27 August – We drove 226 miles on E. Trans Canada Hwy to Cache Creek, BC (Brookside RV). This should be our last night in Canada. We stopped along the way in Lake McLeese at the Cariboo Wood Shop and bought fudge (does this make sense?) and ate a picnic lunch on their picnic table. This high desert terrain is yet another one unlike anything we’ve seen so far. Horse ranches, lumber yards, log houses, log furniture, and logging trucks are in abundance.
Roxy has been helping us navigate with the “Mile Post”, but she thinks she might need glasses like everyone else in this truck!
And, Cache Creek has a Dairy Queen. Ron Berry has to stop at every one that he sees, and they seem to be everywhere. Someone told us there would be a Walmart everywhere, but no, it’s DQ!
26 August – We called (yes, phone service for the first time in 5 days) Grandma Dunham for her 96th birthday. What a blessing she is! We drove 220 miles today to Prince George, BC (Bee Lazee RV). In following along in the “Mile Post” we noticed that the world’s largest fly rod (60’ long w/21” fly) was in Houston, BC. So, of course, we had to stop for photos. This was built by local avid fishermen volunteers. We don’t understand why, but hey, whatever! And, Connie thought the picnic table made of logs was super.
Every morning, during our prayer time, we always ask for traveling mercies (among other things), and today we felt God’s protection. While stopped at a rest stop about 30 miles out from of our campground for the night, we noticed a camper tire showed more wear than we had noticed at first. The “Mile Post” revealed there was a Canadian Tire store in Prince George, so we stopped there on the way in. Remember, we carry 2 spare tires for the camper. Well, we had to use them both today, because both back tires were ready to shred. So, now we have no spares. While Ron and Irv change the tires, Connie checked with the store to see if they had any trailer tires that would fit (they are hard to find, and normally have to be ordered, taking up to a week to obtain). Well, they had 2 already on rims in stock.
We don’t consider this just luck—but divine intervention. Yes, the tires were twice as much as we would have spent, but we felt so blessed! Considering where we had been traveling for the last 5+ days, hundreds of miles from nowhere, this could have been disastrous. Thank you, Lord (again)!
25 August – Drove 212 miles to Telkwa, BC (Fort Telkwa RV Park), encountering 22-wheeler logging trucks who apparently think they own the highway. It’s really quite unnerving seeing one coming toward us simply flying when there are quite a few single lane wooden bridges to cross on the Cassiar Hwy. But, seriously, this is the best road we’ve had on the trip. We drove in 4 hours what we normally do in 6 hours. We actually thought we were going to be too early for check-in to our campsite.
It really looks like fall here—the trees have turned a bright yellow. No bears in the road today, but we did see two, one of which was peeking out of the bushes at the traffic. Interesting signs along the way: avalanche area (that would be rocks, folks), end of avalanche area, watch for livestock (apparently their cows and horses, etc. just roam about without fences).
We’ve been in the wilderness for so long, when driving into Telkwa, we were so excited to see an actual town! What?! DQ, McDonald’s, KFC, and a full-fledged grocery store (I bet they have fresh fruit and veggies in there!!). Guess what our itinerary is for the evening! First, we’ll dine at KFC, bop over to DQ for dessert, then we’ll go grocery shopping! AND, we have great WiFi at the campsite and our cell phones work. Life is Good! Thank you, Lord, for all your many blessings and for keeping us safe on this journey.
24 August – Well, we did it! We went to the bear viewing site at 6:00am, and saw a female grizzly (tagged by the name of Mirror) dining on salmon right on schedule. She dove into the water and caught a live one, ate it, then went back into the woods for some berries, etc. The forest ranger says they are getting pretty tired of all the salmon now and getting ready for hibernation. None of us got any really good pics of her because she was moving so fast.
Then, we ate breakfast in Hyder, AK (Glacier Inn). This was another restaurant that papers their walls with dollar bills (but, this time mostly Canadian dollars). We decided to leave our American dollars, and they are posted under the Gift Shop sign in the back of the restaurant. So, if you go there, look us up!
Next, we drove 16 miles of mountain dirt, rough, narrow road up 3,686 feet to Salmon Glacier (Stewart, BC). People said the sight would knock our socks off, and they were correct. This was the most spectacular sight we’ve seen. It’s so awesome to look down on TOP of a glacier! Of course, the 2 Dunham children had to go up even higher to stand on the edge of the 3,686 ft. drop to get a better vantage point. Ron and Connie used better judgment (since they are both a little freaked out by height). Ron drove the whole thing, and probably would not have done so if he had known what it would be like.
Once on top of the glacier, we met “Bear Man”, who sells DVD’s and postcards of the area. This man has been doing this for 30 years! He lives in his car and/or little tent up there in the summertime. Since this area gets 50 ft. of snow in the winter, we’re sure he will be coming down off the mountain soon! He told us that it’s pretty normal for folks (mainly women) to throw up after reaching the top. We’re not sure if he meant that was from the altitude or from the sheer fear of the drive up there. Oh, did we mention we have not been bothered by mosquitoes this whole trip? Well, when we got out of the truck up there, the air was black with them! Whoa! Out with the spray!
Back down to Hyder, AK and stopped at the General Store and talked with the local owner and learned a lot about Hyder.
Apparently, there were 10,000 residents in Hyder around 1970 and then the gold prices dropped, killing the industry. Now, there are 55 people—thus the term “Friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska.” Hyder has no police department, medical facilities, school (they lost their school and teacher when 2 of their students graduated a few years ago) or anything but a couple of restaurants and a general store. Note: Keep in mind that each time we go into Hyder, AK we don’t need a passport. However, coming back into Stewart, Canada a passport is required. It’s best to keep your passport on your person at all times.
We were referred to “The Bus” in Hyder for fresh halibut and chips, etc. for dinner. It was THE best halibut we have ever had. It was a unique dining experience. Pictures on the wall show this is the spot where Robin Williams was filmed in the movie “Insomnia” in 2001.
23 August – This blog post is being written by Connie on our way (150 miles) to Stewart, BC (Big Bear RV Park) so as to give a more detailed account of one of our days. In the beginning, Ron gets to drive on the wrong side of the road (due to more road construction).
Moose!! We had been told to watch for bear, not moose!
Aw, there’s a black bear! We have to wait for it to cross the road in front of us. No, we didn’t get a pic of that one. We wonder how long we will continue to be forever looking for wildlife when we return from our trip. We stop at a pull-off to go back into the camper to make PBJ sandwiches, and Connie makes sure the door was closed after seeing that bear! On the road again—oops, another bear in a curve so we can’t stop to get its picture either.
Note: This is the only way to do this trip. Not only do you have your home and food supply with you, but you always have a restroom available. There are many, many miles between any type of facilities and we would not want to try to find lodging other than campgrounds or RV parks. We depend on the “Mile Post” manual for mile by mile information and our GPS to get us to the next stop. We’ve been really blessed to find diesel when we need to re-fuel and have sweated it out only on a couple of occasions. We have had no cell phone service for 4 days while in Canada (even though we purchased the international plans, both AT&T and Verizon). In hindsight, perhaps we should have brought a satellite phone to use here. Wait! The road has changed! We now have a yellow line down the middle and white lines on the sides of the road and it’s somewhat smooth. Yay!! We carry extra truck and trailer tires. If we break down on these rough roads out in the wilderness, it’s up to us to fix it! We can’t call for help!
The “Mile Post” gives us the population of each little town we go through. Stewart has a whopping 700 people! We’ve actually been in places with only 10 people in them. Oops, another black bear! They appear to be everywhere. It’s so hard to get pics of them while avoiding hitting them. It should be exciting at our campsite tonight!
Again, the scenery is breathtaking. Irv and Connie (riding in the backseat today) literally cannot see the tops of the mountains (they are that high). We are so glad the sun is shining so we can see yet a different type landscape. Glaciers! One massive blue one is called Bear Glacier (appropriately named). It comes right down to the water! Amazing sight! This makes up for the Glacier Bay tour that we weren’t able to take because of the weather, and it’s FREE. The many waterfalls are adding to the gushing rapids of the brooks. The beauty just doesn’t end!
We arrived at the campground and tried to make a credit card call from their phone booth without success. Other friendly campers suggested we go to a downtown Stewart hotel to use their phone, which worked.
After setting up camp, we went to Hyder, AK recreation center (about 3 miles from Stewart) to hopefully view grizzly bears feed on salmon in the stream. They have a wooden protected walkway over the stream for viewing and photography. It was a very slow day for bears today, with only a 6:00am visit by one grizzly. (They must have all been out on the highway!) We may try to go back tomorrow at 6:00 am, if we can get up that early. Hyder is a ghost town (reason unknown at this time). We ate at the Bitter Creek Restaurant in Stewart tonight—best salmon and seafood chowder we’ve had!
22 August – 196 miles on the Cassiar Highway to Iskut, BC (Mountain Shadow Campground). This is unchartered territory today on what we understand is really rough, sometimes gravel road. Note: When traveling in Canada, do not waste your money on cell phone international packages, because you won’t be able to use it anyway in Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon.
We discovered Jade City along the way and, naturally, had to stop and shop. They mine the jade here and bring in huge boulders and cut it into jewelry, etc. Very interesting!
Pretty rough traveling on the Cassiar Hwy, not to mention there are no lane markings. But, we are here safe and sound (thank you, Lord)! We saw another glacier coming into the campground area.
We are camping out in the middle of nowhere, folks, but it’s beautiful here.
The guys have been practicing with taking close up pictures of the fireweed. It’s everywhere. This particular one caught the bees doing their job.
We continue to be amazed at God’s beautiful earth, and to Him we give thanks for this wonderful and safe journey.
20 August – We made a day trip to Skagway, AK from Whitehorse, Yukon (our last day in Alaska). The scenery along the way was breathtaking—mirror lakes, deep gorges, ice glaciers, green mountains, waterfalls, and the world’s smallest desert (Carcross Desert). The desert is actually an ancient lake dried up from glacier silt.
Skagway is a tourist port for the cruise ships, but it was still fun to go there.
Lots of jewelry stores full of tanzanite, jade, blue diamonds, sapphires, diamonds and every stone you can imagine. Competition is fierce among the jewelers. Laura and Connie were working great prices on rings when the husbands stepped in and put a stop to the negotiations. Oh, well!
On the way back to Whitehorse, we saw yet another black bear and a grizzly. The grizzly came up on his hind legs and looked enormous. Later, we learned she had cubs with her.
The guys have wanted us to include in our blog about the number of bicyclists we see along the Alaskan Hwy—sometimes just one alone in the wilderness, miles from nowhere. We don’t understand why anyone would want to do that!! There is so much wildlife out there to encounter. We just call them “Meals on Wheels.”
Another noteworthy mention on the roadsides is that of names or messages written on the dirt banks with small stones. This practice was started in 1990 by a Ft. Nelson swim team. Also, there are a lot of “Inukshuks” which are rock cairns built by Inwit Indians as land marks. Kind of reminds you of Stonehenge rock formations. (Sorry, no pics of that.)
19 August – Left Destruction Bay and drove to Whitehorse, Yukon (Hi-Country RV Park). We stayed at this campground on our way up the Alaskan Hwy. We’ll stay here 2 nights so as to get in a day trip to Skagway, AK. That will be the end of our travels in Alaska. Then, we have probably another 6-7 days in Canada before getting back to the lower 48 states. We complain about the roads in Canada, but the scenery is fabulous. The Aspen trees have turned a bright yellow since we first came through the Yukon. It looks like fall weather is coming in fast. It’s probably time for us to be heading south!
Today, we saw a bald eagle sitting in a spruce tree along the road, plus approximately 6 open-range horses grazing along the road. We had been told we would probably see Dall Sheep coming down the mountain to lower areas with their young, but we saw none today–maybe tomorrow, on our way to Skagway. Our host told us about a bakery just past Haines Junction (Village Bakery), so we made a stop. We bought cherry and apple strudel, huge cookies (PB, Choc Chip and Ginger Snaps), and danish. Yummy!!