Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 23, Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson

                                  Peace Valley north of Dawson City

The skies weren't perfect this morning but at least there was no wet stuff or white stuff falling from them.  We were back on the road again.

Everything I've read about the Alaskan highway warns about the many curves and steep grades,  the loose gravel, and pot holes.  Although I encountered a few curves and a few steep grades  today the road conditions were perfect. There was no loose gravel and very few pot holes to speak of.  Maybe there is worse stuff to come, but so far so good.  Many sections of the Alaskan Highway have been straightened out and leveled out.  We drove on one section today that used to have dozens of curves and now it is pretty straight. The infamous Suicide Hill is no longer.  In fact we were looking for it and blitzed right on by.  We also wanted to stop by Charlie Lake but again we missed the markers because they had not been put on the revised part of the highway.
                                  There is a curve on the horizon, but this is pretty straight.

The scenery was spectacular.  The area around Dawson Creek is fairly flat the farther north we went the more trees and hills we saw.

                                 You can see tree for miles and miles and miles.

Of course the highlight of the day was seeing a black bear. I took this picture through the windshield of my RV. I was afraid if I got out Sadie would scare him away.  The bear was very nonchalant about the motor running.  Didn't seem to bother him at all.

We were going to stay at the city center park in Fort Nelson, but there was a" no overnight parking" sign at the entrance so we checked out the visitor center which is located in the Elks Club building.  We were granted permission to park in the parking lot for the evening by one of the visitor center personnel who just happened to be there getting ready for the grand opening.  The center doesn't open until June 6.  This seems pretty typical.  We are finding things are just opening up or will open after this weekend.  

I will remember Fort Nelson in that I paid the equivalent of $4.58 per gallon for gas here. Yikes!!! Our mileage today was 286.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You've gotta be kidding!

I just can't seem to get away from the white stuff!! Dawson Creek at 6:30 this morning.  Obviously we didn't leave today.  Dah...

I don't think Bill bargained for this.  He is sweeping the snow off the solar panels so the batteries can recharge. Nancy is holding the ladder.  The snow is pretty slick and slushy.   Hopefully, the white stuff will go away be morning so we can get back on the road. The weather forecast more northerly is for warmer weather.  Please..... 

May 21, Dawson Creek

                         Depiction of surveyor pointing the way to build Alaskan Highway

We went back to the Alaska House and see the exhibits on the building of the highway.  The movie had been  extremely informative but we didn't have time  yesterday to see the exhibits of the road building .  It was very interesting and worth our time.  We learned that the only original wooden bridge that was still in use was about 20 miles away.  It was located on part of the original highway. The Army's job was to punch through a road, and then civilian contractors were to go back and finalize and rebuild/cleanup as necessary.  So the bridge is not the first bridge built over the river, but is considered the original permanent bridge.  We were not sure if the motor homes would go over the dirt road so we drove out in Liz's car after taking pictures of Mile 0.

There are two Mile 0 markers.  The first one was in my last post.  It is the official one.  Apparently its location was creating traffic concerns so the city established a second one in the middle of down town.  It stands there year round except during the Christmas season when it is replaced by a Christmas tree.  It too is located in the middle of a round about, so it poses a traffic hazard as well.  I guess the theory is that the down town traffic is slower than the highway traffic where the original marker is located.

We headed out to the Kiskatinaw River Bridge by car.  It was a good thing we decided not to take the motor homes because it started to snow.
   Note the wooden planks forming the road bed.

  By the time we returned to our homes the snow was coming down pretty good.  We made the decision to stay another night, even though this was the beginning of May Long (the Canadian Long Weekend) and we may have difficulty finding a campsite later.  Better safe than sorry.  We have a few high mountain passes to go over and the forecast is not favorable.  Besides, we found internet which has given me the opportunity to complete some of the daily blogs.

May 20, On to Dawson Creek via Chetwynd

The morning brought rain.  Time to dig out the rain pants.  By the time we arrived in Chetwynd it was raining pretty hard and it was cold.  Our first stop was at the visitor center to confirm that there  was a sani dump and water fill up. Also we wanted  to get information on the chain saw carvings. The town is noted for the world chain saw championship competition. .  The sani dump was easy to find and very convenient, although big rigs would need to use the school turn out across from the dump vs going up the street to turn around as suggested by the person at the visitor center.  There is ample parking across the street from the visitor center for day use if you want to walk around town and see all of the carvings.

These are a few of my favorites.  The detail is unbelievable.  A chainsaw did all of these?

This was a bench.  I was tempted to try it out, but there was a huge pool of cold rain water on the seat.

This is a guy panning gold and a salmon is jumping up out of the water.  What you don't see is there is a bear behind the gold panner ready to strike at the fish.  It was pretty impressive.

Normally we would have walked around the town to see all of the sculptures but the cold, freezing rain, dictated we take Liz's car and park closer to the downtown area.  We discovered Artisians were from as far as Japan and Africa.  I would love to see the competition which us held every year in early June.  The town is just waking up from winter and not quite ready for visitors yet.  We were told that the weather had been really nice until yesterday.  Where have we heard that before.  Had the weather been nicer we would have spent more time in the town, but it was time to continue up to Dawson Creek, Mile 0 of the AlCan.
This is the official Mile 0.  There is another one a few blocks away in the center of town.

We arrived at the visitor center and found out contrary to our information there was no wifi but we could get it at the Alaska House.  It was still pouring down rain and getting colder. We hurried down to the Alaska House and yes there was wifi but we couldn't get it to work...probably the weather.  We watched a very interesting and informative movie on the building of the AlCan highway.  The Army Corps of Engineers was challenged to build the highway after the invasion of Pearl Harbor.  There was concern the Japanese might attack  the Aleutian Islands only about 750 miles away and the highway would provide defense support.

Since wifi wasn't working at the Alaska House we decided to go to the library.  Success!..sort of. I was able to check bank and credit card balances but could not get into my blog or any blogs.  Also, I was trying to research BC and Yukon boondocking campsites and those sites were blocked.  I guess the filter gods didn't like the terms "dry camping" or  "boondocking".

We headed for "Uncle Sam's" on the out skirts of town for the night and our plans were to catch the museum tomorrow and take pictures of the the 0 Mile Posts and then continue north.  It was raining a very cold rain by the time we got back.  Total mileage for the day was 112 mileage.  We sure saw a lot in those few short miles.

May 19

We left Lightening  Creek to head towards Prince George and to get wifi at the visitor center.  There wasn't any wifi so we moved on. There is a casino next to the visitor center which possible would have provided overnight parking but it was too early in the day to stop.  Although Mile Post and other  guide books indicated  there was a lot to do in Prince George, nothing peaked our interest so we opted to continue on up to road.

The drive was spectacular.  Lots of waterfalls along the way especially north of Hixon.  We hit road construction  which meant brief delays.  We drove on until we found a nice  rest stop south of Chewynd.  The official rest stops in BC are very nice and usually have picnic tables and toilets.  This one had a nice view of the mountains and there was a utility easement across the highway that led to several waterfalls and a great area to let Sadie run.

Total mileage today was 263.  I think this was a record for us.  It's light by 5:00 A.M. and isn't getting dark until well after 9:00 P.M.

May 18, Barkerville

                                              Gold mining town of Barkerville

Today we headed for Barkerville.  It's a  gold mining town that has been restored and we had been told they have shopkeepers dressed in costumes and various exhibits.  It's located about 50 miles from Quesnell.  Our good weather had left us and the morning looked pretty dreary, but we were excited about exploring this little town. It turned out we dodged the rain for the day, although it was cold and windy.

On the way we saw a moose in the marshes.  She was pretty curious about us.

Entrance fee was $14.00 ca and it turned out this was a pretty good bargain.  If you bring your receipt back the next day you can get in for $2.00. Seniors are less.  The set up is much like Jamestown or Williamsberg with re enactments of scenes from yesterdays.  I'm sure we would have paid twice that much in the States. There is a carriage that will take  you through the town for $6.00 and there are also docents who will give you a guided tour of the town and China Town.  I found China Town most interesting. I knew there was a large Chinese population during the California gold rush but I didn't realize BC has such a large population during that time. The Chinese came to earn enough money to send back home to finance the overthrow of the current oppressive dynasty.

I attended an exhibit on the water wheel and how it works and listened to reminiscences of Judge Bigley, known as the hanging judge  and his court clerk.  Both were funny and yet informative. The wheel brings the gravel up from the mine and then the water washes the gravel away, leaving the gold.  It took most of day to see everything, although my brain went into overload there was so much to see.  I think I would be best to do it in two days.

There are several restuarants and shops on main street.  We stopped at the bakery and had lunch.  The baker told us this was a good time to come because the  season hadn't quite started yet.  During the summer there is a line out the door.  On the other hand not everything was open.

Placer gold mining is the method of choice for the area vs hard rock gold mining.  Apparently the whole area is still very actively gold mining.  In fact, Lightening Creek is one of the most active areas.  I walked up the road in the morning and there were lots of "no trespassing" signs warning of claims and not to bother them.  I'm not sure how far the road went, but I saw at least a half dozen mining claim signs within a couple of miles.

May 17, Quesnell

This morning we had intended to go to the visitor center at Williams Lake which was at the bottom of the hill from the casino but it didn't open until later.  We decided to go straight to Quesnell (pronounced kweNELL).  This is a very historic little town with lots of art galleries and painted fire hydrants and a beautiful river walk. It located where the Frazer and Quesnell rivers join  together.

We parked at "Uncle Sams" and unhooked Liz's car.  We wanted to go to the visitor center and get information on campsites and other exhibits in the area.  We got to the visitor center and it was closed on Sunday and Monday.  However, the manager happened to be in the office and she let us in and was extremely helpful.  We were trying to locate a map of the forest campsites and forest roads.  She explained there used to be a map but the forest services changes the roads and campsites frequently so they quit publishing the maps.  She did tell about a site about 20 miles out of town and on the way to Barkerville which sounded interesting because we were thinking about going to  Barkerville the next day.

We checked out the campsite, Lightening Creek Rec Area,  and decided it would be a great place to stay.  We returned to town and walked in the historical district and the river walk  and checked out the murals and painted fire hydrants.  What a neat little town.!! We also discovered a wonderful new syrup.  Have you ever heard of Birch Syrup?  YMMMM. Not as sweet as Maple Syrup and wonderful on ice cream.

                                             The only walking bridge over the river.

Just a sampling of the painted fire hydrants.

Back to Uncle Sam's and retrieved our rigs and drove out to the Lightening Creek Recreation Site.  The weather was beginning to look ominous.  However, we managed to get dinner together before it started to rain.  The camp was on right on the river.  Sadie was in heaven...water and little critters to chase off leash.
Our camp is behind the trees at the bend.

                                            From my window.  It just gets better!!

We drove a grand total of 100 miles today.  Wow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 16, Williams Lake

We left our campsite and continued onward on Highway 98 towards Lillolet. Bill had told us there was a Jade exhibit there and some other interesting things.  The road continued to be steep and windy.  At least there were a few more places to pull out and see the sites.
This was at one of the pull outs.  

Crown Lake

We missed the little town of Lillolet and we didn't turn off the highway soon enough and then there was no place for all of us to turn around.  We continued on to Clinton which was suppose to have some sites.  Clinton was a little disappointing.  I think the Mile Post hyped up this town a little too much.  There was a plot of land which had a bunch of signs on it with names and cities, but not much else.  Maybe we missed something?

The road leveled out and made for smooth driving  so we continued on to 100 Miles House to see the original mile house and huge skis.
100 Mile House and 32 foot skis

 By the time we got there the visitor center was closed and we needed to think about finding a place for the night.  We decided that the 100 Mile House was actually the visitor center and not the original mile house but a replica. We decided to go on to Williams Lake and stay at the Signal Point Casino not too far up the road.

Williams Lake is a beautiful little lake and a place worth exploring more, but that will be another trip.  The casino overlooks the lake and we had some nice views. I walked Sadie down towards the lake and the homes were on beautiful lake front property.
Williams Lake from the Casino parking lot.  You can see some of the roof tops of the lake front homes.

Early morning near the lake. I noticed that the morning light is coming earlier every day.

We drove a total of 185 miles today.

Alaska bound..finally!!! A prelude.

      "Bill's Harem" Nancy, Liz, Bill, Claudia and of course Sadie

I met up with Nancy, Bill and Liz and the Langley, BC Walmart on Friday, May 14th.  Incredibly  we all arrived within an hour of so of each other.  My drive from Reno up  Highway 395 through Klamath Falls, Portland, and Seattle wasn't all that bad except for the Seattle maze.  I spent one night at a pull out near Klamath Falls and another night at a rest stop near Seattle. I thought I would miss the Seattle morning rush but seems there is no good time to go through Seattle.

Before crossing the border I stopped at Mt. Vernon to run errands and purchase a few groceries.  It's a neat little town with a lot of charm.  There is a Walmart right off the freeway, but there is no overnight parking there.

My border crossing at Blaine, was uneventful except for the boarder patrol asking twenty questions and the fact he seemed upset he couldn't confiscate any pepper spay or guns from me.  He asked how I planned to defend myself.  I almost asked him if I would need to defend myself but instead I told him I had a dog and he let it go...I didn't stock up on beer or wine as there is a limited amount that can be brought over the border and they didn't even ask me about that.  Darn! and in Canada you can only buy alcoholic beverages at liquor stores.

Before leaving the States I had researched Internet service costs via air cards and cell phone and found out data usage is   really expensive in Canada.  In this regard I opted not to use the air card or Iphone for data and rely on free wifi.  So far wifi and cell phone coverage has been sparse, so my blog postings will depend upon whats available.  I've had to use the Iphone 3G a couple of times so I'm hoping I haven't accumulated to much of a bill.  It costs $2.00 per megabite of data and there are 1000 MB in a giga byte.  Most air cards have 5 GB limit, and although I rarely exceed the limit 5 GB is a lot of money.  You do the math.

Gas is by the liter and there are 3.79 gallons per liter and at $1.09 Ca $ that's about $4.16 a gallon.  My little RV only gets about 8-9 miles to the gallon when towing a vehicle through fairly level terrain.  Ouch!! Maybe I should have bought stock in Shell or Chevron!

We all met up with Sharron  another WIN member who has been having health issues and hasn't been able to travel much lately. She lives in Surrey and drove over to Langley to meet us. We were able to have dinner with her and she gave us a few tips about our next destination.  She seemed  hopeful that she would be able to reschedule some appointments and join us, but it turned out she couldn't.

Our schedule and itinerary is really non existent.  We know will will travel a few days to get to Dawson Creek, mile 0 of the Alcan, but other than that we haven't done much far range planning.  The matra is that if it sounds like a good stop we'll stop. We'll drive until we don't want to drive anymore and stop when we want.  We plan to stay free wherever possible to make up for the price of gas.  This will include "Uncle Sam")i.e. Walmart, rest stops, campgrounds, maybe Elks or Moose parking lots...wherever it seems safe. We are all self contained and do not need hookups.... just an occasional sani-dump and water fill up.

So, May 15th, a Saturday with started out for Alaska in the mist of the Saturday morning commute. There was a lot more traffic for a Saturday morning than expected.  Our first agreed destination was Whistler via the Sea to Sky highway.  It turned out to be a gorgeous drive, but not too many pull outs on our side on the way up. At one point I was taking pictures through the windshield.  I don't advise doing this unless absolutely necessary.
Rock climbers, look at his sunburn!

Typical views of the mountains on the way

This greets as you enter Whistler Village. The stones were to represent the volcanic action in the area.  There is a First Nation name for the type of arrangement but I can't even come close to spelling it.  

Nancy and Bill seem a little apprehensive about the bear.  This was just one of many beautiful sculptures in the Village.

One of the nice scenes in the village.  There was a coffee shop to the right of the stairs. 

There was plenty of RV parking in a huge lot. I was amazed at how many people there were for a Saturday off season.  The "season" doesn't start until "May Long" which is the weekend of the 21st.  There were lots of people unloading mountain bikes getting to ride the numerous trails.  In hind sight, I wished we would have done a little more research on Whistler and had planned to stay longer. This was one place where a little planning was needed as there was overnight parking in the lots and only one RV park close by.  Oh, well next time.  I have to keep reminding myself this is a trip to Alaska and BC is a whole other summer of travel!!

After leaving Whistler we continued on for another 50 miles or so which took us about 2 hours.  The road was steep, windy, and narrow. There were hairpin curves where I crawled at 15 mph. In many cases that was the legal speed limit.  I think there would have been signs prohibiting RVs if this  road had been in the States. We ended up at Roger Creek Rec area.  It was a small primative campground with maybe 6 tent sites.  We all fit in rather snugly and had the site mostly to ourselves.  There was only one other party there when we arrived.

Great spot by the river

Liz and Bill are preparing dinner.
Our total mileage for the day was a total of 163. Great day for a beginning.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A little bump in the road

Mother's day has come an gone.  It was great to spend a few days lounging around my mothers house.  I did meet up with three high school girl friends (Marion, Nell, and Jennifer) and and spent the morning in a quaint little Carmel breakfast place catching up.  However, it wasn't enough time to catchup on six months worth of gossip.  I was also surprised when I checked into the Elks club to meet up with another old school friend, Sidney Berg Tabler.  We went to nursery together and our parents were good friends.  Sidney said she  started out ten years ago to help out at the Elks club  and is still there.

Well my house has rented.  The "bump in the road" is after moving the furniture back in, I now have to move it out.  So back to Reno I headed yesterday and arrived this morning to arrange to move it into storage.  The tenants are willing to pay full price and sign a lease, so it is well worth the effort.  I'm just waiting for the crew to confirm if they will show up Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.  I really wasn't in the mood to return to Reno.  Its SNOWING and RAINING AGAIN!!!!$#@. Will spring never come? , much less summer??

So my plans to meander up through Oregon and Washington to see friends before rendezvousing with my Alaska trip caravan will be put aside.  I figure if I leave Reno by Wednesday afternoon I still still meet them in Vancouver by the 15th. ..

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Finally back on the road again

Well, there is not a whole of of news to report.  My stay at Boca was cut short again due to bad weather.  I was awaken to the rocking  motor home with  40 mph winds and decided to wait for daylight to determine what to do.  The forecast predicted continuing high winds and 6-8 inches of snow.  I hooked up and was out of there by 7:00 A.M. and back to Verdi to park my RV in front of my house.  I figured I could dodge the HOA patrol for a few days. (We now have a no RV- parking -on- the street rule, not even for loading and unloading). I dodged the patrol as they showed up while I was pulling out on Friday to go back to Boca.

I headed out on Tuesday with a stop in Livermore to see my kayaking and road biking buddy.  Spent Wednesday  morning road biking  a 20 plus mile ride in the beautiful hills north east of Livermore.  Then headed over to San Jose to see my brother and have dinner.  The Bay area has great weather but the traffic is not friendly so you have to plan travel during the non commute hours (generally 9 A.M. -2:30 P.M. and the in the late hours of the night and wee hours of the morning and then there can still be traffic).

This morning I left San Jose and headed down to Pacific Grove to see my mother and also catch up with a few high school friends.  I was able to secure a spot at the Elks club which is the least expensive place to stay on the whole Monterey Peninsula.. $20.00 per night with electricity and water and on site dump but basically a parking lot.  Other RV parking in the area runs from $40.00-$65.00 per night with no better amenities.  Ouch!

The weather is beautiful.  So glad to be out of the wind and snow of Tahoe!!