Thursday, July 1, 2010

ALASKA DAY TWO: Cache Creek, BC to Smithers, BC

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We are up with the birds and the daylight at 4:30 to pack up, shower, and hit the road. We have a long day ahead of us!
The highway up to Prince George is wonderful. Considerable work has been done on it in recent years, with long sections of passing lanes. Thick forest of smaller trees, and several areas of fires in recent years. No deer fences, but the highway is cleared from 20 to 50 feet on either side of the road. Perfect area for wild roses, paintbrush and other wildflowers to grow!
Rick takes us up through rolling hills, more green fields, sometimes hay, and lake after lake! It is beautiful green country. The highway is in excellent condition, and as it is Canada Day, most of the construction is idle for the day! This section of road is the main connector between southern and northern BC, so they maintain the highway well. Plenty of passing lines and sections of four lane. Of course, traffic is limited this early in the morning to the truckers and an occasional other RVer!
We pull into the community of Williams Lake just before 8am. They have a beautiful log visitor center with free wireless internet, so I make a couple of emails while we wait for the bathrooms to open and pick up a couple of brochures.
I take over driving from Williams Lake to Prince George. Easy road, little traffic, especially heading north. Gradually as the day passes, the skies clear from overcast to big fluffy clouds. Hopefully we won’t run into rain in Stewart!
I remember parts of our drive up this road with Jed and Luke in 1996 as we pass various locations. I saw a rest area and told Rick, "We stopped here! I remember all the little western store fronts!” or as we pass Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park, “This is where we camped!” Wish I had read the 1996 journal before we left.
Quesnel is an industrial town " logging, mills, etc. and even a Wal-Mart! While the countryside between the towns is very rural and “wild”, the towns themselves are quite modern. It is fun along the highway seeing turn of the century or older cabins next to ultra modern NICE residences.
We pull into Prince George at 11:15a – seems like I didn’t figure the mileage exactly right as it was further than I anticipated. Good thing we arrived when we did, as I was struggling abit the last few miles. Starting to get the “noddies” from a rather restless night and then early departure.
We are routed over to the Yellowhead Highway (#16) west sooner than we anticipate and have to do some quick turns to get into a gas station/market. An hour stop, but we pick up some fruit and carrots, sandwiches for lunch, and a couple other things we forgot!
Out of Prince George by 12:15p and heading west on the “most scenic highway system” in Canada. I don’t know about that because we also read that the 40 miles over to Stewart is considerable spectacular! So far, the first 60 miles out of Prince George is more tree covered islands in a sea of green grasses. The conifers are not tall, and aspens are common amidst the spruce. The berm at the side of the road is now dotted with yellow flowers and the little oxeye white daisies that I remember from before. Occasionally a clump of red paintbrush or fireweed.
We stop in Burns Lake as Rick is getting the noddies to get a drink at the A&W. Those fast food places are very popular up here! I take the wheel to give Rick a break in anticipation of a late night into Stewart.
The views just keep getting better and better if you are a lover of glaciated mountain peaks. Couple that with more green meadows filled with deep grasses and flowers, forests (although there has been a bug kill through here) and you have some pretty nice driving! I seem to scare everyone else off the road, because for miles at a stretch I am the only one heading in my direction.
Fifty miles out of Smithers we start talking about the sensibility of trying for a 700 mile day (I think I misjudged my mileage estimate and we had to add another 50 on to my original 650.) on these two lane roads, slowing down for every town along the way, construction, etc. We are getting old and can’t do this as easily…or as safely. So like prudent people, we stop in Smithers, check out a few options, and end up at the Glacier View RV park and a tent spot where we can gaze up at Hudson Bay glacier and some 7500’ mountains just south of us. Pretty awesome.
I email Swansons and let them know that we are going to take the time to actually “vacation” on this trip as well…we are going to drive about 175 miles tomorrow morning up to Stewart-Hyder on the Portland Canal of the Inland Passage. Stewart is in Canada and Hyder is in the US. Wonder if we have to go through customs again? J The scenery is suppose to be spectacular and we drive through glacier mountains to get there.
We set up camp at Glacier View (the site is a whopping $16 – there are some advantages to tent camping!), eat some dinner from our stash, and in general relax after a long day. I think bedtime is going to be early tonight. We are in the middle of a whole family gathering for a wedding this weekend! (Reminds us of our last week camping time!) The bride invited us to come up dancing on Saturday, but we had to decline as we will be gone. I love Canadian hospitality.
Total miles today: 519 – Cache Creek, BC to Smithers, BC.
Wildlife: bald eagle, fox, deer

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