Tag Archives: British Columbia

The Drive – Part 2

A fitful night of sleep had me up at 4:30am on Sunday, July 7th, reconsulting The Milepost.  After a high mileage input the day before, we were interested in having a bit of an off-day.  Only 60 miles down the road was an RV park which promised shower and laundry services, amenities we hadn’t accessed in four days and that, for me, held glorious appeal.

After a breakfast of pale eggs at Sasquatch Crossing (where I’d hoped to find some awesome commemorative mugs since I’d sold all of ours; no dice), we moved on down the road, looking for inviting respite from the drive.  We didn’t end up with showers that day, but found some peace and serenity at Buckinghorse Creek Provincial Park.  We even had opportunities to indulge in our individual hobbies: I made some small progress on my knitting, John had a few beers, and Silas analyzed the local terrestrial composition by caking himself in creek mud.

Feeling refreshed for Monday morning, we departed the campground with the intent of crossing the border into Yukon Territory and embarked on, in my opinion, our most epic driving day of the whole trip.  Up to this point, I was somewhat disappointed in the scenery British Columbia provided.  It wasn’t bad, to be sure, and gave me my fill of lush and green, with black spruce-covered rolling hills as far as the eye could see.  We had even seen a few moose at dusk on Saturday night.  But I had expected Whistler.  Majestic, jagged, snow capped peaks, dramatic valleys, thundering waterfalls, abundant wildlife.  What we saw was more tame and serene.  To be fair, we stuck mainly on the highway, and highways are generally placed on the path of least resistance, which is usually not compatible with “majestic, jagged peaks”.

As we approached the Yukon, though, things began to change.  We started to climb, and so did the mountain summits.  Finally, we saw some snow.  We stopped to grill some sausages for lunch at Summit Lake, and I finally felt like we’d reached somewhere wild, somewhere far enough north that we’d escaped the gravity of mainstream civilization.  After packing up the grill, we passed by Muncho Lake, which was such a radiant blue we has to stop and soak in the view.  After that, the wildlife started.  John narrowly missed a bellowing caribou and a Stone sheep and lamb.  Four bears and several herds of wood bison also crossed our paths. We crossed the border into Yukon Territory, and everything just got bigger.  I had a sneaking suspicion that Big Creek Campground, our planned destination for the night, was going to resemble a California river more than a creek, and it certainly did.  We didn’t even need to convince Pepper to stay out of it, and that dog is nothing if not a water dog.

ImageSummit Lake

ImageMore Summit Lake

ImageMuncho Lake

ImageBison crossing?! Yeah, whatever…

ImageOh.

Image“Yukon: Larger Than Life”. Sign speaks the truth.

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The Drive – Part 1

After 3 weeks of casual packing and 2 days of frantic packing, we left California on a Wednesday, the afternoon of July 3rd. The sum of our remaining possessions fit within the confines of our truck, boat, SUV, and trailer, with plenty of room to spare.  Our little caravan made its first overnight stop in Grants Pass, OR, with my mom, before heading for the international border and trying to leave the US, ironically, on the 4th of July. We drove the fairly straight line up I-5, seeing both Portland and Seattle as only a blur from behind camera lenses.

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Portland blur.

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Seattle blur.

Both John and I underestimated the gap between Seattle and the US-Canadian border, assuming they were a casual 30-minutes or so apart.  Seeing the “Vancouver, BC – 150 miles” sign going through Seattle gave us a bit of a reality check.  We were at least entertained along the way with almost 3 hours of holiday fireworks as we followed the sunset north.  We barely made it through the Abbotsford border crossing on our planned day after arriving there at 11:30 pm.  Additional delays, including having our boat and trailer inspected by dogs (we seem to put out the gun-toting vibe, despite never having owned a single firearm between the two of us), set us up for trying to navigate a new, international country, pulling trailers, at 2 am.

Our other underestimation was how different Canada would feel.  We expected “North Washington”, but it, in fact, felt like a foreign country.  All indications of culture and humanity, road signs, stores, were just a little off from from the usual, but a multitude of  small differences can lead to a large feeling of bewilderment.  Driving around outside of Chilliwack, BC, in the dark, without a decided destination, only that it be a place to sleep, ended miraculously in that we were never driving into oncoming traffic and we eventually found a not-illegal looking place to park on the side of the road for the night.

The next day, Friday July 5th, went much better.  We had breakfast at a Husky’s in Hope, and discovered that Canadian egg yolks are weirdly pale.  I found this to be true throughout our trip, regardless of the source of the eggs, restaurant or store-bought.  After breakfast, we headed north, hoping to find a nice place to camp for the night.  I noticed then that it wasn’t just the human-made aspects of Canada that felt different, but even the shape of the mountains and the trees weren’t quite what I was used to.  We traveled along a winding river road that made quite a few tunnel passes, and left the aforementioned trees and mountains behind.  We stopped for lunch in Cache Creek and experienced another culinary idiosyncrasy.  Our fried chicken pieces came with one bottle of ketchup and one of…vinegar?  The flavors made sense, but I couldn’t figure out how to apply a squirt of white vinegar to my chicken without having a soggy mess.

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We finally decided during lunch to begin consulting with our copy of The Milepost, the definitive source for all Alaska-bound travelers and their every need.  The great tome informed us that we weren’t far off from Green Lake, which promised campsites, outhouses, a water pump, and swimming, all for $16.  Also convenient was that the denomination could be either Canadian or American dollars.  Most places where we tried to pay with American cash happily accepted it straight across, though I’m pretty sure they got the better end of the exchange rate.

Green Lake Provincial Park proved to be a great choice for our first night of Canadian camping. The area was lush and green, and the lake was crisp and refreshing with a smooth, sandy bottom.  We threw some steaks on the grill, liberally applied our DEET, and chatted with some other campers, amusing ourselves with their Canadian accents.  When asked where we were coming from, John mentioned California, and was surprised at the reply of, “Oh!  I thought I detected a southern accent.”  Wow!  We have an accent!

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After a propane grilled bacon and egg breakfast, we began a planned high mileage day.  We totaled over 550 miles, but at the expense of having the worst Chinese food ever, our boat backed into a ditch, no camping spaces, and an eventual surrender to the day by sleeping at a rest stop.  You win some, you lose some.

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Yuck.  Not advised when in Chetwynd, BC.