Posts Tagged With: Canada

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.
Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.
Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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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.

Categories: Spring/Summer 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 51 – Hope, Kamloops and almost Cache Creek

June 11, 2017

We left in the mid-morning after saying bye to the puppies.

It was very overcast with low-lying clouds.

The scenery was beautiful as we followed Highway 7 along the Fraser River.

We stopped at Hope to pick up some basic maps, etc. at their Tourist Information Center which was actually open on a Sunday.

We wanted to load up on some more supplies before traveling North. We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of groceries and similar items. After looking at a map, we drove east along the Coquihalla Highway (Canada 5) to Kamloops, a fairly large city in the general direction we wanted to go.
The mountain scenery was impressive.

This is an area that was shaped by glaciers during the Ice ages. It leads to u-shaped valleys surrounded by very steep mountain walls and peaks.

It was misty with low clouds. This area gets an enormous amount of snow in the winter. There were still some snowy areas.

It was easy to imagine why there were so many avalanche warning signs.

The area around Kamloops was quite different from the mountain range.

It is a big city. We filled up our propane tanks and bought more groceries.

We drove West on Canada Highway 1 towards Cache Creek. The terrain along this route was quite different.

The hills were low and softly rounded. The plants were really different, too. There were a lot less trees.

We decided to stay at the Brookside Campsite RV Park. It is pretty close to Cashe Creek, where we will be picking up the Cariboo Highway (Highway 97).

Part of the reason for staying at this campground is because it includes free WiFi. It also has a laundry. We plan on using that on the morning.

Our plan with Verizon has unlimited calls and texts in Canada. We are also allowed 500 Megabytes of data per day. Our cell and data signal has been very limited away from the towns. We assume that trend will only increase as we continue north.

We did find it odd that the campground isn’t along a brook.

The campground was moderately full. We walked around talking with folks. We settled in for a quiet night. It had been a long day with a lot of time on the road.

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