Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dawson Creek, BC - Mile "0" of the Alaskan Highway

We are now in Dawson Creek, BC. First thing we did was to find the Mile "0" sign that is the start of the Alaskan Highway. There are two such signs, one near the Visitor's Center and another one in the center of their main street in town. We stopped in at the Visitor's Center to get information and ask about the two signs. We were told that the one down town is the true one that was moved to its current downtown location because cars kept hitting it in the round-about. So, across the street from the round-about by the Visitor's Center, they erected a larger sign, more conducive to tourist photos at the start of Mile "0." We are showing you both signs below. (The RV in the picture is parked at the sign near the Visitor's Center.) (Make sure you always scroll below for larger pictures that we add to this Blog, and click on the tracking dots on the Map for more information about where we are at.)

After finding the Subway and eating our lunch, we headed out to the RV Park located within walking distance of the small town. Although it is sunny out, it is extremely windy. So windy, that it almost takes both of us to open the door of the RV as the wind is forcing it shut.

Finally, fuel prices for diesel are less than the prices for regular gasoline. We filled up our fuel tank in town and paid $.85 a liter (that converts to $3.20 per gallon for diesel), while regular gasoline (after the conversion) is $4.20 per gallon.

One other conversion we have to constantly make is the speed limit for miles per hour and the number of miles to our next destination. That one is easy. If the speed limit is 100 kilometers (km), you multiply that number by 6 and drop the last number. That gets you to 60 miles per hour. If the number of miles to our next destination is 320 km, you multiply that number by 6 and drop the last digit. (320x6=1,920 or 192 miles). Keeps us on our toes!

We are going to relax here for the weekend and start up the Alaskan Highway on Monday. The tour books tell us that we will not see much change in the scenery until we get about 400 miles from here.

It is interesting to meet the people along the way. While getting our fuel today, Jerry talked to the couple next to us (also RVers) who told him that they, too, were making the trip up the Alaskan Highway -- and, get this -- it will be their 31st trip in the last 40 years!

Until next time -- stay safe, healthy and enjoy the life you love!

Jerry and Mary

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chetwynd, British Columbia

Hi Everyone,

We are staying here in Chetwynd, BC (60 miles from Dawson Creek) for two nights. Dorothy and Dave have moved on to spend the night at Tumbler Ridge. We are to meet them later this weekend in Dawson Creek.

Our trip here took most of the day yesterday. On the way, we saw 7 bears (one mama bear and her two cubs) and a large moose by the side of the road. I had my camera ready the whole time, but didn't get even one picture. Instead, Jerry grabbed his Nikon 200D and, without looking through the view finder while driving the RV, was able to capture three shots of one of the bears that we saw. But, after looking at the pictures he took, he erased them. Our goal is to get a really good picture of a bear and put it on this site.

Chetwynd is known for its wood carving artistry. They have an annual festival in the middle of June. See picture of the town's welcome display below.

Today, the four of us took a side trip to the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. The Bennitt Dam is one of the largest-earth filled hydro-electric dams in the world. The dam's embankment stretches 1.25 miles across the top edge and is nearly 600 feet tall. See the small white patch at the bottom of the picture? Those are cars -- gives you some perspective of how large this dam is. We were able to take a trip down into the tunnel underneath the dam where we learned more about this impressive man-made structure that utilizes natural rock to hold back the water.

Next stop: Mile Zero of the Alaskan Highway!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Banff and Jasper Provincial Parks in Alberta, Canada

Well -- it's been one week without any internet!! Luckily for us we are at an RV park in Prince George, British Columbia tonight where we have free wi-fi. We each had to catch up with a week of emails. And, before we leave tomorrow for Mile One of the Alaskan Highway in Dawson Creek, we are trying also to update this blog. Since we are already too far north, we have lost out DirecTV and our XM Satellite radio is about to disappear, too, in the next few miles.

But, the peace and quiet -- and the beautiful views from mountains with snow, valleys, lots of trees, water falls, pristine lakes, perfect climate in the Banff and Jasper Provincial Parks -- is priceless and definitely worth giving up the internet.

Banff, Alberta was everything we could have asked for and more. Stunning scenery, temperature in the 50s and 60sF (they use Centigrade here), and Dorothy (my sister from Minnesota) and her husband, David, joined us on May 22. We will be making this trip with them. Here you see Jerry grilling our first meal together after they arrived.
Dorothy and I spent the next day walking the town and visiting all the wonderful shops in Banff. Later that evening, we all decided to go out to eat at a local Italian restaurant. We spent two days in Banff before moving on to Lake Louise.

Lake Louise was somewhat disappointing to Dorothy and Dave who had seen it twenty years earlier. They remembered the clear turquoise water. Instead, Lake Louise was still somewhat frozen over. Jerry and I were impressed with it, though.

We spent Sunday night (May 24) in a Lake Louise. We were being warned about having to share the parks bears, moose and elk. Even so, Jerry and I decided to bike on the bike path for a bit. We also enjoyed ourselves just sitting by the running river reading our books. (See Jerry with his Cambria Coffee Roasting Company mocha and Chanti.) By the way, we travel with roasted whole beans from the Cambria Coffee Roasting Company which we grind each morning -- the best coffee anywhere!

We also saw the Athabasca Glacier in Columbia Ice Fields.

The one night we spent in Jasper, it rained. Jerry would start a fire, get it going quite nicely, then the rain would come and put it out. When the rain left a few minutes later, he did it again -- only to have the rain put out his fire again. The good thing was that the firewood was free.

Today, we drove for nearly six hours to get to Prince George. We are now back in Pacific time, so we gained an hour. The drive was full of scenic views and we even saw two bears and a large moose.

Since pictures tell a better story than our words, see the pictures below.

Thank you for following our blog. We will update it again when we get to the next wi-fi spot. Everyone stay healthy and enjoy your life.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lethbridge, Alberta (Canada)

We left Cambria 6 weeks ago, and are finally now in Canada. So we turned off our cell phones and will keep them off until we get to Alaska, approximately 4-6 weeks away. Rates in Canada are too high.

Our drive from Montana to Lethbridge, Alberta was a bit hectic. The winds were easily 60 miles per hour, hitting us from the left side of the RV. That caused the awning on the left side to unroll while we were traveling down the road. Not just once, but so many times we couldn't count! The way Jerry handled it was to slow down the RV, and the awning would automatically roll back in. After doing this for numerous times, we sighted some grain silos beside the left side of the road. He drove to the right of the silos to block the wind. Then, with a little duck tape and bungie cords, we were set to go without any more incidents.

We've been in Lethbridge for three days now and will leave tomorrow to join up with Dorothy, my sister, and Dave (her husband) who will be making the rest of the trip more or less with us in their camper. We are looking forward to the experience.

We've been using a device called SPOT, a GPS tracking device to let family and friends know (by cell, text, or email) where we are, or to get help, if necessary, or to dial 911 in the event of something serious happening to us. The device also pin points on the Google Map the exact place we are staying. We will update the Google Map below with each new posting.

Until next time -- we repeat -- live the life you love!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Deer Lodge, Montana

Never heard of Deer Lodge, Montana? Well, neither did we until we stopped here on our way into Canada. This is our last week before we cross the border. Deer Lodge reminds me of the small town I grew up in - Cold Spring, Minnesota -- just one Main Street running through the town.

Getting here from Salt Lake City was somewhat of a challenge. When we left SLC, the temperature was in the low 70s. By the time we got to Deer Lodge (with one night stop at Black Foot, Idaho), the weather was 38 degrees F. Not only that, but the winds were at over 40 miles per hour with rain (and some snow flakes) falling. Jerry had to work extra hard to keep the RV on the road as we kept getting hit with strong wind spurts. See pictures below taken while we were traveling to Deer Lodge.

Bryce Canyon Hike

Friday, May 8, 2009

Highway 12, Kodachrome Basin and Salt Lake City

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers (and mother substitutes) everywhere! We send our best wishes for an enjoyable day.

We certainly had one of the best RVing weeks ever. The State of Utah has some of the most exquisite scenery around. As we mentioned before, we traveled off of Highway 12 to the Kodachrome Basin State Park about 20 miles from Bryce Canyon. It is a relatively small area, far from any civilization and surrounded by red-orange natural rock towers ranging from six to 170 feet in height.

We stopped for a bit, took some pictures and then moved back on to Highway 12 to Escalante, Utah where we planned to spend four days. The first day, we walked to the Petrified Forest about 2 miles from camp. We climbed to the top of a hill (remember, the altitude is still over 7,000 feet) where most of the petrified rocks were. Again, another day of good exercise!

However, we couldn't get the peace of Kodachrome Basin out of our mind. So we packed up and drove back 30 miles to the Basin -- only to find that all 27 camping sites were taken. But, lucky for us, the host offered us the Host Site, the only one with electricity and water. It was set away from the other 27 sites, so it was if we were alone out there -- no cell or internet coverage. This was our back yard behind the RV.

Jerry grilled the dinners and we ate outside every night. The weather was in the 60s. On Thursday, Jerry decided that we would bike the area. I wrongly assumed that we would be biking on a bike path around the area. NO -- it was a two-foot wide dirt path with rocks and tree stumps, hills and valleys -- and certainly not my idea of biking. Even he agreed that I shouldn't do that again.

On Friday, we drove to Salt Lake City for Mother's Day weekend. Yesterday, we spent about 3 hours at the Family History Library. What an amazing operation! There are five floors and millions of records on the internet and microfilm. I had a chance to copy the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census relating to my grandparents on my mother's side. We were told that the Library is in the process of digitizing the records and that 100,000 people from all over the country are currently working on the project. Jerry also found out information on his mother's side of the the family. I guess just about everything anyone wants to know about family history is archived there.

Last night an old friend, Mike J., joined us for dinner. It was good catching up with him.
Then today -- we had a once in a life time experience! The RV Park where we are staying provided shuttles to downtown Salt Lake for us park attendees to attend the weekly live Mormon Tabernacle Choir television and radio performance. With 360 people in the choir from ages 25 to 60, including a full orchestra, the Choir is the longest running radio show in the world -- 80 years. This was its 4,156 show.

We sat fairly close to the front in the balcony and absolutely enjoyed the whole proceeding. The music was so powerful in the hugh dome, and the voices blended with precision.
In the audience was David McCollough, the Pulitzer Prize author of John Adams (made into a miniseries on HBO). I am 75% finished reading the book, after which Jerry and I are planning to watch the HBO miniseries on DVD. In honor of Mr. McCollough, the Choir sang their Grammy winning rendition of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." I don't think there was a dry eye in the audience. It was a great way to celebrate Mother's Day. (We even dressed up for the occasion!!!)
Have a wonderful week, and thank you for following our blog.
Jerry and Mary

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Hello to all!

After leaving Las Vegas, we spent the night in Mesquite, NV. With one of the two main casinos in Mesquite closed down, the place was not a den of activity. The weather was in the high 70s. We wore shorts and I wore my sandals as we left Mesquite.

But, somewhere along the nearly 4 hour drive to Bryce Canyon, the temperature dropped into the 40s as we were at almost 10,000 feet altitude going over Highway 14 pass. We were surprised to see snow along the highway.

After descending from the summit, we headed towards Highway 12. An article in The Tribune before we left Cambria stated that Highway 12 in Utah was a "must see before you die." Thus, we wanted to include Highway 12 on this trip. And are we glad that we did! So far, we have seen Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon. We are spending 5 days at an RV park just outside the entrance to Bryce Canyon.

We rode our bikes into the State Park. It was a bit of an up hill ride, and being at 8,000 feet altitude didn't help our breathing. Of all the people visiting Bryce this week, we were the only two (plus a dog) riding bikes. It was a real workout, but well worth it. In this slower mode of travel, we were able to take in more of the scenery and wild life -- because we didn't zoom past it in a vehicle.

We had fun taking lots of pictures and have put together a short slide show for you. See also a couple of pictures below the slide show. Enjoy!