Saturday, July 30, 2016

Moving along the Alaska Highway


After leaving Jasper National Park we continued on north and joined the Alaska Highway (Alcan) at Dawson Creek BC.  Dawson is known as mile 0 of the highway which stretches for 1500 miles to Fairbanks Alaska.  


The Alaska Highway was built in 1942 as part of the war effort.  By this time Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and had already invaded and were occupying the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.  There was a real fear that they would invade main land North America via Alaska.  In an effort the provide better defense for North America the US Army was task with building the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek BC to Fairbanks as an overland supply route.  Dawson Creek was the farthest point north that the railroad reached.  They were given one year to build it.  Ultimately 11,000 troops and 16,000 civilian workers were able to carve out a two lane road through 1500 miles of wilderness and mountains in 8 months.  They worked under horrific conditions ranging from 90 degree summers to –70 degrees in the winter.  When completed the road was very basic with 90 degree turns and 25% grades but met the objective of providing a supply route to Alaska.


From Dawson Creek to continued up to Fort Nelson BC where we spent two nights.  On Saturday, July 30, we took a day trip about a 130 miles north to visit Fort Liard in Northwest Territories (NWT).  Fort Liard is a First Nations community on the banks of the Liard River about 30 miles north of the BC/NWT line .  The road up to NWT was excellent and there was NO traffic.  Actually the highway was better than most of the more traveled roads.  At the border the road changed to gravel but was still in good condition.  In the 100 miles or so to the border we only met 8-10 other vehicles.  We were hoping to spot lots of wildlife on this remote road but only spotted a bison and two black bears.

Tomorrow we will continue up the Alcan toward Muncho Lake where we hope to do some kayaking in its blue green waters.



Spotted this Rockey Mountain Big Horn sheep shortly after leaving Jasper National Park



Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway (Alcan)



Some of the tools that build the 1500 mile long Alaska Highway… in 8 short months




This is what happens when a construction zone pilot car takes us into a wet sand trap… fortunately they had some big equipment to pull us out.  Only cost us an hour or so delay.



We finally made it to Northwest Territories…long long way from home



Within a couple kilometers of entering Northwest Territories this big guy was on the side of the road greeting us…



A view from the Alcan.  The beauty is hard to describe and photos can’t capture the vastness of the landscape




Day 10 – July 27, 2016, 132 miles



Day 11 – July 28, 2016, 229 miles



Day 12 – July 29, 2016, 288 miles


Day 13 – July 30, 2016, 265 miles


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta


We had an awesome drive from Lake Louise to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway in Banff and Jasper National Parks.  Yesterday was very cloudy and rainy but today we woke to a bright blue sky which made the drive even better. 

We were well over halfway through the parkway and were just commenting about there being no wildlife when we spotted a black bear right on the side of the road eating berries.  He was so focused on the berries that we were able to get really close.  A few more miles down the road we spotted two Bighorn Sheep along the roadside.

Tomorrow we will be heading out of the mountains and into the northern Alberta prairie.


We visited Lake Louise last evening but the cloudy skies hid some of the beauty



Lots of Fireweed around the lake and on the roadsides



So many beautiful views along the Icefields Parkway







Views are great in every direction you look










You could see several glaciers from the road





Nice black bear.  He was so intent on getting the berries from the bush that we were able safely get very close.  We were on one side of the road and he was on the other.  Our second closest bear encounter ever.



A Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep along the roadside.  Think she must have been licking the salt from the roadside as there was no grass to eat.



Day 9 - July 26, 2016, 146 miles


Monday, July 25, 2016

Kootenay National Park


We made the 80 mile drive through Kootenay National Park today.  The park is nice with lots of snow capped mountains and the road basically follows the Kootenay River which gave some awesome views.  There were lots of deer along the road but we didn’t see any bear or moose…holding out hope for tomorrow. 

We are spending the night at the Lake Louise Park Campground just outside the village of Lake Louise.  The campground is a little unique as it is surrounded by an electric fence to keep the bears away. 

Tomorrow we drive through Banff Park along the Icefields Parkway which is a 230 km drive to passes 100 glaciers and several waterfalls.


Welcome to Kootenay National Park


Such beautiful water











Notice how the rocks have been smoothed by the rushing water







Hello Alberta!



Yup…  The second tire failure of the trip.  Bet it’s won’t be the last!



Day 8 – July 25, 2016, 92 miles


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Moving on into BC


After heading into Montana we made an overnight stop in Stevensville MT so Valerie could visit an old high school friend.  They hadn’t seen each other since high school.  The visit was great and we were treated with a huge T-bone meal with meat from their ranch.  Yum! 

From Stevensville it was a quick trip up to Flathead Lake to visit our daughter Courtney who is the camp host at a state park near Bigfork MT.  While there we gorged ourselves on Flathead Cherries which were at the peak of the season.  We also had a nice time kayaking on the lake and finding some of the geocaches around the area. 

With all the visiting done for this trip it was time to head into Canada.  We crossed the border at Roosville MT with only a 15 minute delay which isn’t too bad.  The crossing was uneventful with the standard questions… have any fire arms, pepper spray, or other weapons?  Where are you going and purpose of your trip? From Roosville we continued on to Radium Hot Springs which is at the entrance to Kootenay National Park.  We plan to head into the park tomorrow.

Just for the fun of it, we stopped at a grocery store in Radium Hot Springs and once again were shocked at the prices.  Two years ago we found that prices in Canada were about 3 times higher than in the US and things haven’t changed since there.  A gallon of milk, that we would pay $1.99 at home, is selling for $5.99.  A dozen of eggs, that at home would be near a dollar, are going for $4.99.  A head of California grown lettuce was $2.99 a head.  Guess that free health care isn’t so free after all!


View of Flathead Lake.  Beautiful in the summer but not so nice in the winter!



No trip to Flathead would be complete without getting so “Flathead Cherries”



We are being watched…



Not too bad a view…




View of the Kootenay River from just south of Radium Hot Springs BC



Day 4 – July 21, 2016, 71 miles



Day 5 – July 22, 2016, 202 miles



Day 7 – July 24, 2016, 248 miles


Friday, July 22, 2016

Making Our Way North


We are slowly making our way north.  The last three days have been lots of driving with nearly 1200 miles covered.  The first night we stayed just north of the Grand Canyon at Jacob Lake in AZ. 

The second day was a loooong day as we made our way from northern AZ to north of Salt Lake City.  We have made this trek many times before and really dread this part of the drive.  The 100 miles or so through the Salt Lake Valley is brutal with tons of traffic and lots of nutty drivers.  Luckily we made it through relative unscathed and spend the night at Willard Bay State Park near Ogden UT. 

Our third day started out rough with having to replace a tire on the trailer but ended with a gorgeous drive through Idaho and Montana.  One of our most favorite parts of the drive is always the area around Wisdom MT.  Wisdom is a small ranching town in a valley with rolling hills and surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks.  We ended the day in the Saw Tooth mountains at the Indian Tree campground just south of Sula MT.



Beautiful view from our lunch stop near Marble Canyon in northern AZ between Page and the Grand Canyon.



Found these small inukshuks in the campground at Jocob Lake. These are typically found in far northern Canada and Alaska so must have been left by some recent visitors



The view shortly after entering Montana from Idaho.  It's views like that that give Montana the "Big Sky" nickname. So wide, open, and beautiful!





A word of advice for fellow RV’ers… When you are doing your “walk around” take a good look at the tread on your tires… Note how the tread is wavy.  Removed the tire and discovered that one of the belts had busted.  A few more miles and it would have blown and done who knows home much damage.  This was a new tire with less than 800 miles on it!


Day 1 – July 18, 2016, 347 miles


Day 2 – July 19, 2016, 401 miles



Day 3 – July 20, 2016, 411 miles