers on the really sharp turns that have vertical drops. Guess they don’t want you littering the landscape with your body or vehicle. You miss one of these turns and they’re not going to be hauling you out. We saw this with what was left of a semi truck at the bottom of one of these drops. This road is a roller coaster. You go up, and then you go down, and then you go up as you are in a crazy left hand turn, and down a steep grade down as you turn right. You can’t take your eyes off the road for a second!

Eventually, the road leveled out for a bit and we even had a beautifully paved, new section were it actually was a pleasure to drive. We still had areas of gravel, but compared to the Alcan, it was a nice ride through snow capped mountains with lakes and rivers and, best of all, sun! IMG_4250We passed through an area where you could clearly see evidence of a forest fire by a lake. Sad to see what this hot summer has done to the landscape.

Even with these roads being so stressful, we made it to Iskut, in British Columbia, our goal for the day. We pulled into Tatogga Lake Resort around three and setup camp. If you’re looking for a cool, rustic place to stay, this is it. Chock full of stuffed critters on the walls and full animals walking the halls! If you like that kind of thing. Since it was early, Alex was able to rest for a while before dinner. I was going to grill chicken outside, but the bugs were too annoying, so it was cooking inside for me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We woke this morning after seven to thirty degrees.

We are traveling further east and south. There is more green to the trees and less yellow than in Alaska. The sun is shining, and even though the temperature starts out cold, it turns nicer than what we encountered in Alaska. Our goal for today is to reach Watson Lake, again, a place we visited on our way up.

Since we didn’t get to Whitehorse yesterday, we need to make a stop so we can change money. We have to take Claudia through the city. Sergio is so filthy you can’t see out the windows and unhitching would be a royal mess. We try to find a spot in the RV parking, but naturally, cars are taking up most of the spots, so Alex drops me in front of CIBC Bank and I go in to do our business while he keeps driving around the block. I am told I can only exchange $500 per day. That’s not enough to get us back to the states, so once I’m finished, I have to go across the street to the Bank of Montreal, where I can exchange another $500. With this bank, I get a lower exchange rate and they charge me $2.50 as a fee. I didn’t have these problems when we came up through Alberta. I am not a lover of Canada! At least western Canada.

The roads are better today. Few gravel patches and less heaves, so we make good time. When we drove up the Alaskan Highway to get to Alaska, we saw a great deal of wildlife. Now, our only siting has been a mule deer that was attempting to cross the road but thought better of it was he heard us coming.

We are stopping at Baby Nugget Campground, where we stayed on the way up. This time we ask for a pull through that has the utility services closer to the center. We don’t want to unhitched Sergio. They have an RV pressure wash that costs $2 Canadian money, that’s one Tooney, for two minutes. We have three Tooneys that buy us six minutes, so off we go to get some of the mud off. Claudia and Sergio aren’t spotless, but at least you can see what color they are and can see out the windows.

When our time runs out, we head to our campsite and setup. It’s nice out so we make burgers outside on the grill. By the time the sun is setting, all the sites by us are filled. This truly being the end of season, they only have the front part of the campground open.

The front of our coach is facing north. A little after ten, just after Alex went to bed, I got up and looked out the front window. The Northern Lights were showing themselves. I woke Alex and we went outside to watch. Maybe during different times of the year, in different places they have spectacular color. The two times I have seen them, they were a pale shade of green to white. I can only describe them as being a misty, shimmering ribbon that shoots fingers up or down along that ribbon and then disappears or morphs into a bulbous mass. These changes happen slowly. It reminds me of the Nexxus from Star Trek, but much slower and more hypnotic. There is a dreamy quality about them.

I say this is my second time seeing the lights, because when we were in Anchor Point, I woke one night around twelve thirty, one o’clock and sat at the front window, which was facing north. I saw the lights over the hilltop, but first thought it was from the sun setting over the mountains to the west. I realized it wasn’t. Then I thought it was from a parking lot or stadium, but if you took all the lights in the town and put them in one place, it wouldn’t equal what I was seeing. When I finally realized it must be the Lights, they vanished. It was only when I described it to Skip, that he told me I did, indeed, see them.

Monday, September 11, 2017

We left Tok with rain. Why should today be any different. For the ninety miles to the border, it rained on and off. IMG_3912When we got to the crossing station, there was a line. They had a Class A pulled over. This was the bitter end of tourist season. I hoped they weren’t bored and looking for something to do and we would be their amusement.

I was on the phone with my daughter-in-law in Florida getting an Irma update, when we were called forward and I had to get off the phone. The hurricane had past and we were getting updates from family and friends. Thankfully, everyone made it through with little damage, except for their nerves. When we got to the crossing guard, we showed him our passports, he asked a few questions and we made it through the border crossing quickly.

Then the fun started!

There was construction everywhere. Most of road was loose gravel construction. There had been pockets of rain turning everything to mud. If we thought the dry loose gravel was bad, this was even worse. The ruts were bigger and deeper and the mud stuck to everything.IMG_4212IMG_3922IMG_3916

There was a pale Yukon sun trying to fight through the clouds. It was turning out to be a nice, somewhat sunny day. Sure, we were leaving Alaska, so the rains stopped. See ya, thanks for coming, have a nice day, now we can have some nice weather being that you’re gone! Don’t forget to write!

We stopped at Destruction Bay, a place we had been to on our way up, for some lunch. This time there was little water in the bay. We saw the effects the summer’s lack of rain had done. The bay was quite empty. You would have a good distance to travel to get to the water. We now understood why so much of Canada and the western US was on fire. And, this was the first time we got to see what all the mud from the construction did to Sergio and Claudia. They were filthy! We also had another surprise. The leak we reported having in our water tank decided to give out. We were leaking water! Looks like we have to put a temporary hold on boondocking.

IMG_4166IMG_4167We were trying to get to Whitehorse, which is about 388 miles from Tok. With the terrible road conditions, and the time change to Pacific Standard Time, we gained an hour, we decided to stop in Haines Junction, about ninety five miles west of Whitehorse. Before we got Haines junction, there was a massive storm to our right over mountains. It was a dramatic site to see.IMG_4134

When we got to Haines Junction, Kluane RV Park was open, so it was our choice for the night. I hadn’t been able to get to a bank to convert US dollars to Canadian money yet, so the campground made out by a few dollars when we had to pay in US currency. Still a bargain by US standards.IMG_4210

We setup, had dinner and watched a movie. Since it was a somewhat clear evening, and the Northern Lights forecast was over a three, I set the alarm for one o’clock so we could check. Sad to say, they weren’t showing themselves.

3 thoughts on “ESCAPE TO THE LOWER FORTY-EIGHT or Beat Feet To America Chapter Five September 11 – September 17, 2017

  1. Well you guys have had some adventure!! So, I think you should write a book!! This has been quite a journey for you and Alex!  Where to next?  Be safe and have fun!  L Patti


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