Our Alaska Trip Part IV En Route to Canyon Hot Springs

This entry is part 4 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 13, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 12 Comments

This is the fourth in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

Saturday’s leg of the trip north to “Seward’s Folly” was another eight hours of being swaddled in beauty.  The entire route from Oliver to Canyon Hot Springs borders lakes, including Lake Kalamalaka, “The Lake of Many Colors.”  Above us for most of the way were 8,000-foot snow-capped mountains, and along the road were a myriad of different colors of green, in an endless variety of textures.

Lake Kalamalaka, “The Lake of Many Colors.”

Lake Kalamalaka, “The Lake of Many Colors.”

Did we enjoy the ride?  You bet-cha!  Except for a nightmare of trailer maneuvering driving around the City of Vernon, British Columbia, when we werer trying to find a sporting goods store with someone competent enough to sell me the right rod and reel for future attempts at landing salmon.  More on that in a later chapter.

Monique and I traveled alone today, playing leapfrog with many other members of the caravan, as we each chose different stops on the route.  We could all go where we wanted as long as we arrived at the night’s campground by 4:30 p.m.

Members of the group reported seeing eagles landing in their nest, deer, a bear next to the highway, and not-too-wild life at attractions en route.

Beautiful Scenes Along the Road

Beautiful Scenes Along the Road

I’ll take this opportunity to respond to a few questions.  First of all, our own question before signing up:  Did we really want to be part of a group for 58 days? Our answer is that there is no one in the caravan with whom we wouldn’t enjoy having dinner.  It’s a fun-loving, adventurous group.  We consider ourselves lucky to be on this trip.

How do we communicate on the road? Each night Ken Adams, our Wagonmaster, previews the next day’s trip, supplemented by our tailgunner, Spence Schaaf’s input, so we hit the road with a good idea of what to do and how to get there.  We each have a CB radio to let Spence’s wife Madi know that we are leaving.  Throughout the day, we can, but don’t have to let Spence know of delays on the road, but we try to tell him if we will be in camp late.  In these mountains and curvy roads, the CB transmission rarely works, so we do the best we can.

We all have cellphones, but Monique and I have ours turned off.  As we understand it, every time it searches for the network, it runs up the bill.  We called AT&T, our provider, and paid for a reduced per-minute rate when we use the phone in Canada, but it’s still expensive since we are paying a roaming charge.  Several other members of the crew I talked with aren’t sure what their arrangement is.

In addition, Monique and I bought 100 minutes per month of air time through OnStar in our truck.  It apparently picks up signals from any cell tower around, not from a satellite as I was expecting.  There are no additional fees for calls in Canada.  And once we get into Alaska, we’re back on our regular plan, same as in the lower 48.

WiFi is available most places:  however, my connection last night faded away, so this is being posted 12 hours later.

This is the view from the back of our trailer in Canyon Hot Springs

This is the view from the back of our trailer in Canyon Hot Springs

Should you make the trip on your own or with a group? We’re enjoying the experience, but I suggest that you keep asking others about their trip to Alaska and continue reading about our experiences.

Can you get fuel and services in Canada and Alaska? From what we hear, a drop in tourism has taken a toll on service stations along the way, but we don’t expect to have any real problems filling up or getting repairs.

Bad roads destroy RVs. Many of the people we talked with had some kind of damage, usually nothing more than a rock in the windshield, but nobody had any real, lasting problems.  There are bad roads and hazards, but most of the roads are fine in spring and summer. [More on this as the trip proceeds]

And as for specific questions about things we’ve seen, in order to keep these blogs to a minimum, I leave out much of the detail.  You are invited to search the web for more information.

And, as I intimated in the previous article, we spend lots of hours on the road, then have a travel briefing followed by a social get-together.  That doesn’t leave lots of time for writing and processing photos, but I appreciate the opportunity to share the trip with people of like minds.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Comments

12 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip En Route to Canyon Hot Springs Part IV”

▪.  Shaine on June 13th, 2010 4:18 pm  
Its seems that we’re just a few days ahead of you. But we turned east at Golden, not north…

▪.  Din Milem on June 13th, 2010 4:44 pm  
Am enjoying your trip with you. Actually I’m reliving the trip we took two years ago. We were three small B plus RVs wandering with no real time restraint or schedule. I think a caravan is great for most folks but would have never worked for us.

▪.  Jane on June 13th, 2010 5:15 pm  
Enjoy hearing all your adventures on your trip to Alaska…Look forward everyday to reading your blog…We are planning a caravan trip to Alaska next year, but not sure which company to use…am researching them all…we travel 4 months a year in our RV…Do you unhook your truck for your side trips and then meet back at the campsite at 4:30PM? Have fun!!! Keep writing!!! We will probably do a 34 or 45-day trip…we have a long way to travel just to get to Dawson Creek…

▪.  Steve & Mary Margaret on June 13th, 2010 6:07 pm  
Thank you for the time you take posting your pictures and travels. I look forward every evening reading your adventures. Good Luck with the Salmon

▪.  Jim & Glenna Penny on June 13th, 2010 6:54 pm  
My wife and I are new to all of this but we plan on Alaska next summer. We very much appreciate your posts and look forward every day to read what you have to say. Again, thank-you for your efforts.

▪.  Dave in MN on June 13th, 2010 7:10 pm  
Appreciate the pics as we may never make the trip but enjoy your points of interest and above all keep the pics coming. We love hearing the day-by-day trip log.

▪.  Ronald Schneider on June 14th, 2010 5:18 am  
Thanks for writing, look forward to the next one every day. Been wanting to make the same trip for years maybe this will get us going, Thank you again

▪.  Ken on June 14th, 2010 9:33 am  
We are following your trip with envy. We would like to go next year. Can you send us some info such as itinerary, and with what caravan you are traveling with?
Thanks,
Ken

▪.  Bill on June 15th, 2010 4:00 pm  
This is a trip I wouldn’t mind taking some day. I would be bringing my dog with me since we are joined at the hip. Do you know anything about what is required to enter Canada with your pet and then to enter the United States again and return home with your buddy?

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on June 20th, 2010 3:50 pm  
Good luck with OnStar. Last summer we weren’t able to connect in Canada very often after we reached the Alaska Highway. In Alaska, we seldom had coverage. The satellites just don’t reach that far north. In the mountainous areas, in the southern parts of Canada, OnStar was hit-or-miss. We really didn’t have reliable coverage until we got back to the lower 48. We ended up with a lot of unused minutes.

 On our trip, we had no problem with fuel, but once when I needed a quart of oil, there was none to be found for 200 miles. So you might want to carry some with you or check your oil levels at stops that do have oil. One or two of the out-of-the-way gas stations only accept cash, so be prepared for that.

Our Alaska Trip Part IX Jumping to Conclusions

This entry is part 10 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 20, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 18 Comments

This is the ninth in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

“In every life there will be a bump in the road.” — Anonymous  Our bump in the road came 149.2 miles north of our last campground in Prince George, British Columbia.  And let this be a warning to all who travel these roads, when you see the three triangles on a yellow road sign, take it seriously.

Today we became acquainted with “frost heaves.”  It turns out it doesn’t have to be cold when you hit one; they are a bump or series of bumps in the asphalt caused by frost.  And when we hit one today, it probably sent our 10,000-pound trailer airborne.  The result was more than four hours of work getting red wine stains and balsamic vinegar out of the carpet and putting practically everything in the rear of the trailer back in place.  It’s typically the rear of the trailer that takes the brunt of these things.  This one snuck up on us – it won’t happen again (I hope), but it is impossible to control.  [We learned later that we had experienced a bump.  Frost heaves didn’t start until a few days later.]

On the pleasant side of the day’s travels, we drove along the Crooked River for miles and

Stellar’s Jays Love Bijoux Falls

Stellar’s Jays Love Bijoux Falls

saw lake after lake all glistening in the perfect sunny weather.  And speaking of glistening, we stopped briefly at Bijoux Falls, probably named that because “bijoux” translates as “jewels,” and the water sparkles as it careens down the mountainside.

The scenery changed from pastoral to mountainous as we once again found the Rocky Mountains.  At this point in the chain, the mountains are mostly green with trees and vegetation, not as steep and capped by very little snow.  There was enough variety, however, to keep the ride interesting.

We're Back in the Rocky Mountains

We’re Back in the Rocky Mountains

A couple of touring notes. As we entered the town of Chetwynd, we were treated to a mile-

A Buffalo Fighter -- Chainsaw Artwork in Chetwin

A Buffalo Fighter — Chainsaw Artwork in Chetwynd

long display along Hwy. 97 of incredible statuary, the work of chainsaw artists.  If you’ve seen chainsaw figures, you probably remember them as sortta crude and often playful.  These statues are truly works of art.

And the other note, in Prince George is the Exploration Place, a museum with something to interest just about everyone.  What caught and held our attention was a little movie room.  I selected the sixth film first.  It is called, “The Log Rollers Waltz.”  What a kick!

So we went up the list of six short films to “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” and then “The Cat Came Back” and on to the next three.   It was 37 minutes of delightful Canadian animated entertainment, featuring the delightful poetry of Robert Service.

Two Memories from the Exploration Place: Freckles the Leopard Gecko and a scene from "The Cremation of Sam McGee"

Two Memories from the Exploration Place: Freckles the Leopard Gecko and a scene from “The Cremation of Sam McGee”

Now, a few Alaska travel notes:

If you see a sign for bumps, slow down.  I mentioned that before, but it’s serious.

A requirement of our caravan is having a CB radio so we can communicate with the staff.  We bought a very good Cobra, which, unfortunately has lots of dials and switches.  I think for a trip like this, simple is better. With the help of Tailgunner Spence last night we finally got it adjusted, while everyone else had probably just turned theirs on and talked.

If you’re going to be in these parts in late summer, we hear that you’d better have reservations if you’re going to stay in private campgrounds.  They are already crowded and will get worse.

Our XM radio reception is getting interrupted more often as we head north, which I attribute to the position of the satellite over the horizon.  Mountains and trees seem to cause more interference.

And to end on a learning-curve note, yesterday we went into a supermarket.  Very impressive.  I walked up to the meat counter and asked for a half-pound of rare roast beef.  The young man behind the counter just stared at me blankly.  Well, I know that as a U.S. citizen, I’m supposed to ask the same question louder so he understands me, but I didn’t do that … luckily.  He turned to his co-worked and asked, “How much is a half-pound?”  She said something like 250 grams.  Oh.

But there’s more.  We had parked our truck in a section of the supermarket’s parking lot across a traffic lane.  The shopping cart cost us 25 cents, returnable when you take the cart back.  So we just went merrily along toward our truck.  When we got to that traffic lane, a brake clicked into place so we couldn’t move the cart forward or backward.  A passing shopper yelled from his car to let us know that we couldn’t take the cart out of the grocery’s parking lot.

And finally, back to the map issue.  It’s been done for us.  Go to http://www.adventurecaravans.com/alaska/avc_alaska_map.asp?TCC=58AK2011870.   That is the ultimate source.

Busy day Sunday in Dawson Creek, B.C.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road

Comments

18 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Part IX Frost Heaves”

▪.  Wayne Cunningham on June 20th, 2010 4:38 pm  
You might want to watch for subtle markers like a coffee can, small flag, etc. They could all be warning signs. It is better to slow down and be wrong than to blow it off and learn how to fly.
Been there, done that!
Love following your trip. Be safe and enjoy!

▪.  Allen on June 20th, 2010 4:44 pm  
The Canadians are rapidly going to the metric system. Just have to get used to it ourselves. That shopping cart brake sounds like a great idea – probably saves them from chasing carts all over town like they do here in Connecticut.
Watch for frost and heat heaves in all areas. We get the heat heaves during very hot weather.
You found the one problem that Sirius radio has with tunnels and trees, if you can’t see the satellite, you can’t get the program.
Otherwise, enjoy the travel.

▪.  Lynda Begg on June 20th, 2010 4:56 pm  
We too, had the grocery cart experience in Morgan Hill, California. Parked our rig in the Lowe’s parking lot where our 50 feet fit, only to have to swap carts to a drug store cart when the Safeway cart brake came on. I understand, but Safeway did not have RV parking!!!

▪.  Jere on June 20th, 2010 5:00 pm  
Your pictures of the beautiful countryside brings to mind Romans 1: 20 “…since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Deity” and for that beauty we must give thanks and glorify Him. Keep the pictures coming. 

[He looked down on us smiling, as you will learn in future editions.]

▪.  Chris Clarke on June 20th, 2010 5:47 pm  
The map of the tour looks like a good idea with some interesting descriptions. Of course you folks went north up the centre of Washington and followed the Okanagan route to get to Prince George. The map strays a bit because Dawson Creek is actually in BC, just west of the Alberta BC border.
About the metric system, we converted to the metric system in 1976 but some clueless clot chose kilopascals as the unit of pressure!! What the heck is a kilopascal (kpa)? So if you want to put air in your tires and the meter is in metric it’s a pain. Even OnStar reports my tire pressure in kpa.
Here’s a web page that might help you:
http://www.csgnetwork.com/presskpapsicvt.html
My rig carries 80 psi in the rear tires which is as near as “damn it” is to swearing as 550 kpa. If it’s any consolation, I worked in the oil and gas industry here for 40 years and kilopascals still don’t register with me. see my previous comment re the lost grey matter.
Take care folks and “stay between the rhubarb”.

▪.  Full Timer Normie on June 20th, 2010 5:52 pm  
You are having a great trip, notwithstanding the ‘bumps’ in the road. We had the same rear of the trailer problem traveling across Louisiana on I-10…actually broke all my Corning Ware…which was packed between layers of paper towels…so it doesn’t take much to bounce that rear end. Sorry you had the experience…even sorrier for the loss of the red wine…LOL
Your pix are great, your commentary is spot on…makes us feel like we are right there with you…Thanks for the work you are putting into this.

▪.  Mike on June 20th, 2010 6:43 pm  
A minor problem with you map, minor if you live in Washington because you just annexed northern Idaho and a good portion on western Montana.

▪.  RolandG on June 20th, 2010 7:17 pm  
Enjoying your travels. We did the trip by other means 2 years ago. Wait till you get to big Chicken Alaska and North Pole Alaska. BTW, Dawson City is in the Yukon Territory. Safe travels!

▪.  GaryM on June 20th, 2010 8:04 pm  
You’re lucky. I met a guy several years ago who said he had to replace both axles and all his tires and rims; all from hitting a frost heave to fast. Sounds like your having a good trip so far. Please keep the articles coming.

▪.  Stan C. on June 20th, 2010 10:02 pm  
Good stories. Travelled to Alaska last year, spent 45 days & intend on going back. Feels like we are travelling together. We also towed a 5th wh., luckily, nothing major happened, after the first frost heave, I had my foot ready for the brakes to slow down; & that is the trick, you are retired, so slow down & enjoy the beauty that surrounds you, there is a lot of it wherever you go.

▪.  George on June 20th, 2010 10:05 pm  
Roland mentions Chicken, Alaska. A true story is how it got its name: The locals wanted to name it Ptarmigan but there was not a consensus on how to spell Ptarmigan so Chicken was selected instead.

▪.  Garry Scott on June 21st, 2010 8:54 am  
Well done, map is great, now we can follow you with great interest thanks Regards Garry (UK)