Archive for June, 2010

A Bounty of Bears in British Columbia Thursday June 10 2010

June 11, 2010 - 8:49 am No Comments

I forgot to tell you that last night in our campground a nice gentleman came by to speak to us while we were setting up. Low and behold he is from Muscle Shoals Alabama, and yes, he is a TVA retiree. No kidding!! He and his wife are moseying around Canada and not on their way to Alaska.

We started out toward Dawson Creek around 8:30 a.m. and had a full morning of wildlife watching. The only difficulty is that by the time someone spots something, especially a bear, he’s already hightailed it back into the woods. But we did get some photos of bears, moose, etc. We probably saw 6 or 8 bears—-one mama bear with two cubs. We also saw a couple of coyotes and a fox.

We hit 4,000 miles on this trip by the end of the day. Here’s something interesting: We stopped in a little town called Chetwynd which is famous for chain saw wood carvings. All along the street were the most intricate wood carvings you can imagine. We stopped for pizza and were told there is an annual wood carving contest going on right now. So off we went to the wood carving festival. There were 10 or 12 entries and they were from as far away as Massachusetts and Japan, Germany, and local. They started carving this morning and carve from 8 – 6 each day until Sunday when I presume they will be judged. The Japanese fellow has won the contest for the last three years. It appeared that he was carving a tiger. They all started with a huge chunk of cedar and they were going full force when we arrived. The contest was on the grounds of a recreation facility and folks were sitting on bleachers watching the activity. The carvings are detailed and intricate and, by the way, cost a lot of money when complete. But it was very interesting to watch.

We lost sight of the Rockies today and the landscape gave way to rolling hills with big tall skinny trees which we think are spruce. The temperature was wonderful today with a high of around 70. Don even put on his shorts—but getting in and out of the rig during the day was nice – not having to put on a coat every time we got out.

We finished the day in Dawson Creek. Tomorrow will be a big day for us because we’ll take our photo at the famous “Mile 0 Marker” for the Alaskan Highway. This is the starting point for everyone heading to Alaska and you always take your photo at the marker. We plan on driving the entire length of the Alaskan Highway, which is over 1,000 miles.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Happy Birthday Catherine Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9, 2010 - 7:28 pm 4 Comments

First of all, Happy Birthday today to Catherine, our sweet daughter-in-law, and Olivia’s wonderful mommy.

I’ve been meaning to mention that the farther north we drive, the longer we have daylight. For the last few nights the sun has not set until after 9:00 p.m., and last night, it was after 10:00 p.m. You really have to get in a mindset that it’s ok to go to bed at 10 when the sun is still shining. Don says it will only get “worse”, or “better” according to how you view daylight hours. Another point I need to mention is that we have these neat walkie talkies to use between our rigs. courtesy of Don and Sandie. It has great range so we can stay in touch. We take turns being the lead vehicle, and the lead can alert the other rig when wildlife is ahead or whatever. We are having a lot of fun with them and we can chat just like we are in the same vehicle.

We started the day around 9:00 a.m. and drove into the village of Jasper on our way to Lake Maligne (pronounced ma-leen). We bought tickets to ride in a boat out into the lake and the guide was very informative about how the area was discovered by a woman back in the early 1900’s. She was actually a surveyor, which was quite unusual for the times. We enjoyed about 90 minutes on the lake, seeing several glaciers and hearing the history of the area. We had lunch in our rigs and then hit the road again. We stopped for gas in Jasper and did some grocery shopping. Most of the items are in French in the grocery store, so it takes a little longer than usual to buy your products. We do see some things familiar—oreos, for one thing. We have seen lots of wildlife today—bears, caribou, and moose. This area is just teeming with wildlife; there’s something new around every corner.

We came upon the RearGuard Waterfalls today. We stopped the rigs and took a quick hike to the falls. There is an interesting story about the falls. The Chinook salmon come to this area, the farthest point north that they travel, to end their days where they began them. There is a photo of the falls and the information sign. What a breathtaking sight, and we could literally go right down to the falls. We could feel the spray in our faces.

After yesterday’s wild weather, we’ve had a moderate day, with temperatures in the low 60’s by evening. We crossed into British Columbia this afternoon and had another time change. Now we are on Pacific time (same as Ben) although I guess it’s called something else up here.

Tomorrow we will leave early–around 8:30 a.m. and we’ll cover more miles than in the last couple of days. We will drive through Prince George north to Dawson City and the start of the Alaskan Highway.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

A Full Day of Spectacular Scenery and Wildlife, Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 9, 2010 - 7:01 pm No Comments

We started the day around 9:00 a.m. I talked with some women out in the street—they were all breaking camp—and asked where they were headed. They are all on their way to Alaska. We hooped and hollered together; they asked where I was from, saying I had an accent (huh???). Everyone is tickled and amazed to hear we are so far from home now. Greg was outside unhooking the rig and he said he heard a bunch of cackling going on and looked up and there I was in the middle of it. Actually I think I’m the instigator, but I do love to talk with folks and hear their stories.

We first visited Mariane Lake, near Lake Louise. This lake was very dry, and the reason was the snow has not melted on the glaciers yet to fill the lake. Very interesting because the last time Don and Sandie were here (2003) the lake was full so they were surprised to see it so low. But they are a month ahead of their schedule from 2003.

We then visited Lake Louise briefly where I exchanged currency again for Canadian dollars. We had lunch in the parking lot in our rigs and then headed out. The rest of the day was spent traveling the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper. We passed several glaciers, the biggest was the Columbia Icefield Glacier. When we drove over the pass before getting to the glacier, it snowed on us for a while. The temperature plummeted from around 55 degrees to a low of 34 degrees. Then coming down the other side of the pass the temperatures moderated again. The scenery is spectacular as you will see from the photos. We saw a black bear with cub, elk, etc along the route. The water flowing in the river along the road was as emerald green as can be. This is coming from the melting glaciers and what a sight it is.

When we reached a campground, it was full so they sent us across the road to a facility that has electric hookups and bathhouses. Well the bath house was wonderful with hot showers. So it’s a nice spot for the evening and there are many travelers all around us. Many people from foreign countries in rental RVs. Everyone is friendly and interested in where we are going.

We shared dinner this evening with Don and Sandy—they grilled hamburgers and had corn on the cob and I made the salad. We sat outside in our chairs and enjoyed one of the first good weather evenings in at least 2 weeks.

Tomorrow we will sightsee around Jasper before heading out again.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Rendezvous with the Fanchers Monday June 7, 2010

June 9, 2010 - 6:26 pm No Comments

We grilled steaks for dinner last night and boy were they good. We have these little disposable grills with us — you literally use it once then throw away. What a great invention for travel. At any rate during our walk in the evening a coyote walked right out of the woods in front of us, looked at us indignantly, and strolled back into the woods. And where was our camera? Back in the RV, of course!

We had a good breakfast this morning and after getting everything put away, we drove over to a coin laundry less than a mile from our campsite. OK, once again we had sticker shock. One washer load was $4.00!!! We just bit the bullet and did three loads of wash and then dried. We used a lot of loonies and toonies, that’s for sure.

The afternoon was spent doing some housekeeping. I cooked a spaghetti dinner tonight to share with the Fanchers who arrived around 7:00 p.m. I also baked a peach cobbler that I thought Don and Greg would enjoy. Well, we all enjoyed dinner this evening.

We are looking forward to starting out in the morning with our travel companions.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Grocery shopping and Library Sunday June 6, 2010

June 6, 2010 - 11:44 am 4 Comments

We had a good night’s sleep and came into Banff Village to the library so that I could update the web site. I sure do miss having access to my computer at the campground. At any rate, before the library opened at noon, we decided to do some grocery shopping at the Safeway in Banff Village. Wow—price shock!!! A box of cereal was actually $10.00!!! I’m not kidding. Greg nearly had a heart attack! I tried to settle him down by explaining this is a tourist area and we are a captive audience.

The weather is nice today—cool for us but the locals are out in force, in shorts and flip flops. We have three layers of coats on today.

We are grilling steaks for dinner this evening, and tomorrow we will do laundry and housekeeping. I’m going to cook a spaghetti dinner tomorrow evening so Don and Sandie can enjoy it with us on their first evening in their RV.

My WiFi connections will be sporatic as I can find them. We will begin our journey to Alaska on Tuesday morning.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Lordy Lordy Lake Louise Saturday June 6 2010

June 6, 2010 - 11:35 am No Comments

We awoke to a cold and damp morning. The highs are still barely in the 50’s and the lows are in the 40s. But we continue to be comfortable in our RV. We dress in layers when we sightsee and the layers feel very good.

We had a good breakfast today – eggs, bacon, coffee and juice, before heading out to spend the day visiting Lake Louise and Emerald Lake. Lake Louise is about 30 miles from our campground and Emerald Lake is around 30 miles more.

Lake Louise is really a small lake nestled in the mountains in an extraordinary setting. Looking directly at the lake gives you a view of majestic rock formations with ice and snow all around. There is a little cabin on the edge of the lake where you can rent a canoe to use on the lake. No takers today. But the setting is absolutely breathtaking. The tourists are absolutely quiet. At the edge of the lake is a huge hotel called the Lake Louise Chateau. Every room in the hotel looks out on the lake. It is just spectacular and I know the photos will not do it justice.

After visiting Lake Louise, we drove north into British Columbia to the Emerald Lake. My good friend Bryan Jones told me we must visit this lake. We were not disappointed. Again, the lake is small, nestled between the snow covered Canadian Rockies. The lake is emerald green, and like Lake Louise, you can see to the bottom because it is so clear. While we were there, a wedding party was at the edge of the lake having photos made. The bride’s dress was white with emerald green accents, which was appropriate for the setting. The bridesmaid’s dress was the same emerald green. Honestly, as I looked across the lake, I expected to see Hansel and Gretel walking out of the woods. It was very dark and dramatic. Absolutely breathtaking.

As an added bonus, we passed a little area called the natural bridge. This was an area of a gorgeous stream flowing through a natural bridge. The water churned as it passed through a small opening in the “bridge”. The water was very green and clear.

Greg saw a black bear on the road coming out of Emerald Lake. Again, too quick to get a photo.

Our campground is in a very beautiful setting with mountains in every direction. The campsites are big and there are lots of trees. Today we saw two elk in a field near our site. We thought at first it was a deer, but another couple walking told us it was elk. They are big and can be dangerous so we didn’t venture too close.

Tomorrow we will go back into Banff to the library so I can update the website. We miss having wireless access in the campground. On our way back to the campground we will do some grocery shopping. We need to stock up before we start the next leg of our journey.

Don and Sandie will arrive Monday afternoon. We are looking forward to seeing them—

Stay tuned. Bonnie

Banff Village and Tunnel Mountain RV Park Friday June 5 2010

June 6, 2010 - 11:25 am No Comments

We slept well and saw a huge elk right behind our RV last night. The campground is quiet and has the most spectacular views from our site. Every direction you look gives you breathtaking views of snow capped mountains and jagged walls of rock. After breakfast and checking our maps of the area, we unhooked and closed up and headed for town. We are literally only a couple of miles from the village of Banff.

The temperature this morning was around 40 degrees when we awoke, and the high today was around 55 or so. It just seems very cold to us, mainly because it is overcast and we’ve not seen the sun today. At any rate, we parked in a nice lot for RVs on the edge of town and made our way up and down the streets. The village is very upscale and there are a lot of European and Japanese tourists. When I say “a lot” I don’t mean the streets are overrun with people. On the contrary, this time of year is great for us because the onslaught of visitors has not yet happened. Most of the tourists are either retirees like us, or college age kids who are traveling abroad.

We spent the morning shopping—well, I spent the morning shopping and Greg walked with me and was very patient. He is most interested in finding cute things for Olivia. We found a little shirt with a moose on it that says “Banff National Park”, and a cute little onesie that says “duck duck moose” with little moose prints on the back end. Just precious. We found the post office and mailed the items to Olivia today.

I found a couple of shirts for myself, and also a beautiful ring. It is a blue lace agate set in sterling silver, and this gem is found in southern British Columbia. I can’t get Greg to buy anything for himself!!

We asked the girl who sold me the ring where should we eat lunch. She said the best place in town is called “Eddie’s burgers”. So off we went to Eddie’s burger joint. It was an upscale ($13 for the burger) little hole in the wall, but the food was delicious. They use certified organic beef for the burgers and the fries were delicious also. So we each had a burger, fry, and diet pepsi and the bill was $38 (much to Greg’s chagrin) Poor Greg, and there was a McDonald’s right across the street! LOL

Tomorrow we will drive up to Lake Louise for the day, and possibly visit Emerald Lake as well. We love Banff. It reminds us somewhat of Yosemite in the way the mountains are formed. The scenery from our campsite is just unbelievable as you will see from one of the day’s photos.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

High Winds and Spectacular Scenery – Thursday June 4 2010

June 6, 2010 - 11:17 am No Comments

We left the Daisy May campground in Fort McLeod Alberta Canada around 9:00 a.m. Just about dawn this morning, we heard the winds start up. The skies were clear but the winds were high. The campground hosts said this is normal for this time of year. At any rate, for most of the morning, Greg worked hard to hold our rig in the road. He drove only 35 mph for a couple of hours. We’ve never seen such high wind.

Driving toward Banff National Park by a scenic highway made for a wonderful morning of driving (minus the wind). A coyote crossed the road in front of us (too fast for a photo) and the landscape is vast and full of cattle ranches and lots of horses. We saw a couple of bona fide cowboys riding herd on the cattle. Their dogs were running beside them.

We stopped for gas in a little community called Pincher Creek. Most of the small stations we have stopped at are “full service”. Do you remember what that means? It means as soon as you pull up to the pump, an attendant runs out and insists on pumping the diesel for us. We are driving on the Trans Canada Highway for the last few miles to Banff. We see the Canadian Rockies which are getting closer and closer as we drive.

We’ve really exercised our brains since we crossed into Canada—figuring conversion of kilometers to miles, etc. We can just about do it in our heads now. Still laughing about the toonies and loonies but the Canadians don’t see the humor in it.

We arrived at our campground around 3:00 p.m. We are in the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court until Don and Sandie arrive on Monday, June 8. We’ve been in touch with them by phone and we are all excited to start our Alaskan journey. This campground is very rustic but we have full hookups. No wireless, so that’s the only downside. We do have a couple of TV channels by antenna. So we can keep up with the national news pretty well with Global News on Canadian TV. We also have Sirius Radio which has been a great companion. We can get the news from CNN as well as listen to all sorts of good music while we read.

Tomorrow we will spend the day in the Village of Banff and learn our way around the area.

Stay tuned. Bonnie


June 4, 2010 - 5:32 pm No Comments

No need to worry, Mom and Dad are just out of network service at their campgrounds, so they’ll be returning online in a few days. (of course if the tables had been turned, they would have already called the foreign authorities trying to find me as to why I hadn’t been updating my blog.) 🙂

Crossing the Canadian Border

June 2, 2010 - 3:21 pm 4 Comments

We awoke to clear skies and mild temperatures after a night rain. After breakfast and breaking camp, we found a WalMart (thanks for the book, SaSa). Unfortunately I stepped on my reading glasses last night and figured we should get them adjusted at Walmart Vision Center before hitting the road. We did a little grocery shopping as well.

We reached the rest stop right before the Canadian border at lunchtime so we stopped and had sandwiches for lunch. The border crossing was very quiet and we did not have to wait any longer than 20 minutes to go through the gate. At the gate, Greg handed the attendant our passports. She asked some questions:

1. Where are you from? 2. Where are you going? 3. Do you have any firearms? 4. Do you have any alcohol or tobacco? 5. Do you have more than $10k cash? 6. How long will you be in Canada?

After answering the questions, she handed us back our passports and wished us well. So it was very easy.

We stopped at a visitor center right across the border and got a lot of good information from them. Maps, brochures, etc. They offered information about the route we will take from Fort McLeod, Alberta (tonight we are at Daisy May Campground) to Banff National Park. We look forward to the drive tomorrow because it will be skirting the Canadian Rockies. When we were in the parking lot at the visitor center, we heard someone yell “hello Tennessee”. It was the couple from the Dillon Montana campground who are also on their way to Alaska. Then believe it or not, when we pulled into the campground this afternoon, the same couple was in the office checking in for the night. Actually they are camped right next to us.

We decided to exchange $100 US dollars for Canadian currency. In Lethridge, a town before we arrived at Fort McLeod, we found a bank and I went in for the exchange. The currency is very much like ours, called dollars and cents. They have a $2 coin called a “toonie”, and a $1 coin called a “loonie”. The rest of the coins are the same as ours but look different. They do not have $1 bills. So I felt pretty smug when I left the bank with a handful of toonies and loonies and some larger bills.

We had a glimpse of the Canadian Rockies while driving from the border to the campground for the night. We have some spectacular scenery ahead of us. We are camped beside a flowing river. It’s very rustic but will do fine for the evening.

Tomorrow we will drive less than 200 miles to Banff National Park.

Stay tuned. Bonnie

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