As we write this we have started our second major journey. We are now camped in a county campground in "The Deepest Valley." We are in an area that has snow capped mountains to the West, and snow capped mountains to the East. The snow is there even though it's May. This area is also known as a sportsman's paradise. Depending on the time of year there is trout fishing, hunting, backpacking, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor sports. All of that is within eighty miles from where we are camped. We are also near a well know bakery that is known for its Sheepherders Bread.
We haven't sent out any "Where are we's?" for about a month. We spent April spoiling our grandkids and taking them places. First, we took Breanna and Ashley to Phoenix to let Breanna visit with her daddy. That was really a fun trip. In Phoenix there is a Pueblo Grande, a place somewhat similar to Casa Grande. Pueblo Grande is also a relic of the Hohokum Indians who disappeared in the 1400s.
After returning to Inyokern with the two girls, we left again with Daniel, our six-year-old grandson. We took Daniel to Anaheim and met Adrienne's second son (Jeff), Jeff's wife (Jill), and their children (Nicolas and C.J.) for a day at Disneyland. Wow, has Disneyland changed. Two new attractions, California Adventure and Downtown Disney have replaced the old parking lot outside the main entrance. California Adventure is a new theme park but we didn't visit it. Downtown Disney is kind of an open-air mall with all sorts of restaurants and shops. By the way, the parking area is now on the North side of Disneyland and most of it is a parking structure. After you park, you take a tram to the main entrance when you can go to Disneyland, the California Adventure, or Downtown Disney.
Seeing Disneyland through the eyes of a 2-year-old boy (Nicolas), a 6 year old boy (Daniel) and a 7-year old girl (C.J.) was really fun. It's easy to forget just how much energy children have. We spent time in Disneyland and also Downtown Disney. Most people know about Disneyland so we won't describe it. However, Downtown Disney is new so maybe a description is in order. In Downtown Disney we visited a Lego Store. Lego's are those little plastic blocks used to build whatever you want. It's really amazing how many different products Lego makes and sells. The store even had a number of things that were made from Legos including a two story tall giraffe, Darth Vader, a dinosaur, and other things. It was a lot of fun and interesting.
Downtown Disney also has a Build a Bear Workshop. That's the place where you pick out what kind of stuffed animal you want. Then you pick out a voice box if you want one (remember Larry has Paw Paw Bear that was made by C.J. that says "The Brauers, Havin' Fun" in C.J.'s voice). Then you pick out a heart, rub the heart, make a wish, and put the heart in the animal. Then you stuff the animal, give it a bath, pick out clothes, name the animal, and finally you pay for your purchase and receive a birth certificate. It's really a neat place.
We also had Beignets, the French donut like we had in New Orleans, and ate dinner at a Rainforest Cafe.
After Disneyland, we spent the next day at the Natural History Museum with everyone, and on Saturday we had lunch with Scott (Adrienne's oldest son) and took Daniel to the California Science Center. The Natural History Museum had a great discovery center and a display on insects and reptiles that Daniel, C.J. and Nicolas really enjoyed. The California Science Center is more like a giant Discovery Center. Every display has a Discovery area for children. The different areas of the museum include the Body, Magnetics, Flight, Engines, Sound, the Brain, Insects, Heat, Light, etc. Really great for all ages!
The last day we were there (April 14), we were scheduled to baby-sit Nicolas and C.J. while Jeff and Jill went to an engagement party. We took the kids to a local park and after we were there for about 5 minutes, Daniel decided to run down a hill. Well, he fell and broke his arm. We ended up spending 3 1/2 hours at a local emergency room (mostly waiting). The ER Doctor took x-rays and, although he wasn't sure, thought that Daniel may have had a buckle fracture. So the ER Doctor put on a splint, gave us copies of the X-rays, and wanted us to take Daniel to his regular doctor as soon as possible.
The next day we drove straight to Daniel's regular doctor. She had the X-rays read by a specialist who confirmed the break. Within a few hours of returning to Ridgecrest, Daniel had a cast on his arm.
The last couple of weeks in Inyokern (for those of you who aren't familiar with the area Inyokern is just outside of Ridgecrest and is where we usually stay when we are in the area) we spent seeing the dentist and getting ready for our trip to Alaska. Finally, on May 1, we left and went to Bakersfield to have a couple of minor things checked on the motorhome, then we started north. Well, sort of north. We've driven up both I-5 and CA-99 before and they are both boring, uninteresting drives. This time we are driving up US 395 on the East Side of the Sierras. We've also driving this route before but it is much more interesting than the highways on the West side of the Sierras.
Where are we? We spent the night in Taboose Creek Campground between Independence and Big Pine California. We knew that two very dear friends from Inyokern were camped for the week at Taboose Creek. So we decided to surprise them. We shared a great dinner and lots of fun.
headin' toward Alaska
We arrived here yesterday (Friday) and will leave tomorrow (Sunday). We are camped in an RV Park in the Silver State. The town is the second largest city in the state and is known as the "Biggest Little City in the World" at least that's what the sign downtown says.
The trip up here yesterday was great, much better than driving up California's Central Valley. Sure, there were a lot more hills but the RV took all the hills in stride and there were no problems. US 395 is really a pretty drive. The mountains were still covered in snow. Some places they look like a gigantic chocolate ice cream sunday topped with whipped cream.
Last night we met our temporary neighbors. They are both from Canada. He served in the US Navy and became a citizen while he was in the Navy. After retiring from the Navy, we worked for Lockheed, then retired again. They provided a lot of good insights to our planned trip into Canada and Alaska and pointed out some things we really need to see.
Today we stopped by Costco for a few things, then went downtown to see the Cinco de Mayo celebration. Actually, we didn't know about the celebration until we went downtown but it was fun.
Then we drove to the next town and had a buffet dinner. This buffet is like no other buffet we've ever been to. First, it seems expensive at $17.95 per person. Then you see what they have. In the appetizer area there was several different salads, snow crab, oysters on the half shell, boiled shrimp, smoked salmon, smoked trout, herring, and lots of other good stuff. That by itself could easily be a meal. Then, in the main course area they had steak, pork loin, halibut, chicken, steamed vegetables, two different kinds of rice, two different kinds of potatoes, roast baron of beef, and soup. We sampled almost everything. Finally, they have their own bakery for deserts. Going to that particular buffet is painful because you eat so much.
Since Gambling is legal in the Silver State, we did play some of the slot machines. Understand that neither of us are high stakes gamblers but we did manage to come out ahead. All in all, the trip to the casinos, including dinner, cost us about $5.00. That's not bad.
Now, where are we? We are in Reno Nevada. The buffet is in the Nugget in Sparks. For those of you who haven't been here, it's difficult to tell the difference between Sparks and Reno. Some of the casinos in Reno are further away from downtown Reno than the casinos in Sparks. The Sparks downtown area is made kind of like a Victorian Square and is very clean and pretty. That makes it much nicer than downtown Reno.
We left Reno this morning and headed north on US 395. We made a slight detour to drive through Susanville, then went back to US 395 and headed north again. We did pass a town that advertised "World Famous Lizard Races" during the first week in August. So, if you're in Doyle California during the first week in August, you too can see the World Famous Lizard Races. If Angel's Camp can have Frog Jumping Contests, why can't Doyle have Lizard Races?
The drive has been beautiful. We are in the high plains of California pretty much surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks. Right now we are camped just outside a small town at a relatively new RV and Golf resort. Larry did play nine holes of golf after we arrived. He was planning on walking the course but Adrienne decided to go along, so he rented a cart. Please understand that this course is 600 acres, and that's a lot of land. The course is spread out in the hills and some of the holes are probably about a quarter mile apart. That is, you finish at the green at one hole and go about a quarter mile to the next tee. It's likely to be the prettiest course Larry has ever played. Larry may not be the best golfer but he sure enjoyed playing. The scenery was simply beautiful and wild. We saw deer on the driving range. On the golf course was a sign that said, "Please don't feed the Mountain Lions." We didn't see any mountain lions but we did see plenty of paw prints that could have been from a mountain lion and plenty of droppings that could also be from a mountain lion. We also saw a snake on the cart path. We didn't stop to identify it but Adrienne did say it was non-poisonous.
We didn't give much of a description of where we are because, except for the mountains, the ranching, and the agriculture, there just isn't much here except beautiful scenery and a very nice golf course and RV park.
We are camped near the town of Likely California (population: 100) at the Likely Place RV and Golf Resort. It's in the high desert (close to 5,000 feet in altitude) and is just beautiful.
on the way north.
We left Likely California today and again headed north on US 395. We are in Oregon in a town that was once the unofficial capital of the 19th-century cattle empires that staked claim to the grasslands of this high desert plateau. This town now is a transportation hub. There is also a Paiute Indian reservation nearby.
The drive today was really beautiful. The first part was in California and was mostly farm land and rangeland for cattle. Once we reached Oregon we were driving through large valleys, open range lands a couple of large lakes, all with mountains in the background. Even though this is really desert, (when we crossed the state line, the sign said, "Welcome to Oregon, the Outback Country) it is far different from any other desert we've driven through. This desert is green with mountains in the background! Although we will turn off of US 395 once we leave here, sometime we would like to take US 395 all the way to the Canadian Border. It's only two lanes but, considering we saw less than 20 cars in about 100 miles, two lanes is not bad. Plus, the scenery is really wonderful.
Now, where are we? We are in the town of Burns Oregon.
Subj: 67. Where are we?
Date: Wednesday, May 8, 2002 4:07:17 PM
We decided to spend an extra day in Burns Oregon. Yesterday we woke up to cold winds and snow flurries. That was a good enough reason to stay an extra day. Now we are camped in the shadow of the Cascade Mountain Peaks, in a Pine woods. We're still at a relatively high elevation (over 4000 feet above sea level); in fact we've been over 4000 feet in elevation for almost a week now.
Today, when we left Burns, we drove west toward the Cascade Mountains. Between Burns and Bend is about 130 miles of rangeland. Road signs show three towns between Burns and Bend but they seem to consist of nothing more than a gas station or a cafe. Brothers is the single exception, there was also a school in Brothers. The country is desolate but it was still a pretty drive.
Once we reached Bend, we made a mistake. We wanted to take US 97 south. We saw a sign that said Business US 97 south but we wanted to avoid the business district. Unfortunately, we ended up in downtown Bend with the RV pulling the truck. We also ended up making a wrong turn. When we discovered we were headed toward Mount Bachelor, we turned around, asked directions from a truck driver, and retraced our route to get on US 97. Fortunately, that was done with no major problems.
From Bend we headed south to our current location.
Where are we? We are in the pine woods near La Pine Oregon.
Subj: 68. Where are we?
Date: Thursday, May 9, 2002 6:17:31 PM
We left La Pine this morning and first headed south, then west. We are now near the second largest city in the Beaver State (that's Oregon). We are at the southern end of the Willamette Valley at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers. This area is known as a major lumber and wood products center.
The drive today from La Pine was typical of what we have come to expect from Oregon, a really beautiful drive. It was cool coming down the mountains and we did hit a little bit of rain but that could not detract from the beautiful scenery. We saw snow covered mountain peaks, beautiful lakes, and right beside the road was the Willamette River. The flowers were beginning to bloom so we saw fields of yellow, blue, and red.
If some of this sounds familiar, we were in this same campground last September. Where are we? We are in Colberg Oregon, just outside of Eugene Oregon when Michelle and Keith (Larry's older daughter and son-in-law) live. We expect to be here for a few days, getting stocked up with things for the long trip to Alaska.
Subj: 69. Where are we?
Date: Monday, May 13, 2002 5:55:30 PM
We left Eugene Oregon today and continued our trip north. We are now in the Evergreen State. We are camped in an RV park right on the Columbia River. In fact, as we type this, we saw, through the front window of the RV, a very large ship going up river. The town we are in is obviously on the Columbia River, but, according to the our AAA Tour Book, this town was settled in the mid 1800s and soon developed into a bustling center for the surrounding farming, dairying, and poltry raising area. Early in the 20th century, logging was a major industry.
We thoroughly enjoyed our four day visit in Eugene. Of course, Larry's daughter (Michelle) and her husband (Keith) are in Eugene. We met several times for dinner and just socializing. We decided some time ago that we would leave our 14 year old puppy, Whitney, with Keith and Michelle while we travel to Alaska. Keith and Michelle were happy to take Whitney while we're gone. Whitney seemed to adapt to her new surroundings very well and Keith and Michelle adapted to Whitney right away.
Most of our time was spent getting the RV ready for the trip through Canada to Alaska, buying supplies, cleaning the inside, putting things away, an so forth.
Where are we? We in Woodland Washington, right on the Columbia River (which separates Oregon and Washington), at the Columbia Riverfront RV Park. It's really beautiful, even with the typical northwestern cloud cover.
Subj: 70. Where are we?
Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2002 7:02:32 PM
We left Woodland Washington late this morning in a typical northwest rain shower. Fortunately, after about 30 miles the rain stopped and the sun actually came out. As we write this, the sun is shining on us. The drive today was all Interstate driving. Not our favorite way of traveling but it was appropriate. At least here in Washington, Interstate 5 is pretty with all the Scotch Broom and Evergreen Trees along the side of the road. The drive also illustrated why Washington is called the Evergreen State. We saw lots of fir and spruce trees along the way.
We did pass through the capitol of Washington (Olympia) and on the Eastside of Washington's largest city (Seattle). We decided to drive around the city because I-5 goes right through downtown Seattle and, we know from our previous trips to Seattle, traffic is usually very bad. I-405 goes around the Eastside of Seattle. For those of you familiar with the Los Angeles freeways, this is not the same I-405 as the San Diego Freeway.
This city was formed in 1903 by the consolidation of four adjacent communities. It takes its name from the bay it overlooks. The bay in turn was named by Capt. George Vancouver's 1792 expedition in honor of a controller in the British Navy. Nearby are snow covered mountain peaks, one of which is probably Mount Baker.
One of the things this city is known for is its Cruise Terminal. The terminal is the southern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway's weekly ferry service to Ketchikan, Juneau, and other ports in the Alaska panhandle.
Where are we? We are in Bellingham Washington, not too far from the Canadian border.
on the way to Alaska
Subj: 71. Where are we?
Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2002 4:48:29 PM
We are now camped where the Coquihalla and Fraser Rivers meet. This is a very nice small community directly beneath the western side of the Cascades and on the eastern shore of the mighty Fraser River. The community dates from 1848 when the famous Hudson's Bay Company established a fort. The town developed rapidly, especially during the gold rush of 1858. This town is also known as the "Chainsaw Carving Capital" of Canada. Yes, we are in Canada.
We left Bellingham Washington this morning and, this time, we stayed off the interstate and drove on state highways. The scenery was really wonderful. That part of Washington is an agricultural area. It appears to be a valley with high mountain peaks visible in all directions.
We crossed the US-Canadian border at Sumas Washington and immediately we were in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. The border crossing was no problem although we did have to give up a bag of potatoes. The Canadian Immigration did ask if we had any firearms on board (we don't), if we had any fresh fruit or vegetables (we do but they weren't interested), and finally if we had any potatoes (yes, we had a couple of pounds of potatoes), they confiscated the potatoes and threw the entire of potatoes in a trash can.
We forgot to mention yesterday that shortly after we left the campground and headed north on I-5, our windshield was hit by a small rock. We expected that to happen on this trip but not until we reached the beginning of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek. It's only a small "star" and we have the material to repair it with us, thanks to a recommendation from some friends we met in Inyokern.
Since we only drove about 75 miles today, we had plenty of time to get out to see the town. It's really a very quaint town with about two dozen chainsaw carvings in various places around the town. The carvings are really something.
We also noticed that this part of Canada is quite reasonable from a cost standpoint. The campground fee was $51.00 Canadian for two nights. At the current rate of exchange, that amounts to $34.00 US. It's a beautiful campground in the woods and has full hookups. We are having some trouble getting used to using the metric system instead of the English system of units. Everything is measured in Kilometers, meters, kilograms, and liters. Since the exits are numbered in kilometers, it feels strange to see them change so fast. A Kilometer is about 0.6 miles so every three miles the distances and exit numbers change by 5 kilometers. The gas stations are certainly different than what we're used to. The gas prices are typically shown as about 65.9. Of course that means, 65.9 CANADIAN cents per LITER. If you do the conversion from liters to gallons, and from Canadian dollars to US dollars, that's about $1.66 per gallon. In Sumas Washington gas was about $1.25 per gallon. We filled up both the RV and the truck in Bellingham at $1.40 per gallon. Adrienne claims she will remain confused with the money and the metric system. "It is all in Larry's engineering hands"!
Also interesting is that the lowest denomination of paper money in Canada appears to be a $5.00 bill. They do have pennies, nickels, maybe dimes (we don't know for sure), quarters, dollar coins, and two dollar coins. The two dollar coins are made from two different metals. They are like an aluminum washer with a copper penny in the middle. The dollar coins are copper colored, are slightly smaller than the two dollar coin, and have twelve sides. Frankly, that makes a lot more sense than having one dollar bills.
Now, Where are we? We are in Hope, British Columbia, Canada. It is really beautiful and we plan to stay here for at least two nights. We also learned that this weekend is Victoria Day, a major three day weekend in British Columbia. We may have problems getting a campsite over the weekend.
Subj: 72. Where are we?
Date: Friday, May 17, 2002 3:58:33 PM
We left Hope this morning and continued our adventure toward Alaska. We only drove a little over 100 miles today but the landscape has changed significantly. We left the snow capped mountains and the lush green valley of Hope this morning. Now we are in a semiarid region of low rolling hills. 150 years ago this was a bustling town of miners searching for gold.
Yesterday we toured various things around Hope. First we drove up Coquihalla Canyon to see the Othello-Quintette tunnels. These are abandoned railway tunnels. They were built from 1911 to 1916 to complete the Kettle Valley Railway. The railroads problem was finding a way to get through the Coquihalla gorge where the river had cut a 300-foot deep channel in a wall of solid granite. Once completed, washouts and rockslide plagued the railway line causing it to close in 1959. The short walk from the parking lot to the tunnels provide spectacular views of the Quintette River and the surrounding mountain peaks. When we saw the Bear Boxes in the parking lot, we decided to hold a very loud conversation, really about nothing!
We also drove up the Fraser River to Yale, BC. Yale, current population about 250, once was the largest town west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Yale was the first town to be incorporated in BC and was initially established as a trading post for the Hudson's Bay Company. During the gold rush days of 1858 it grew. But now it is just a small town, one of many on the Fraser River that grew because of gold, and disappeared when the gold was gone.
Further up the river was the town of Spuzzum. It used to consist of a cafe and a gas station, but we couldn't find either. We learned today that they both burned down about two years ago. There were several sayings about Spuzzum, one was, "If you haven't been to Spuzzum, you haven't been anywhere." The cafe was famous for it's folk lore about the Native American tales concerning Sasquash. This meant, the children sent out to become Medicine Men/Women and they were lost. Thus, they became large and had hair all over their bodies. In other words, this Native American tale made them sound like the "Big Foot" of Canada.
Further up river is a place called Hell's Gate. This is the narrowest and deepest part of the Fraser River. At Hell's Gate the Fraser River is just 110 feet wide, and when we were there, was 130 feet deep! Simon Fraser, the explorer for whom the river was named, explored the river in 1808 and referred to the white rapids in this area as the "Gates of Hell, where no human being should venture." In 1914, railroad builders caused a rock slide that throttled the river and almost destroyed one of the most magnificent sockeye salmon runs in the world. With the aid of the International Fishways (a cooperative effort between the United States and Canada), special fish ladders were build to allow the salmon to swim through the narrow passage.
A group of businessmen built an airtram from the highway, down 500 feet to the West Bank (we should say West Cliff) of the river. At the bottom there is a souvenir shop, a fudge factory, a snack bar, and a restaurant. This is a tourist trap but it's one that's really worthwhile. Yes, we did take the tram ride and it was great.
There are train tracks (and trains) on both sides of the Fraser River. They are for the Canadian-Pacific Railroad and the Canadian National Railroad. Looking at these tracks, many times laid along cliffs that had to be blasted or tunneled for the railroad bed is really something. We are sure it was very difficult to lay these tracks.
The drive today was really beautiful, we went from the Hope Valley, a small fertile valley surrounded by steep, snow capped mountains along the Fraser River through Hell's Gate, over several mountains, into a semi arid area with rolling hills. The mountains, which seem like sheer cliffs, are full of waterfalls. Some of them are high up on the cliffs, others are closer to the river. Part of today's drive was through mountain sheep country. In fact, there was one town that was supposed to have more wild sheep than people. We didn't see any people or sheep when we drove by. It was really a pretty drive. Some times it hard for Larry to drive the Motorhome and keep his eyes on the road while Adrienne is oohing and aahing over the scenery, but we've been successful so far.
Today we stopped at Lytton, the rafting capital of Canada. It is here where the Thompson River and the Fraser River meet. That is an interesting junction. The Fraser River is a very muddy brown, while the Thompson River is a clear blue. You can actually see the blending of the water where the two meet.
Now, Where are we? We are camped in Cache Creek BC Because it's Victoria Day weekend and the first summer holiday and long weekend in Canada, campgrounds are getting full. As a result, we plan on staying here until Monday when we will head north again.
Subj: 73. Where are we?
Date: Monday, May 20, 2002 6:07:54 PM
We left Cache Creek this morning and continued our drive north. We are now in a town that began as a supply town for the miners in the gold rush of the 1860s. The city was named after a local river that, in turn, was named for a fur trader who was a member of Simon Fraser's 1808 expedition down the Fraser River. (Remember, the Fraser River was named after Simon Fraser.) The dominant economic force here is forestry. The town has 2 pulp mills, a plywood plant, and 5 sawmills and planer mills.
We stayed in Cache Creek for three nights. It was probably a good thing that we did. Today, Monday, May 20, is a Canadian National Holiday, Victoria Day. It celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday. It is the first Canadian Holiday and starts the "summer" season, much like Memorial Day starts the summer season in the US. Consequently the campgrounds (called campsites in Canada) were very busy, and there was quite a bit of traffic on the road today. We need to be careful, quite a bit of traffic here means we saw other cars frequently, there were no traffic jams and we were able to drive the speed limit.
Cache Creek was an interesting very small town. Our first stop was at the Cariboo Jade Shop where they have a large piece of jade sitting in front of the store. Since it weights 2,850 pounds, they aren't too worried about someone running off with it. While we were there, the owner of the shop recommended a place to stop for lunch. It is Horsting Farms. Apparently they started as simply a fruit/vegetable stand, then they got the idea to open a restaurant. They serve sandwiches, home made rolls, home made soup, and home made pies. The two of us shared a sandwich on a roll, which was certainly good. Adrienne had asparagus soup and Larry had the onion and mushroom soup. The soup and half sandwich filled us up so we didn't have any of the pie. However, we did buy a piece of blueberry-rubarb pie and a piece of "plain" apple pie to go. We ate those after dinner and they were both great. If anyone gets to Cache Creek, this is a must stop for a "light" lunch, or at least desert.
After that we visited Hat Creek Ranch, a heritage attraction that illustrates what this area was like in the mid to late 1800s. We didn't go into the grounds and look at all the displays. We were probably too full from our soup and half sandwich at Horsting Farms.
Sunday, after doing the necessary evil of laundry, Larry went to the local golf course to play nine holes, Adrienne played caddie for him. This was one tough golf course for someone who is not used to fast greens and lots of hills. But, Larry certainly enjoyed playing nine holes.
We have to mention that the people that we camped next to us in Cache Creek were wonderful. They were from the town of Kamloops, about an hour east of Cache Creek. Their 11-year-old son, Mickey, was a real joy and quickly became friends with Adrienne. Of course Adrienne loves children so she enjoyed his visits. If Mickey follows through and sends us an E-mail, our where are we's will have an international distribution.
The drive today, about 200 miles, was again simply beautiful. We seem to overuse the word beautiful but it really describes this country. We were driving the Cariboo Highway. We went through several towns, some with strange names to us. We started at Cache Creek and passed through 20-Mile House, 100-Mile House, and 108-Mile House, to where we are now. Where did these names come from?
Cache Creek is supposed to have gotten its name from an ill gotten, and still unfound, cache of gold. A lone gunman, it seems, murdered a miner and stole his 80 pounds of gold, but was seriously wounded by a pursuing settler. The gunman cached his gold and disappeared forever leaving only a riderless horse with a bloody saddle as clues to his fate. Although not as colorful, the real story seems to involve a cache of food and was written before gold was discovered in this area.
20-Mile House, 100-Mile House, 108-Mile House. These refer to locations on the trail between Lillooet and Barkerville. When this area of British Columbia became known for the gold, miners would take the most direct route by foot, pack animals, and later by wagon and stage. In 1858 when the discovery of gold on the Fraser River attracted miners, it was used to reach the gold fields. As time elasped, shorter routes were discovered. The Royal Engineers (remember, Canada was a British colony at this time), built a road from Lillooet, to Clinton, to Barkerville. Along the way, settlers built road houses offering food and places to sleep. Each of these road houses were about one days travel apart and eventually became known as Mile Houses.
Since we are now driving along the Cariboo Highway, you might want to know how it got its name. Probably the most accurate explanation is that Cariboo is a misspelling of Caribou, an elk like animal that is supposed to be plentiful in this area (we haven't seen any yet). A more interesting legend attributes the name to an accident that occurred on one of the local creeks at the beginning of the mining era. The resident magistrate, William G. Cox, called Judge out of courtesy, was an Irishman. He bragged one day that he could go to the edge of town and shoot a caribou. Being challenged by a number of friends, he made a bet. The boys of the town then went up to the hills, killed a large bull caribou, propped it up on the hillside, and fastened a rope to the prop. When the judge arrived on the scene, he fired at the animal and a concealed conspirator pulled the rope to bring the carcass down. The boys offered to carry it home and Cox hurried to spread the news of his marksmanship. The boys spread the joke in the bar room that night. For week, Judge Cox was met with the offensive saying "Boo, Boo, Boo, Cariboo, Boo, Boo!" The name stuck and this country is still called Cariboo.
These stories bring up another question. How did British Columbia get it's name? Remember, we are in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. Before 1858, the territory that is now BC, or at least parts of it, were called New Georgia, New Hanover, Columbia, New Caledonia, and Stickeen Territory, as well as a number of other names. When the region was turned into a British Colony, the confusion had to be resolved. The matter was referred to the then Queen of England, Queen Victoria, who decided to preface the common Columbia with the adjective British. Hence the provice's name. It became official in 1858.
Finally, where are we? Of course we are in Canada. We are also in the Canadian Providence of British Columbia. We are camped at Robert's Roost Campsite just outside of Quesnel.
Subj: 74. Where are we?
Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2002 3:03:22 PM
We left Quesnel today and continued north, although we didn't drive very far. Right now we are outside the largest Canadian City that we have seen so far. It is located at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser rivers and is near the geographical center of British Columbia. It is the fourth largest city in BC and is primarily an industrial center, fairly dependent on the lumber industry.
Although Quesnel was wet and cool to cold, we enjoyed our visit and would like to return. We stayed at Robert's Roost Campground just a few miles south of the town. This was a very nice campground right on Dragon Lake. Although we haven't splurged for a BC fishing license yet, it is supposed to be a good lake for rainbow trout. We saw several people fly fishing in the rain.
We drove around the main part of Quesnel to view some of the sights. Our first stop was, of course, the visitor center. Next to the visitor center is a local museum. The museum was nice but typical of a lot of small town museums, didn't really focus on a theme. There were displays of medical equipment, cameras, dental equipment, mining equipment, and a number of other items. Like everyone we've found in British Columbia, the staff was very friendly.
We made three other stops in Quesnel. First was a place call Mary's Gifts. They advertised beanie babies. Larry wanted to see if he could find some kind of Canadian Beanie Baby for his ex-office manager. She doesn't know yet but she's getting three, a Canadian Bear, a 911 Bear, and a Canadian Father's Day Bear. Oops, now she knows. (Parents of our grandkids, please don't read this part to the kids! We want the Canadian and 911 Beanie Babies to be a surprise!) Of course we had to get a few other Beanie Babies for our grandkids.
We stopped by a park on the Fraser River and saw the walking trail around the town. The rainy and cool weather prevented us from making the 5 KM walk, but we did see a building that was the location of the Hudson' Bay Company's store in Quesnel. It's now a gift shop but the prices were a bit high. The same Beanie Babies that we paid $9.95 CDN for were priced at $25.00CDN. We guess they cater to American tourists. We liked Mary's much better.
Finally, we stopped at a Wal-Mart. Yes, there are some Wal-Marts in Canada. This stop was to get some more wet weather gear and check out the prices. After making the conversion to American Dollars, the prices weren't too bad. A plus was that Canadian made products were down right cheap. Larry bought a pair of Canadian made, waterproof walking shoes for $15.00 CDN, that's $10.00 US!.
We saw our first bear on the drive today. Off the side of the road, down a little hill was a black colored brown bear by a power pole. We couldn't stop and take pictures but there will be more. We saw this bear about 15 minutes after Adrienne said, "We probably won't see any wildlife unless we visit a preserve or something."
Where are we? We are just outside the city of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.
in wet, cool and beautiful British Columbia
Subj: 75. Where are we?
Date: Friday, May 24, 2002 4:25:11 PM
We left Prince George this morning and traveled north. We are now in a small town in BC that is known as the beginning, or Milepost 0 (that's zero), of the Alaska Highway. This area is primarily an agricultural region, depending on canola (from which Canola Oil is made), cereal grains, cattle, and dairy cattle.
We did enjoy our stay in Prince George, just like we've enjoyed our stays everywhere we've been in British Columbia. We did a little bit of sightseeing and exploring in Prince George. Of course our first stop was the visitor center, where, as usual, everyone was very helpful. We left with all sorts of literature and things to see and do. After taking care of a few erands, we stopped by the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum. Between raindrops we saw all kinds of rail road stock from large steam engines, to little run abouts, to engines with huge snow plows, freight cars, and passenger cars. It was interesting but sure would have been nicer in the sun.
After a little more touring, we found a Costco! That was a big surprise but we were able to stock up on food. Then we stopped at The Original Canadian Super Store, a super Wal-Mart type place, and finished our grocery shopping. One interesting thing about the the packaging in Canada is that all the packages are both English and French on them. We knew that was true in Eastern Canada but didn't really expect it in Western Canada. Canada does have two official languages, French and English, so that's probably why everything is labeled in two languages. However, it is strange to see Mexican food labeled in French and English but no Spanish.
Although we drove about 250 miles today, it was a nice drive. We started early, about 9:00 AM, made several stops to see sights, and arrived here just before 4:00 PM. We are in the Northern Lights Campground, about 2 miles south of the center of town. One of the reasons we chose this place is because they will do a Lube, Oil, and Filter change on the premises, actually on your site. We wanted to get an oil change for the Winnie before we started the rest of our trip to Alaska, so this worked out great.
We did see our second bear today. He (or she) was on one of the dirt cross roads and was running away from the highway. Traffic was very light after we left Prince George so we don't know why he was running. It was not a Kodak moment. We also saw several deer near the road. We haven't seen any moose yet. We did cross over the Rocky Mountains via the lowest pass in the Rockies in British Columbia. We did stop at one of the provincial parks to see a waterfall and take a good look at all the snow on the mountains.
Now, how about a history lesson on the Alaska Highway. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, a plan that had been in the development stage since 1930 was implemented. Alaska was considered to be vunerable to a Japanese attack and it was deemed necessary to build an overland route from the U.S. to Alaska. President Roosevelt authorized the construction of the road on February 11, 1942. Construction began on March 11, 1942, and was completed on October 25, 1942. So in less than 9 months, a road was built from where we now are to Delta Junction Alaska, a distance of almost 1500 miles! Originally it was called the ALCAN Highway, which sttod for Alaska Canada military highway, it was renamed the Alaska Highway in 1943.
Now, where are we? We are in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada.
getting ready to start our Adventure on the Alaska Highway
Subj: 76. Where are we?
Date: Sunday, May 26, 2002 5:15:32 PM
Now the adventure has really begun. We left Dawson Creek, Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, this morning and headed northwest toward Alaska. The town where we are was established in 1905 as a fur trading post. Now it thrives on visitors on the Alaska Highway, extracting natural resourses from the area, and visitors during the winter to see the northern lights (aurora borealis). It is surprising to know that as recently as the 1950s, this was still a pioneer community without power, phones, running water, refrigerators, or doctors.
Dawson Creek was small, but fun. We went to the visitor center, a local Farmer's Market, and did some sightseeing. Yes, we have a picture of Milepost 0 of the Alaska Highway in downtown Dawson Creek. While we were downtown, we decided to eat lunch at a well known Dawson Creek restuarant, the Alaska Cafe. Adrienne had the chicken quiche, Larry had the fish and chips (Halibut with a beer batter). Their soup of the day was French Onion which we also had. Everything was homemade and extremely good.
The drive today covered about 280 miles. That's typically more than we like to drive in a day but it was an easy drive, the road was good (better than some of the highways we've driven in the states), and traffic was almost nonexistant. However, we did hit a traffic jam coming into this campground. In fact, we recognize people and rigs who were camped at the same campground with us in Dawson Creek!
The landscape initially was been mostly rolling hills, farms, and pasture land. There were a few small towns, and several unincorporated areas that were basically small businesses. After a while, we headed into the mountains, well, really more like steeper rolling hills with a back drop of snow covered peaks. Sure, there were a few steep hills, a number of rivers, some twists and turns, even some rough road. It was still an easy drive.
We saw our first moose today, in fact we saw two. We also saw another bear. The bear seemed to be sleeping about 30 feet off the road. Larry thought it was a black log until we were right next to it and it moved. We saw lots of deer, 2 wild horses, an eagle and a grey wolf. There were several signs for Caribou, but we did not seen any.
Where are we? We are at Milepost 283 of the Alaska Highway, or Historical Mile 300. Over the years, the Alaska Highway has been changed from it's original course. It has been straightened. That's why today's milepost numbers are smaller than the Historical Mileposts. The name of the town is Fort Nelson.
Subj: 77. Where are we?
Date: Monday, May 27, 2002 4:54:23 PM
We have no idea when we will be able to send this. We are certainly in the primative areas of British Columbia. We stopped at two different places today and, except for their own generator, neither had power. Of couse there are no phones, no television, and we haven't been able to get satelite TV this far north. We guess we'll just have to learn how to talk to each other again. We only drove about 150 miles or so today. We had a relaxing drive and really enjoyed the scenery. The people who told us that it just gets prettier as you drive north were right. At least so far. Our current overnight place is on a large Jade green lake with snow capped mountains almost surrounding it. Although we might spurge on fishing licenses, they wouldn't do any good here, the lake is still frozen, well, mostly frozen. The people here told us that the ice just started breaking up two days ago, and this is the end of May!
We were told the road would get worse after Fort Nelson. We guess they they were right but it's still a good road. Sure, there were a few pot holes, very few, there were also a couple of short gravel sections where they were working. Still, it wasn't bad at all. We just slowed down a bit and enjoyed the drive.
The first place we stopped today, after buying gas in Fort Nelson for $0.81 CDN/Liter (that's about $2.04/gallon), was the Tetsa River Guest Ranch and Campground. Their speciality in the cafe was cinnamon buns, we each had one and they were great. Of course we had quite a long conversation with the gal working there. Their advertising claims they are the "Cinnamon Bun Center of the Galactic Cluster." The only improvement we can think of for their cinnamon buns is to add pecans, which are probably a rarity in these parts.
We've also see saw lots of wildlife today including a black bear, moose, stone sheep, big horn sheep, deer, and caribou. We were able to take pictures of most of them.
Now, where are we? We are at Muncho Lake, the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies.
Subj: 78. Where are we?
Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2002 5:07:57 PM
We left Muncho Lake this morning and continued our travel. For the first time we found some significant construction on the Alaska Highway. We had to follow a pilot car for several miles where they were working on the road. Although it was wet and muddy, it wasn't really too bad. We've been in worse places in the states. We're in a small town, but it's an important service stop on the Alaska and Campbell highways. It's also a communication and distribution center for this part of Canada; a base for trappers, hunters, and fishermen; and a supply point for area mining and mineral exploration.
Last night we ate dinner out, at the cafe at the Muncho Lake Campground. Everything was home made and was great. Larry had beef stew, Adrienne had breaded veal cutlets, the meals came with home made bread. We also had two beers and a glass of wine. It might not have been gourmet but it was delicious. The price was just over $39.00 CDN, but that translates into about $26.00 US. A very good meal and not really expensive.
As we drive, we are still startled by the beautiful scenery. Many of the areas we've traveled through are wooded. The contrast between the dark green evergreen trees and the light green of the deciduous trees is remarkable. We're far enough north that the deciduous trees are just beginning to get leaves. In fact, in some areas they seem to still be dormant.
Another thing that we are having difficulty with is the length of the days. The sun comes up very early in the morning (we're guessing around 4 AM), and doesn't set until midnight or later. That means our brains tell us it's about 7:00 PM or so and our bodies tell us it's 11:00 PM. We're trying to adjust to the long hours of daylight but it will take a while.
We saw several bears today and stopped to take pictures. They seem to ignore the tourists and sometimes even seem to pose for pictures. Mostly they just meander around eating plants. We aren't sure but one of the bears we saw may have been a grizzly bear. It was brown and we think it had the characteristic hump on the shoulder. Unfortunately, there was too much traffic to stop and no shoulder on the road to allow us to pull over. We also saw several wild bison and were able to get pictures of some of them.
Our advice to anyone who wants to travel the Alaska Highway is: 1. Just do it!, it's beautiful; 2. Don't leave home without the Milepost (a paperback book published annually that describes the highway mile by mile; 3. Take plenty of film; 4. Don't worry about what you have heard. We have traveled almost half way from Dawson Creek to the Alaska border and the road is fine. Sure there are rough spots, sure there has been some construction, yes there are hills and curves, but we've been on worse roads in the US.
This paragraph might be important for our children. We haven't had cell phone service since we left Fort Nelson, and may not have it again until we get into a large city in Alaska. However, E-mail is probably our best means of communicating, especially if there is an emergency.
Now, where are we? First, we are out of British Columbia and in the Yukon Territory, the same one that had the famous gold rush at the end of the 19th century. We are now in a small town that is famous for its sign post forest, where travelers post signs showing where they came from. We have a sign to post but haven't done it yet. We are now in Watson Lake, Yukon, Canada.
in the Yukon
Subj: 79. Where are we?
Date: Thursday, May 30, 2002 6:31:01 PM
We continued our trip toward Alaska. This morning we left Watson Creek and continued on the Alaska Highway to our current location. We are now just outside the largest city in the Yukon, it has a population of about 23,000 people. That's more than half of all the people who live in the Yukon!! It's also the capitol of the Yukon. The city was started in the 1890s as a stop over point for the miners headed to Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush! It is also the end of the White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railway that was built to take miners to the Yukon River on their way to the gold fields.
We spent two days in Watson Creek. As it turns out it's a good thing we did. Yesterday we discovered a flat tire on the truck. While we were having it fixed, we went across the street to The Sign Post Forest and added our sign to the 50,000 plus signs already there. Since it was taking a while to get the tire patched, we also went across the highway to the Northern Lights Center.
The Northern Lights Center is certainly a worthwhile stop while you're in Watson Lake. They have two shows in their domed theater. The first show is on the Myths and Legends of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis). The second show is a Yukon Wildlife presentation. Both are shown at each showing and are certainly worthwhile to see. Yes, there is an admission charge for the 45 minute show but it was quite reasonable.
Today we drove the Alaska Highway again. The beauty of this area is difficult to describe. As you drive, you see rivers, lakes, creeks, snow capped mountains, and wildlife. Every time you see a wonderful majestic sight, you find that around the next curve is a vista that's even more beautiful. We pity the people who drive the highway in a hurry and miss the wonderful sights along the way. Today, we stopped at a turn out and even took a short hike to the Rancheria Falls. We also took another turnout before we crossed the mighty Yukon River.
We've heard some people complain about the Alaska Highway. We don't know what they expect. It's not a super highway. It's not an Interstate. It's a two lane highway. Most of it so far has been reasonably wide and smooth. There are sections that are rough and narrow. Probably the worst part has been areas of construction. Those areas are muddy if it's been raining or dusty if it hasn't rained. Some of the construction areas are gravel so you just slow down and there is no problem.
Now, where are we? We are at the Hi Country RV Park just outside of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.
in the Yukon!