Author Archives: Emily Turner

Temporary Pause in Releasing New Blog Posts

We’ve had a personal tragedy that is certainly going to delay the release of new blog posts. 

Our house burned to the ground on October 5th while we were at dinner to celebrate Jon’s birthday. 

In the matter of a few hours, the house and most of our belongings were gone forever. The investigators don’t think they will ever know how it started.

Fortunately, the firefighters were able to keep our Fuso, Robinson Fuso, from burning. So we may not have our big home, we still have the things in our tiny home. The fire crew really worked hard to save it once it was clear they couldn’t save our house. 

Robinson Fuso did not make it out unscathed. The most obvious damage to the Fuso was to the plastic parts on the roof and passenger side. 

Jon has bought replacement vent hoods and such. We have replaced a few of them so far.

In addition to the obvious damage there has been damage to the fiberglass as well. Fiberglass may not melt like vinyl and plastic, but the resins and gel coat can be damaged by high heat. Some of this damage wasn’t evident until later. There is now a crack in along the curve up to the roof. 

The gel coat along the passenger side has both small and large bubbles under and on the surface. 

We haven’t decided what we are going to do with her. There are several options. 

A) Have a custom box made for her to replace the Bigfoot camper. 

B) Buy a new or used Bigfoot camper to replace the current one. A complication to this plan is that Bigfoot no longer makes truck campers this size.

C) Attempt to repair the fiberglass. Even if we repair it so that it looks good, we will never know if it has been irreparably damaged. It might crack or break at any time, especially considering some of the places we go. I most certainly wouldn’t be confident in it making down the Dempster Highway. 

It is really good that the camper has double-pane windows. Otherwise it probably wouldn’t have made it through at all. Everything inside would have been severely water damaged. The only things we have left is what was in the Fuso.

We are blessed to have really wonderful friends. They say you know who your real friends are during moments of tragedy. Well, it turns out we have a lot more friends than we realized.

It is hard for us to accept and receive help. We tend to try to be self reliant and the people offering aid rather than receiving it. But this is so much more than anyone would be able to handle on our own. 

Our friends have set up a Facebook group to coordinate assistance and to keep them informed about what is happening.

 Emily and Jon Turner Facebook Group 

I hope to be able to finish our blog posts about our Epic journey at some point. I really want to share the amazing places we visited, especially the Yukon. At least I still have all of those photos.

Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | Leave a comment

Day 59 – Dawson City

Monday, June 19

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We arrived in Dawson City pretty early in the day. We drove to the center of the town and stopped at the Information Center.
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Dawson City was originally the capital of the Yukon Territory. At the time, it was one of the most populous towns in the Yukon as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896. The First Nation settlement’s population swelled to over 40,000.
The current town has a year round population of about 1,100. In the summer, there are twice as many residents and a lot more tourists. The town is a combination of Canadian National Heritage Center and private property.
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The development regulations are very restrictive. It makes for a colorful town with the flavor of a late 1800’s gold rush town. Most of the streets are dirt and the sidewalks are boardwalks.
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The Dawson City Information Center contains both the town tourist information center with the staff wearing period costumes and the National Parks office with its staff wearing the park service uniforms. It offers free wifi and restrooms in addition to helpful information.
Since it was Canada’s 150 year anniversary, admission to the National Parks is free. Since there isn’t an admission fee to visit Dawson City, the park system offered a free tour for one of the many sites that were a part of the Dawson City area. The most expensive tour was the one to Dredge #4, several miles outside of town.
A free tour of the Dawson City started at 3:30, so we signed up for that one and then left to find a place to camp.
We were able to get a campsite at the Gold Rush Campground located at the edge of the downtown. The campsites are small, but the location and condition were amazing. It is well maintained and operated. Plus, they had a laundry. We really needed one at this point. They do a great job of maintaining the campground and it is within walking distance of almost all of the sights.
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After settling in, we walked back to the downtown for our tour. The park service tour guide is a year round resident and really shared her love of the place.
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In addition to her, we were joined by a period actor that told the story of Dawson City during the Gold Rush. It made for a fascinating tour and a real love for the area. I can’t imagine being here in the winter, but I can picture us spending several weeks here.
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The town has a historic but funky, creative side.
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It has several really good restaurants. We tried out Klondike Kate’s.
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Great food with a focus on local cuisine. I ordered elk sausage with blueberries and Jon selected Cowboy Poutine. Both were great.
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It had been a pretty long day, so we headed back to our camper for a while. We planned on going to Diamond Tooth Gerdie’s later that night. It is a non-profit casino, saloon, and dance hall. All proceeds go to the Klondike Visitors Association, which helps pay for upkeep and restoration of the town. It costs $12 for an annual membership, so you can attend as many times as you want.
They have three shows a night, each of them different. The early show is a rather tame dance hall show. The 10:00 one is more of an adult vaudeville version. The midnight show is more of a burlesque show without the gold rush town influences.
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We attended the 10:00 show which was a lot of fun. We were able to get a table up front. Jon was pulled on stage by one of the six dancing girls. He and the other five guys were given skirts and a hair ribbon and taught to dance. Everyone had fun.
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We were ready for bed by the time the show was over.
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Day 58 – Whitehorse and the Klondike Highway

Sunday, June 18
Lessons learned:
In most parts of Canada, you can only buy beer, wine and spirits at a government operated shop or a private shop dedicated to selling alcohol. The availability of those shops is highly restricted and almost all are closed on Sundays, Mondays and holidays.
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Our plan for Sunday was to do a little grocery shopping and visiting a liquor shop before starting our journey up the Klondike Highway towards Dawson City.
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Our first stop was at the Wal-Mart. The parking lot was full of RVs and campers. Some of them appear to have been there for a long time.
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The Wal-Mart was as disappointing as the other ones we’ve been to in Canada. The shelves were half empty and the prices were much higher than expected, even considering the location. There weren’t very many customers either.
We went to the  President’s Choice Grocery Superstore. It looks like everyone goes shopping on Sunday. The store was packed and the fresh produce was seriously depleted. We bought what we could.
After another couple of stops, we started the next leg of our journey. We drove north on the Klondike Highway towards Dawson City.
The Klondike Highway from Whitehorse to Dawson City is a 321 mile paved highway with very limited services along the way.
Even though the road is paved, frost heaves often appear without warning. You are driving along and suddenly the highway drops for a short section, kind of like very large reverse speed bumps. Sometimes there are cones or flagging along the side of the road, but usually the only thing you see is the tire marks from cars slamming on their brakes. And then you’re in the middle of it.
We passed this accident which was probably due to a combination of speed, frost heaves and a slight turn. Everyone seemed to be ok, the vehicle was not.
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We stopped at the Watson Lake Territorial Campground to see what kind of amenities we could expect in Yukon Territorial Campgrounds. It was already quite full.
Northern Canada is subject to wildfires.
We picked up a guide to the forest fires along the Klondike Highway. The section of road from Whitehorse to Dawson is part of the Fire Belt.
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It is part of the natural cycle of forest growth and rebirth, but this far north, it takes a long time to recover.
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Most of the trees are dependent on periodic fires for the health of the forest. Fireweed is a treasured flower in the northern climes because it is one of the first plants to bloom after a fire.
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We planned on camping at the Pelly Crossing Territorial Campground. It seemed to be at a good halfway point along the highway.
When we got there, we didn’t find a Territorial Campground. We found a mostly derelict campground. There were no signs. Most of the campsites were overgrown and even the road through it hadn’t seen much traffic. It wasn’t a place we wanted to stay for the night, so we continued driving north.
Even though we were tired, we stopped to look at the amazing view at Five Finger Rapids.
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We found a promising territorial campground at Moose Creek.
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It looked like a really campground. It had signs and a place to pay for camping there. We found regularly maintained vault toilets, shelters with seasoned firewood, and a water pump.
Fortunately, there were several empty campsites to choose from. We found one that worked great for us.
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There were fire rings and picnic tables at each site.
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The rest of our drive along the Klondike Highway was uneventful.
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Day 57 – Whitehorse, Yukon

Saturday, June 17

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Whitehorse is home to 25,000 residents which is approximately 70 percent of the population of the Yukon. It is the territorial capital of the Yukon in addition to being the largest town in northern Canada.

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It has the best selection of stores and services in northern Canada.
We wanted to find more information on the Yukon so we planned on visiting the Yukon Visitor’s Center and a bookstore. We planned on buying enough food and drinks for the next two weeks. There are just not very many options for shopping in the northern Yukon. And even if we could find stores, the selections were going to be very limited and expensive.

It was cold and a little drizzly that morning. We decided to walk into Whitehorse instead of taking the motorcycle or Fuso. We didn’t think we were all that far from the town, but it was quite a bit further than expected. At least the walk down Robert Service Way was downhill to town. Once we got close to town, we were able to take the greenway along the Yukon River.

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We stopped at the Visitor Center. It is a nice facility with free WiFi, bathrooms, and lots of places to sit.

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They have a large selection of information about the Yukon, northern Canada and Alaska. I think I picked up about 10 pounds of brochures and maps. The information desk is well staffed. They provided helpful information regarding road conditions and weather.

The visitor center also has a parking lot. which is really important if you are driving a larger vehicle. There aren’t a lot of parking options downtown. It was a weekend and the legislature wasn’t in session, so downtown Whitehorse wasn’t very crowded.

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Our next stop was Mac’s Fireweed bookstore. It has the best selection of books in the Yukon.

Mac’s Fireweed Bookstore

We bought a few maps and guidebooks including a copy of the Milepost, the most complete highway guide to Alaska and Northwestern Canada.

The Milepost

I added another ten pounds to my backpack.

We had lunch at The Baked Cafe and spent quite a bit of time wandering around the shops. We stopped at The Claim for dessert. It is a great place for desserts.

After we had enough of visiting the shops, we walked along the river. We passed by the steam engine on display.

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The town has a lot of art along the river and in the parks. You can see the influence of the large Native population (The First Peoples).

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We crossed the Yukon River to take the greenway on the other side back towards our campground.

At this point, it had gotten quite hot. The greenway passed through a wooded section which provided much appreciated shade. It was obvious that there were beavers in the area. They had taken out quite a few of the trees next to the river.

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We saw a large group kayaking upriver.

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We decided to skip visiting the fish ladder at the power plant on the edge of town. I was carrying a lot of weight and it was hot.

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We took a trail through the woods in hopes of avoiding having to walk along the road. The trail took us up through the Robert Service Yukon Territorial Campground for tents only.

Our walk continued up hill along the side of the Robert Service Way Highway. It was a very sunny and hot walk back to the campground.

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After relaxing and cooling off a little, it was time to rotate the tires. We swapped the front two tires and then the rear ones.

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The super single tires on the Fuso are about 150 pounds each. The job requires a very big torque wrench.

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After showers and a simple dinner, we went to bed. It had been a long day.

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Day 56 – Yukon, Alaska Highway to Whitehorse

Friday, June 16

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We crossed into the Yukon Territory right before we came to the end of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. It ends at the Alaska Highway.

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Considering the reputation of the Alaska Highway, it was amazing to find it just like most interstate highways.
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However, the weather was definitely not like anything we had seen before. Over a period of a few hours, we saw sun.
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Clouds.
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Rain.
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Snow.
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Snow and blue skies.
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Clouds.
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We saw several overland vehicles including an GXV one.
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We stopped in Teslin.
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To reach it, you cross over a significant bridge over the Nisutlin River and follow along the Teslin Lake.
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There is fuel, an RV friendly campground and a free dump in Teslin. We took advantage of the fuel and dump before continuing our journey towards Whitehorse.
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We decided to push on to Whitehorse. After reading over several reviews and guidebooks, it sounded like Hi Country RV Park was going to be the best option.
We were ahead of the biggest part of the tourist season, so we were hopeful about finding a campsite. As it turned out, there were lots of other people with the same idea. After spending some time with the front desk, we were given the option of a site that wasn’t really a site. It wasn’t a site. There wasn’t any way anyone except a tent could have fit in that space. By the time we got back to the front desk, a cancellation had been found. Fortunately, we were small enough to fit in that space.
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It was a great relief to have a campsite for the night. The downside of freestyle travel is that sometimes you don’t find a campsite where you want it or you wind up having very long days trying to find a campsite. Today we were lucky.
We planned to spend the next couple of days in Whitehorse.
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Day 56 – Stewart-Cassiar Hwy Continued

Friday, June 16
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Today was another great day for wildlife sightings and fantastic scenery on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.
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The Cassiar Mountains are really beautiful.
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We saw another black bear and a red fox. Like most of the wildlife we saw, there was no time to take photos of them.
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You get a great view of Boya Lake.
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Further North, there is a rest stop with information about the forest fires that devastated the area in 2010 and 2011.
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The large expanse of gray trunks are the only sign that there was once a forest along this section.
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We crossed into the Yukon.
We continued up the Stewart-Cassair Highway until it dead ended into the Alaska Highway.
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Day 55 – Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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We left the Salmon Glacier on the morning of June 15 and drove back to the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

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The 450 mile highway starts at Kitwanga in the south and the junction with the Alaska Highway to the north. It is one of the only two British Columbia roads that links central BC to the Yukon. The other is the Alaska Highway.

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The services available along the highway are limited. There is a helpful map with the services marked on it at the sign for the highway.

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There are a few communities along the road, but most of them are very tiny.

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The scenery is beautiful.

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We saw lots of animals along the way. On June 15, we saw 10 black bears along the side of the road. They were eating plants.

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We saw a mother with two older cubs. We stopped long enough to get photos, but we were careful not to get out of the vehicle or block the road.

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We also saw a moose, but didn’t get a photo of it. We heard about a wolverine, but didn’t see it, just the remains of an animal spine that it dropped when crossing the road.

We passed the occasional vehicle, but not a lot of them. We saw a German Overland vehicle stopped at a gas station.

The road is paved for the most part, but it was gravel or dirt for large sections. The road is not exactly flat. It is a real challenge to maintain the road in the severe cold temperatures up here.

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There are also lots of rivers and streams that need bridges.

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There aren’t too many places to camp, so we looked over the map to find a place to camp for the night. We found a British Columbia Forest Service Campground that was at a good distance for today.

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Sawmill Point Recreation Site BCFS has ten free campsites along a lake. There is a steep road down to the lake and campground which isn’t a problem for us. 

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We settled into a nice campsite along the lake.

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The German Overland Vehicle came in while we were eating dinner. I was able to get a quick photo of their rig, but we never saw the people inside. Sometimes that is the way it goes.

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It was a quiet night.

 

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Day 54 & 55 – From Stewart to the Salmon Glacier with a stop in Alaska

Wednesday, June 14 through Thursday, June 15, 2017

We make a detour on Stewart-Cassair Highway to visit Stewart, British Columbia, Hyder, Alaska and the Salmon Glacier in British Columbia.

This installment covers our side trip to Stewart, British Columbia to see the Salmon Glacier.

The Salmon Glacier is the world’s largest road accessible glacier and the fifth largest glacier in Canada. The photos of it looked pretty incredible, so we wanted to make a detour to see it.

Jon and I decided to take a detour down the Glacier Highway (Highway 37A) – located off the Stewart-Cassiar Highway 37 at the Meziadin Junction.

This highway is a 40 mile drive to Stewart, British Columbia. From there, we followed the Salmon Glacier Road through Hyder, Alaska to the Salmon Glacier in British Columbia.

The scenery along the Glacier Highway is really amazing. There are row after row of mountains with and without snow on top.

We stopped briefly to see the Bear Glacier.

The Bear Glacier used to block the Strohn Lake’s outlet and occasionally caused flooding. It was notable enough that it was designated a Provincial Park in 2000. But it has been in retreat and now doesn’t even reach the lake.

The Day Use area has been closed. There are no longer signs for the glacier, but there are a couple of pull-outs where you can view the glacier.

We stopped in Stewart, BC. This town is at the end of the Portland Canal and Fjorde.

It is the fourth largest fjord in the World. It is also Canada’s most northerly Ice-free port. Like many places we visited in Canada and Alaska, it has gone through a boom and bust cycle primarily associated with mining. Right now, it is in a bust. The town had definitely seen better days. There was nothing going on in town. The Information Center was already closed for the day. Most of the businesses were still closed for the season although there were a few that had just closed for the day already. We were ahead of the season a little, but we were surprised to see how little was open. The occasional rain certainly didn’t make it look any more appealing.

The weather was cool and misty with occasional sprinkles of rain. This trip has taught me that most of the places with glaciers have a lot of snow in the winter and rain in the summer. This was true for Stewart, too.

We stopped briefly before driving to the Salmon Glacier. We had hoped to find out more information about the road and conditions. We did actually have a little cell and data signal in Stewart, so I took advantage of it to download the Stewart Salmon Glacier Travel Guide.

Stewart Salmon Glacier Travel Guide

To reach the Salmon Glacier, you have to cross into Alaska. There is no US Customs at the border, but Canada does have a manned border crossing when returning from the Salmon Glacier to Stewart.

Once in Alaska, you reach the town of Hyder, the friendliest ghost town.

It is even smaller and less notable than Stewart. Hyder is famous for its bars.

Just past Hyder is a Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area. During salmon season, this is a great place to view bears. At this time, not as good. Plus it was sprinkling.

As the road continued, we crossed back into Canada. We surprised a hoary marmot.

We kept getting tantalizing views of the glacier when we would go around a curve.

Since it was getting rather late and visibility was dropping, we started looking for a place to camp for the night. 

We passed by several nice spots, but most of them already had someone occupying the space. 

We finally came to a nice wide spot with a view of the glacier.

Considering the time, we thought this would be a good place to stop for the night. We couldn’t go any further on the road because only a small path had been plowed through the snow. We certainly wouldn’t fit. A small car might find it passable.

It was cold and windy with a lot of fog, mist and drizzling rain.

The view was pretty amazing. We hoped to see it more clearly in the morning.

In the morning, we were able to see the Salmon Glacier. It turns out that we were camped on the overlook.

It was amazing to be able to look down on it.

It was time to continue our journey.

We didn’t stop to take a lot of photos on the way back down.

There aren’t that many places where the road is wide enough for vehicles to park while there was still so much snow on the road.

But we did stop to see the blue pool.

We had to stop for Canada customs on our way back into Stewart. It all went smoothly.

We stopped at the Visitor Center in Stewart. It wasn’t particularly helpful.

We saw a number of wild animals along the road to and from Salmon Glacier. Unfortunately, we didn’t get photos of any of them today. We saw wild black bears on Glacier Highway. He did what they are supposed to do and moved away quickly into the brush along the side of the road. We saw a moose and Jon spotted a porcupine along the side of the road.

We stopped at the Bear Glacier for a couple more photos.

We did see another black bear along the side of the road.

More about our travels down the Stewart-Cassair Highway in the next post.

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Day 54 – Yellowhead Highway to Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) to the start of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway (Highway 37) at Kitwanga.

The scenery along the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) is gorgeous. You can see the Seven Sisters mountain peaks and their glaciers.

As you drive along, you get different views of the mountains.

We stopped in Smithers for brunch. The town has a small shopping district with several bakeries. We had the individual quiches from Schimmels Bakery and Cafe.

We stopped to view the Moricetown Canyon. It is a point where the Buckley River is forced through a small opening in the rocks. The force of the water going through the gap is thundering.

It is amazing to think that salmon swim up it.

We also took a slight detour to see the Hagwilget Suspension Bridge near Hazelton.

The traffic across the bridge was down to one lane while some maintenance was being performed.
We stopped before the bridge to check things out from the scenic overlook. There were views of the Seven Sisters.

I walked about halfway across the bridge.

The view of the river from the bridge wasn’t that interesting, but I did have a good view of Jon.

Our next stop was at Kitwanga where we would start up along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. The Stewart-Cassiar Highway is 450 miles from Kitwanga to the Alaska Highway. There was a convenient gas station there, so we filled up with diesel.

The services available along the highway are limited. There is a helpful map with the services marked on it at the sign for the highway.

There are a few communities along the road, but most of them are very tiny.

We bought enough fuel and had enough supplies that we could travel the whole distance without having to rely on a specific gas station. Because the camper has a bathroom and kitchen, we don’t really have to worry about finding a place to camp.

After we took the required photos, we started our journey north. There are a couple of side trips off the highway and we were planning to take the 37A to Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK.

I’m continuing that part of the trip in the next post.

Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | 2 Comments

Day 53 – Prince George and Sunset Lake 

Yellowhead Highway – Central British Columbia 

Tuesday, June 13

It looked like Prince George was probably our last big chance for shopping for a long while, so we stopped. Prince George is a large town and seems like it functions as a shopping destination for much of the surrounding area.

We shopped at a Wal-Mart. So far, the Wal-Marts in Canada have been pretty disappointing. The shelves are often half empty and the prices aren’t nearly as low as usual. Many of them do allow overnight parking in their parking lots.

We found a private liquor store and bought some Canadian wine and beer.

We stopped at a Canadian Tire shop. Imagine a cross between an automotive store, a tractor/farm supply, a sporting goods shop, and a Wal-Mart. They have a little bit of everything.

Canadian Tire

2017 is the 150th birthday of Canada. Most stores have big displays of Canada merchandise near their entrance. Since we assume that we will still be in Canada on July 1st (Canada Day), we decided to get into the spirit of the event. We bought shirts, a pot holder, a can koozie, flip flops and several other small items.

After this, we headed west on the Yellowhead Highway (Canada highway 16). Generally speaking, there are only two highways leading from central British Columbia to the North. The Stewart-Cassiar on the western side of BC and the Alaska Highway along the eastern part of BC.

We had a Road Atlas, but it seemed like the maps of Northern British Columbia and the Yukon must be woefully lacking in detail. The reality is that there just aren’t that many highways. It is a mighty big area with a relatively small population.

After looking over the maps, we decided to take the western route to the Yukon and return along the Alaska Highway.

We saw our first wild moose.

Female cow moose

We decided to try another BC Forest Service campground. We found one that was a little bigger this time. Sunset Lake was near Topley. It had eight campsites and a day use area. 

Sunset Lake BCFS Campground

The campground had a mix of campsites. There were several right next to the boat launch. After our experience with the teenagers, we chose one that was screened from other campsites by trees and brush.

Jon had a chance to try out one of the Canadian beers and the Canada can koozie.

The lake was really beautiful. We went for a walk around recreational areas.

It was nice to have a chance to hang out and enjoy the weather, scenery and peace and quiet of this place.

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