August 12, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 13 Comments
This is the 31st article in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska
NOTE: We’re staying in remote areas of British Columbia – plenty of bears but internet opportunities are elusive.
Time to reply to comments from recent blogs,
Let’s start out with an imperative: There is too much to see and do and too many miles of highway between disparate communities to make a two-week tour worth the effort.
Our trip was to Alaska, but it’s important to understand that the journey getting there and visiting different towns and attractions is as memorable as the places. Memories of the abundant fireweed are just as vivid as the puffin sightings and seeing Mount McKinley under the sun (we can’t say enough about the fireweed and other wildflowers in June and July) and teal blue lakes along the highways. Riding alongside the Canadian Rockies was as breathtaking as seeing a bit of the gorgeous mountains of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. And if you don’t see the film in the Dawson Creek Visitors Center or spend time in the Native Heritage Cultural Center in Anchorage, you’re only seeing the surface of these incredible North American wonders.
We know that our lifestyle as full-time RVers gives us a skewed perspective, but we strongly recommend visiting when you can spend at least two months in the North. From the sampler we got as members of a caravan, we know we want to come back to color in the spaces between the lines.
Before responding to your comments, we’d like to say thanks for joining us on this fabulous adventure via blog.rv.net. Writing this at midnight or 5 a.m. or while others in the caravan were partying has been gratifying, knowing that someone was interested in reading it. It isn’t meant to be a travel blog, but rather a supplement to the materials you have available when traveling to “The Last Frontier.” We love so many places in the Lower 48; it’s just that this vast area is definitely different. There’s so much to know, even for experienced RVers, including those who have been up there in the past.
Now to respond to some of your comments.
1 – Thanks fer pointing out that fir and fur are not synonyms. In our ferther articles we look ferward to doing better … did I mention ‘midnight” and “5 a.m.”?
2 — We are in British Columbia, planning to stay until the end of August. As we write this, we are in Tyhee Provincial Park, which is like camping in an aviary featuring an interesting variety of very chirpy birds. When we arrived, we immediately saw a huge 7-foot-tall black bear — we’ve seen him twice since then competing with us to harvest tasty Saskatoon berries.
3 — We came up through Oliver, above eastern Washington State in June, wandered eastward into Alberta, and then headed for Whitehorse. On our way back down, we are staying on the west side of British Columbia, planning to be in Tacoma in early September.
4 — Asked about Prince Rupert, I would describe it as a cruise ship port-of-call lacking enough dockings to support the tourist-section businesses. It’s an interesting town, but it seems to be missing the energy it prepared for when expecting more ocean liners. We didn’t get a chance to visit what is touted as a good museum in town. The drive to Prince Rupert along the Skeena River is beautiful, although many miles of similar vistas. We heard that the tour of the cannery in neighboring Prince Edward is interesting, but we tackled that narrow road after 5 p.m. Saturday, so it was closed.
5 — Terrace appears to be a thriving town with big chain stores (including Wal-Mart and the multi-faceted Canadian Tire) plus supermarkets and American-born fast food outlets. We only stopped there for lunch and didn’t look any further.
6 — The Towns of Stewart, B.C., and Hyder, AK, are like two sisters from different parents: quaint, rustic, off the beaten path, very representative of frontier communities. In response to the question about the bears feeding on salmon nearby on Fish Creek, we went by three times but missed the excitement of seeing the star attractions who don’t have a set schedule. The salmons’ schedule should be more dependable, but we were told they were running late, stalled at upstream locations. Others in our group saw several bears, including Old Monica, a grizzly in her dotage, who couldn’t catch any of the spawning salmon, so she settled for the fish whose life-cycle ended with a leap onto the banks, where they awaited the scavengers to remove their corpses.
Our questions to you: Did you go beyond the viewing platform to see the glaciers and other magnificent scenery up the rocky road? We went about 23 more miles to
A flow of ice manages to squeeze its way from a abandoned tunnel sealed with doors of steel
Salmon Glacier and beyond taking in both ends of the abandoned tunnel, where we saw glacial ice pushing against the steel barricaded door. And did you take the walking tour to Dyea, the jumping off point for the Chllkoot Trail during Gold Rush Days? It’s an important, fascinating episode in the epic Gold Rush story.
7 — We think “musk-oxen” should fall into a category of their own. We remember being told at Large Animal Research Station in Fairbanks they are in the sheep family, but the comment about them being in the cow/ox/bison family is probably right. See “Fact” under Definitions Part XXIX-A.
8 — To Stan, who mentioned that central Canada is rather boring, we haven’t been there yet, but since it’s the northern extreme of the U.S. Great Plains, your assessment is probably valid. Add to that, we talked to a family from eastern Alberta in line to be escorted behind a pilot truck through the Highway 37 forest fires, who said they were in B.C. because it is boring back home.
9 — For those who are looking for early articles in this series and earlier submissions on other topics, all our past blogs should be accessible on this site.
10 – To the question, “Will my RV hold up to the poor road conditions?” We have seen lots of prehistoric and homemade rigs of all kinds of the road. We don’t know how some of them made it to the U.S./Canada border, but they seem to endure. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
A quick story – When we first started RVing on August 11, 2006, (Happy Anniversary to us), one of our first stops was in a state campground in Cedar City, Utah. I was still churning from all my years of working, so staying in one place with little to do was a foreign concept to me. When we told the camp host we had to go, he said in a slow, deep drawl, “Wellll, whaaa-cha hurrree?” That has been my credo every since. My point: On the roads to and into Alaska, you might ask yourself that often as you slow down in permafrost and construction zones.
11 and 11-A — And finally, to Gary, who doesn’t like the idea of caravan schedules and doesn’t want more people in Washington State. As for schedules, that is a prejudice that we share, but it is just one of the factors to consider when deciding on a caravan. Don’t let your old “I’m set in my ways” attitude cloud your ability to make a decision.
And from what we’ve seen of Washington State, there’s still plenty of room for visitors, and thankfully there is a spot for our daughter to attend college there. What if the Yukon or Alaskan natives put up signs at the border, “Lower 48ers, Turn Back Now”? You’d wish there was room for you, too.
Believe it or not, we still have more information to impart about Our Alaska Trip.
From the “Never-Bored RVers.” We’ll see you on down the road.
13 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part XXXI Since You Asked”
▪. Barbara on August 12th, 2010 4:30 pm
While you are in western Washington, if you have time to get together with other RVers, send us a note a email@example.com. We are currently in our condo in Mill Creek WA, north of Seattle, but spend most of our time traveling in our 37′ Newmar Dutch Star.
▪. Margaret on August 12th, 2010 5:25 pm
Nothing boring about crossing the central plains of Canada. Loved every moment, Also another favorite area was Fort Macleod, AB. Happy Trails.
▪. Old Gray on August 12th, 2010 6:21 pm
When we’re travelling (Canadian spelling!), we always seem to enjoy every part of both countries – mountains, plains, woodlands, and seashores. Yes, some of the flatlands are a bit tedious, as are long stretches of marshland – but every now and then we come upon a sight that impresses, amuses, or fascinates us. We have had some tedious moments in the mountains, too, tiring after hours of twisting and turning. But we still love it! What great countries we live in!
▪. Chris Clarke on August 12th, 2010 6:52 pm
If you’re in the Tyhee Provincial Park you are in one of the best areas to fish for steelhead that there is. Granted, the optimum time for the “summer run” is mid-September to mid-October (and I’ll be up there again this year), but the Bulkley River is a great place to at least wet your line. The only drawback may be the outrageous prices that BC charge for licenses.
Here in Alberta I have the luxury of not having to buy a license as I am now over 65, but when I go steelheading in BC it will cost me over $115 for the license and steelhead tag ($140 for you who they classify as a “non-resident alien”). Then it costs another $20 per day for the Bulkley. However, the $20 per day (Classified Waters #2) is only in effect from September 1 through October 31. But if you want to fish for trout for only a day it would cost you (or me) $20; or for an 8-day license it would be $50 .
BC is trout country and you will pass by some beautiful trout streams as you travel through the province. I hope that you get a chance to wet a line and enjoy the ambience.
I know it’s an old saw, but “a bad day fishing is still better than a good day’s work”.
PS: I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I’ve made a point of looking for it as soon as my email box opens. Safe journey on your way home.
▪. Gary on August 12th, 2010 6:58 pm
WOW !! You do read the response letters. How flattering to know that. Yeah, I would like to keep some open space around everyone, but it seems that the Sierra Club feels they know the best for everyone. I only chose them as they are the ones in the news. There are a lot of “tree huggers” that do so much good and some that do so much harm. I feel the open lands should be left open. Certain restrictions are required. My wife and I, just today, went into the backwoods and found such a mess with trash it really hurts. Bottles, cans, busted boats, paper and … well, you get the idea. Growing up there was NO MESS. Everything was clean and picked up. Population and stupidity. No excuse. As was said ” you can’t fix stupid” Thanks for the trip. Loved it all!!
▪. Bill Murray on August 12th, 2010 7:08 pm
We have enjoyed your descriptions of your trip. As an Alaskan RVer I welcome all who want to make the effort to explore our state. We just completed a quick trip up from Seattle where we picked up our new Gulfstream. We did not have as much time but we have been over the “trail” several times. Nonetheless, we enjoy the experience each time.
▪. William Robinson, Jr. on August 12th, 2010 7:45 pm
I started out saying, “ahh, I’ll never go to Alaska, so who cares.” Well, I ended up caring!! Great series, kinda sad it’s over. Well done. Robbie
▪. Terrie Stamey on August 13th, 2010 9:29 am
I echo the statement from Robbie. Well Done! I have followed along and just loved every minute of your trip. I might never get the chance to go so I went with you. We have a Holiday Rambler Endeavor 08 and the farthest we have gone so far is Yellowstone National Park, where we worked for five months last year at the general store at Lake Yellowstone. What an experience! Thanks again for another wonderful experience! Terrie
▪. D. Ellis on August 13th, 2010 9:40 am
I have really enjoyed following your adventure. It would be interesting (at least to me) to learn more about the RV Parks you used along the way. Thanks.
▪. wayne coggins on August 13th, 2010 4:41 pm
I`ve enjoyed all your post. looking to making the trip up to Alaska and Canada someday.
▪. Dennis Rudolph on August 13th, 2010 10:34 pm
Have enjoyed reading about your trip. As someone who has lived 35 years in one of the towns along your trip and camped extensively in central BC, it seems to me the this website would be a good place to help others plan such a trip. I could have recommended a few stops in this area that your research may not have found. For instance, you could have detoured slightly to Tumbler Ridge and I think you would have been delighted by this unique ‘instant town’. The surrounding area has beautiful scenery, dinosaur traces, two Provincial Parks, one of them at a breathtaking falls, etc. You could have then continued on north to Dawson Creek.
With readers along your planned route, your trip could have been even more amazing. BTW, when my wife and I toured Prince Rupert 25 years ago, the museum had its own archeologist who gave tours in the summer months on the native water taxi school bus all around the surrounding islands and taught us all about the history of the native peoples of the area. Fascinating and inexpensive. Don’t know if they still do that, but a reader in PR might.