Saturday, July 12, 2008

Journey's End!

Our last post was from Cassiar RV Park in Kitwanga, BC. We departed there early Friday morning, the 4th of July. While America was celebrating it's birthday, we were still far north in British Columbia, Canada. The further south we went, the better the roads became and the warmer it was. We started to see temperatures in the low 60's instead of the high 40's. Wildlife sightings became less frequent and the critter's were smaller; foxes, a coyote and at one point a lynx crossed the road ahead of us.

Friday afternoon found us in Vanderhoof, BC at a delightfully immaculate campground called Dick's RV Park. There we met a couple from Merritt, BC; Morley and Henny. They were on their maiden voyage in their new Class A motorhome (think Greyhound Bus size). We got along very well and had a great chat about the RV life. After saying goodbye on Saturday morning, little did we expect that they would pull into the same campground in Lac La Hache, BC later that day. The picture above is our site at that campground. I made my last attempt to catch a fish in Canada that afternoon. After dinner, we joined our new friends in their coach for drinks and conversation.

Sunday was our last full day in Canada. We traveled to Oliver, BC by a lesser highway with great scenic views. The last 40 miles or so was along a very large lake that was obviously a popular resort area for southern British Columbia. We had a good spot in a combination motel and campground with 2 special attractions for us; a great supply of fresh cherries picked from trees in the campground and a swimming pool/jacuzzi that we enjoyed very much. It is getting much hotter now that we are near the US border.

Monday morning found us crossing the border into Washington state about 9:00 am. For the first time, a customs officer decided to take a look into the camper. She was very brief and did not find anything to confiscate, so we were on our way towards the KOA in Spokane. While in Spokane, we met up with a brother of my sister-in-law, Joanie. Charlie and his 5 year old daughter came out to the campground to chat for an hour or so. We had a good visit.

Tuesday morning we crossed the panhandle of Idaho, going along beautiful Coeur d' Alene Lake before crossing into Montana and the Mountain Time Zone. We were starting to feel close to home. We had made reservations at the Wagonhammer RV Park in North Fork, ID for our last night on the road. This is the same RV Park where we spent our first night of the trip. The owners remembered us and welcomed us back. They have a 5:00 pm cocktail hour in the main building every night and we met several other wonderful folks there.

Wednesday morning at 6:30 we headed down highway 93 for home. On the way, I completed a work project for my former employer (had to make a little money to help pay for this trip); but we managed to arrive back home about 1:00 pm. It sure is different to have 1,800 sq. ft. to live in than the 200 sq. ft. we have been in for the last 7 weeks. I went to the post office and picked up 2 tubs of mail and we manage to start going through that pile before the end of the day.

Well, it is over. We drove 8,422 miles from start to finish. We did not have any flat tires, no chipped windshields or any mechanical failures. The truck and camper did get seriously dirty, but a little soap, water and elbow grease will cure that problem. This is something we will remember for a lifetime, but will not do again. Alaska is incredible, but it is a long ways away, and Canada is a very expensive place in which to travel. Diesel fuel in Canada hovered above $6.00 per gallon. Food is also very expensive. About the only reasonable cost we found in Canada were the campground fees.

We hope you enjoyed taking this journey with us. Our next trip will be starting August 10th when we head for the family reunion in South Dakota, followed by a stopover in our former neighborhood in Colorado.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Iskut to Vanderhoof, BC

After leaving Mountain Shadow we continued south on Highway 37. The road is starting to improve, but we are still in the remote area of British Columbia. Wildlife sightings Thursday included 2 black bear cubs and one coyote. All sightings were brief and we didn't get any photos. We spent Thursday night at Cassiar RV Park in Kittwanga. No TV or Wi-fi, but the nice young lady in the office let me use her dial up account to check my e-mail. Since there was nothing pressing to attend to, I decided to relax and enjoy the local area. Rosie and I took a short walk down a path towards a nearby river, where we came upon a field of white wildflowers which is the background for this picture of Rosie.
It rained again Thursday night in Kittwanga and was raining when we left Friday morning. We had a long drive planned for today, about 300 miles to Prince George since we needed to find a good supermarket. We did not expect to find one until Prince George, but were pleasantly surprised to find a full blown Safeway in Smithers, where we were able to stock up on food for us and for Sammy. That gave us the option of finding another overnight spot prior to St. George. We discovered this really delightful park in Vanderhoof. It is exceptionally clean and well laid out and in a great setting. They also have cable TV and a really good internet.
Wildlife today was limited to one fox. The roads are getting much better and I was able to put the cruise control on 55 for long periods of time. We are finally back in cell phone range; although still subject to a 69 cents per minute roaming charge for Canada. Two more nights in Canada and we cross into Washington State on Monday morning. Photos will be updated tonight, but they are becoming somewhat limited. You can only take so many pictures of highways going through mountains. We are getting more into farm country with fields and cattle grazing. That is a welcome change of scenery.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The journey home!

We have completed our last day in Alaska and have headed home for Idaho. We left Skagway on a rainy Tuesday morning. The grade that you climb out of Skagway is long and appears to be very steep. However the old Chevy Duramax Diesel did it's job and we made the top of the grade in due time; to be greeted by the Canadian Customs Agent. After a few questions, we were on our way.

We drove out of the rain in about 2 hours and headed northeast, back towards the Alaska Highway. Our first choice for a campground was deserted and there was no one in the office. We headed into Watson Lake, BC and stumbled into the Downtown RV Park. Sure enough, the wi-fi worked and there was cable television. We got our CNN news fix and learned more than we needed to know about Seattle current events. There was even a decent grocery store and we stocked up on a few things. A caravan of about 20 big rigs pulled in about 4:30 in the afternoon. What a sight.

On Wednesday morning, we checked out the signpost forest in Watson Lake before we left town. As you can see in the picture, Rosie found a sign from her homeland. We put another $100 of diesel in the Chevy and headed back west up the Alaska Highway. Why west, you ask? Well, we wanted to come home a different way than we went so we could see some more of Canada; so we were going back west about 10 miles to connect with Highway 37 south through British Columbia.

While the scenery was new, the view through the windshield continues to be a highway (a bit rough in places) going through the forest. We cannot believe how many trees there are in this country. Wildlife is becoming a rare site. We saw 3 foxes at 3 different times. Only one hung around long enough to get his photograph taken. After 210 miles we arrived at our destination; Mountain Shadow RV Park. This is a beautiful park in the woods, near a lake and nowhere near civilization. No cable TV, but the wi-fi works great; which is how I am getting this blog out tonight. Two more days on the route will get us to Prince George, the largest town we will see until we arrive in Spokane, WA on Monday. I will see if the signal here is strong enough to upload photos. Be back at you later for more of our journey home.