Lens-Artists #100: Long and Winding Road

This week Tina has chosen “The Long and Winding Road” as our challenge. During our travels we have driven on so many long and winding roads I wasn’t sure which ones to include.

As I thought about how to approach this challenge, my mind kept going back to our 2013 RV trip to Alaska.  There were many long and winding roads during our journey but I decided to focus on just one.

Exactly seven years ago today we were in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada at the start of the Alaska Highway (also called the AlCan). Before returning home we would travel on every mile of this long and winding road.

The United States military began construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942 to provide an overland route to Alaska. The approximately 1400 mile road from Dawson Creek, BC to Delta Junction, Alaska was completed in 8 months and 12 days.

Mile Zero
Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway! in Dawson Creek, BC

As you can see from the photo above, like many other travelers, we posed for a picture at the famous sign marking the beginning of the Alaska Highway. (The actual location of mile marker 0 is in downtown Dawson Creek, BC). There’s more about our stay in Dawson Creek at Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway.

Part of the road was paved, part was gravel, and part was under construction. There were frost heaves and pot holes, some marked with signs and some not. Sometimes we would go for miles without seeing another vehicle. We stopped at pull outs for breaks and never had a problem finding campgrounds or diesel fuel.

Gravel section of the Alaska Highway in the Yukon
The Alaska HIghway in the Yukon

We drove slowly and enjoyed the wildlife and magnificent views.

Moose on the Alaska Highway
Moose on the Alaska Highway
Alaska Highway
Alaska Highway

As I worked on this post I thought of how empty this road must be this summer with the U.S./Canadian border still closed. I remember the campgrounds, restaurants, and stores we stopped at along the way in Canada and Alaska. These businesses have a short season and depend on summer travelers to make it through the rest of the year. I hope that they will be able to make it until next year when hopefully people will be traveling again.

I am so grateful we made this trip when we did. I still dream of returning to Alaska. Next time we will not be towing our fifth wheel along the Alaska Highway. Instead, I see airplanes and ships in our future.

Thank you to Tina for this weeks Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Long and Winding Road

Favorite Alaska and Canada Wildlife Photos

Five years ago this week we were on the road to Alaska from Georgia. Once we crossed the border into Canada, I spent every day looking for wildlife. There were many “WOW” wildlife sightings in both Canada and Alaska.

I’ve been thinking about posting some of my favorite wildlife photos from the trip and today I finally got the boost I needed to put it all together. When my friend Ingrid at Live, Laugh RV posted that the theme for her very first Wednesday photo inspiration was wildlife, I immediately started going though the thousands of photos from the trip.

If you would like to participate or see other posts inspired by Ingrid, click on over to Ingrid’s post Wandering Wednesday.

Here are just a few of my favorite wildlife photos from our Canada and Alaska adventure.

Elk in loop 63
Elk near our campsite in Jasper National Park, Alberta
Bear in British Columbia
Soon after entering British Columbia we were in Mount Robson Park and saw this grizzly beside the road
Black Bear eating Dandelions
Bear in British Columbia
A small herd with calves
Bison herd with calves near Liard River Hotsprings in British Columbia
Moose in Denali National Park, Alaska
Black Bear Cub
Black Bear Cub in Valdez, Alaska
Stellar Sea Lions on day trip to Juneau
Stellar Sea Lions on wildlife cruise from Haines to Juneau, Alaska
Whale Tail
Humpback Whale on wildlife cruise from Haines to Juneau, Alaska
Two Sea Otters Valdez
Sea Otters on Columbia Glacier cruise from Valdez, Alaska
Pod of Orcas with calf
Pod of Orcas with calf on Columbia Glacier cruise from Valdez, Alaska
He was looking at me
Eagle at Deep Creek Beach, Alaska
Pair of Eagles
Pair of Eagles on Columbia Glacier Cruise from Valdez, Alaska
Puffins on the Columbia Glacier Cruise from Valdez, Alaska




Favorite Canadian Memories

I recently posted our Favorite Alaska Memories so now it is time to post our favorite memories of traveling through Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory. We spent 23 nights in Canada and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and friendly Canadian people.

We started our travels in Canada by spending almost a week in Alberta in Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.

We saw lots of wildlife as we drove through British Columbia on the Alaska Highway before arriving in Alaska for the first time.

After a week in Alaska we drove through Canada to Dawson City, Yukon and across the Top of the World Highway before returning to Alaska.

Our journey back to the lower 48 took us along the Cassier Highway through British Columbia.

For a map of our entire journey be sure to check out Our Route. And for a list of all the campgrounds where we stayed check out our Campground List.


Day 91: Back in the lower 48

Day 91: Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Williams Lake, BC to Oroville, Washington, USA. River Oaks RV Park Site 43. 393 miles traveled. One of our longest driving days since leaving home.

Our last night in British Columbia was in Williams Lake where we stayed at Stampede RV Park next to the rodeo grounds.

Willams Lake Stampede Grounds
Willams Lake Stampede Grounds

As we drove south we left the snow peaked mountains behind as we began to see more and more farmland and ranches. In one area we passed by the Painted Hills which reminded me of the Painted Desert. The road was good and even though there were still steep grades and curvy roads as we descended into and out of valleys we were making really good time. At some point along the way we decided we were going to cross the border in Washington.

Painted Hills in southern British Columbia
Painted Hills in southern British Columbia

We were driving on Highway 97 which runs right beside Okanagan Lake for many, many miles. There are several provincial parks along the lake and we could see boaters in the beautiful blue water. We passed several beaches full of swimmers trying to cool off in the 90 degree weather.

And then we entered Kelowna which is nothing but big box stores and chain restaurants for miles with stoplights at every intersection. It was bumper to bumper traffic and we wondered where all these people were coming from on a Wednesday afternoon. There were many big homes and condos high up on the hills overlooking the lake.

The canal next to the road in Penticton was full of rafters
The canal next to the road in Penticton was full of people rafting to beat the 90 degree heat

Finally we were past Kelowna and started to move along at a good pace again. In the town of Penticton a canal runs through town right beside the highway. The canal was full of people in rafts floating down the canal in colorful rafts of every size and description. As I rolled down the window to take some pictures these people waved as me as we went by.

After that we began to see fruit stands selling the famous Okanagan Valley peaches, cherries, and other produce grown in the valley. Orchards and vineyards grew in fields as far as the eye could see. We must have passed about 50 wineries all offering wine tasting.

Finally, about 5:00 we reached the American border in Oroville, Washington and went through customs. Everyone in an RV had to pull over to be inspected so we waited our turn and soon were on our way. I looked at my phone and had cell service so I called an RV park in Oroville and we got a site for 2 nights.

Our first day back in the states was filled with resting, doing laundry, and going to the grocery store. Once the chores were done we went to the Okanogan Winery shop in Oroville where I bought some delicious Chardonnay and Pino Grigio. We went to dinner at Trino’s, a very popular Mexican restaurant in town.

Now we start heading southeast to Georgia.

Traveling South through Yukon, British Columbia, and a side trip to Hyder, Alaska

Today is Day 90 of our great adventure, Tuesday, August 13, 2013. It’s been a week since my last post from Tok, Alaska.

Our journey from Tok to the Yukon border on the Alaska Highway was uneventful. When we stopped at the border crossing in the Yukon we handed the border agent our passports and his first question was “Are you heading home to Georgia?” He had not even opened our passports but he knew we were from Georgia when he saw our Georgia G license plate on the front of the truck! He is a fan of American college football and he and Henry talked football for a minute. Of course he asked the required questions and we were on our way.

Sunrise at Burwash Landing
Sunrise at Burwash Landing, Yukon Territory

As soon as we got past customs the road was terrible. We waited for a pilot car to take us several miles through a construction zone and the rest of the way was full of potholes and frost heaves. It took almost four hours to travel the less than hundred miles from Beaver Creek to Burwash Landing, our stop for the night. Our campsite was right on the lake and Blondie even got to go swimming. I woke up in time to take some sunrise pictures before we continued on down  the road.

We enjoyed watching a Bald Eagle in our campground in Teslin, Yukon Territory before we turned south onto the Cassiar Highway into British Columbia. Although the Cassiar is paved, it is narrow, winding, and full of pot holes and frost heaves. The first part of the road had no lines painted on it and no shoulders. The going was slow but beautiful. Our one wildlife sighting was a red fox on the side of the road.

After a restful night in Dease Lake, BC our next stop was Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska. To reach Stewart and Hyder we turned off of the Cassiar Highway onto the Glacier Highway for the forty mile drive down to Stewart and Hyder. It was one of the most beautiful drives we have been on and we saw two bears along the road.

After setting up camp in Stewart, we drove the three miles into Hyder, Alaska. We drove through town where there are a few stores, most of them closed, a hotel, bar and restaurant, an RV park, and some houses. Just on the other side of Hyder we were in the Tongass National Forest where there is a nice bear viewing platform on Fish Creek. The salmon are running through the creek to spawn and bears are frequently seen going after the fish. As soon as we got there we saw a black bear in the creek.

The next morning we went to the creek early to watch for bears at Fish Creek. We missed three grizzlies and a black bear that were there earlier. The most excitement we had was watching a wolf go after fish. After about two hours we decided to take the 17 mile drive on a gravel road to see Salmon Glacier. We reached an overlook where we looked down for a spectacular view of the glacier. After stopping again at the bear viewing platform with no sign of a bear we returned to the campground to get ready for the rest of our trip.

We stopped to look at Bear Glacier after we left Stewart
We stopped to look at Bear Glacier after we left Stewart

Early the next morning we were on the road again. We stopped at an overlook on the way out of Stewart for a close look at Bear Glacier.

We turned off of the Cassiar Highway onto the Yellowhead Highway. The road is good and we traveled through several towns before stopping in Houston for the night. We went out to a pizza restaurant for dinner and called it a day.

The going is slow on most of the roads we have been on since we first got to Alberta in June. We have been averaging about 45 miles an hour most days so the going is slow. It’s even slower on some of the mountain roads.

We are on roads now where we will be able to make some time. If all goes as planned we will be in Washington state on Thursday.