A Travellerspoint blog

August 2019

Through to the End of August

Kenora, Thunder Bay, Rain

sunny 9 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 - The Journey Home on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

The Hodge Podge Edition:

The reality of long-trip travel is that not all days are stellar experiences. We’ve had lots of great experiences on our journey so far and the expectation is that these kinds of experiences will happen every day. Well NOT!

The last week or so has been windy, rainy and cold. This stretch of crappy weather has stymied, but not denied our access to the outdoors. We had thunderstorms in Winnipeg, followed by a 20+ hour steady rainfall, but in the 4 hours it did not rain, we managed a full hour walk along the flood diversion channel near our campground.

As we departed Arrowhead RV Park, at Ile des Chenes, south of Winnipeg, we met up with our travel buddies, George and Karmen Reid, who were just returning from a flight to Grande Prairie, Alberta. They had been traveling with their Airstream in the Dakotas and had come up to Winnipeg to catch a flight to attend family wedding anniversary. We had a great half hour chat alongside the road before heading off…them to the Dakotas, and us onward into Ontario.

Did we mention that Arrowhead is our favourite RV park on this trip? Really nice owners and the bathrooms are amazing…heated, bath mats and facecloths provided. Wi-fi is good as well and it was nice to be able to cozy up in TaJ and check out the next section of our travels.
We won’t have decent wi-fi again until after September 11, so blog updates will likely be spotty until we get to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula in Southern Ontario.

August 26

We arrived at Anicinabe RV Park, in Kenora Ontario mid-afternoon. The drive had just been a few hours and it was the only dry period we had this day. As we set up camp on the hillside overlooking Lake-of-the-Woods, the wind began to pick up and the rains started. We barely got done and it was a deluge that lasted until close to midnight. 50+ mm of rain fell in that short time, leaving us tucked inside TaJ.

Side Note on Cooking:

Normally all meals are cooked outside, on a camp stove on the picnic table. For this 6 day stretch of our journey it was too cold, wet and windy to cook outside. Normally our camp meals are semi-complicated affairs with at least two, sometimes three pots and pans being used.

We like to eat, but cooking inside a 125 square foot trailer leaves a lot to be desired. When the weather closes in like this we simplify; soups, sandwiches, salads are meals that are easy to prepare. So, Winnipeg was wet and windy, so no outdoor meals for 3 days and Kenora was the same.
It was nice to get our stove out and cooking again. Last night, pork chops, mashed potatoes and green beans!
Here is a shot of this morning’s breakfast, French Toast and bacon. Yummy

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August 27

We woke to a break in the weather, no rain, but still windy and cold. Our plan was to take the MS Kenora day cruise through the Lake-of-the-Woods. We walked from the campground into town, about 35 minutes of good solid walking to keep us fit. We wandered the very cute downtown area and discovered that the MS Kenora was not sailing today due to the ongoing crappy weather.

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Anicinabe RV Park is a community run park and the facilities are pretty decent. We have wi-fi, at least when the wind is not blowing, so let’s say we had about 30% coverage during our stay. Our site was excellent, on the edge of hill with Canada Geese, and deer abounding.

The weather turned again, as soon as we got back from our town walk and it rained continuously until the next morning. We contented ourselves with reading watching videos in TaJ. We don’t mind being pinned into our trailer by the weather. The heater keeps us warm and the fiberglass body of TaJ keeps us dry.

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August 28

We woke to almost blue skies on this our last day and our last opportunity to take the boat ride on the MS Kenora…alas, it was not to be. High winds were keeping the boat off the water this day. The sun came out for 5 hours in the afternoon and we wandered the campground, talking to the neighbours who had been just shadows in the mist and rain of the previous days.

During our walk, we got some photos of Husky the Muskie, a 30-foot tall replica of the fish that inhabits the Lake-of-the-Woods
Our interlude of nice weather was short and it was raining once again by dinner time. We bought a cooked chicken at Safeway and made a Caesar Salad to go with.

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August 29

Our drive today is almost 500 kilometers, to Thunder Bay. As this is the Labour Day weekend, we booked a site at Trowbridge Falls RV Park, a community run park. The drive across the Canadian Shield does not provide the most exciting scenery: rock, trees, rivers, repeat until you get to your destination. We share the driving, Jenny doing the middle two hours. Gas prices are shooting back up. $1.33.9 per litre in this part of Ontario. We paid just $0.98.9 last week in Saskatchewan.

The campground in Thunder Bay looks really nice, but it is only the surface. This place is in poor condition. The washrooms do not inspire anyone to have a shower. We rarely comment negatively on where we stay as most places put in the effort and can be overwhelmed by circumstances. But the lack of care here is way beyond most campgrounds. Here is the bag of garbage we picked up off our site on arrival. We will leave a note with management on our way out of here.

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Normally campgrounds have ravens, crows, or jays to police the campsite and beg for food. Here, we have woodpeckers. Really cute fellows and quite industrious.

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It was very quiet overnight and we fell asleep listening to the sounds of the falls on Current River.

August 30

We wake to 4-degree Celsius temperatures and the propane heater in TaJ warms us up. The cold morning also reminds us we need to top off our propane tank before heading off on the next leg along the shores of Lake Superior. We carry just one 20-pound (5 gallon) propane tank so we tend to keep track of our usage.

The long-range forecast for the first 10 days of September shows it will be cold enough that we will be running the heater.
We spend the morning shopping and looking around the city. We stopped for a sampler at the Sleeping Giant Brewing Company. We collect coasters from the breweries we stop at along the way as a reminder of places we liked on our travels. Here is a shot of some of our collection from this trip.

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In the afternoon we took a walk along the shores of the river that runs through the campground. We will do a hike tomorrow to finish our stay here.
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The next blog will likely be in 10 days time, once we have finished the 3 stops that will comprise our trip over the north shore of Lake Superior. After Labour Day weekend, the tourist season starts to wind down here in Northern Ontario. The weather can turn very cold and the first frost of the fall could happen at any time.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:02 Archived in Canada Tagged thunder_bay kenora Comments (0)

The Catch-Up Edition Aug 13-24

Telkwa BC, to Prince George, to Dawson Creek, onward to Elk Island National Park, then a two-day drive through Yorkton (Walmart Overnight) and finally to Winnipeg

rain 19 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 June 27 to Aug 15 & TaJ 2019 - The Journey Home on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

August 13 - Telkwa BC

We have used our stop here to get up to date with a lot of internet stuff. The wi-fi at Telkwa RV Park is amazing, the best we have ever had. In the morning we traveled in to Smithers to check the town out. We tried out a local brewery and did some shopping.

In the evening, back in Telkwa we walked into town along a seldom used path along the river. Local kids were jumping off the bridge into the river. We had an ice cream cone and strolled back to the campground. On the way into town we had noticed bear poop along the trail, but we are now used to seeing it. There is a lot of bears in Briish Columbia. Suddenly, off to our right and no more than 15 feet away we heard a snort and then a bear cub shot up a tree. We never did see mom but we heard her and got out of there smartly. Luckily we had not come between her and her baby. Gets the old heart rate up though!

August 14 - on to Prince George

We had booked an appointment with the local Honda dealer to get Sully a wheel alignment, if not more work. As you may recall, we have put the Honda Pilot over 450 kilometers of logging and mining roads in the past three weeks. The front end was making a few unusual noises, so we had booked an appointment for the 15th, in Prince George.

We set up camp at Hartway RV Park, in the north part of the city. A nice little campground. We have noticed in this part of BC that there is lots of vacancy at the RV parks. This one was barely half full and many of the people in the park appear to be here for work reasons, not pleasure.

August 15 - Prince George

We got Sully into the Honda Dealer for a 10:00am appointment. Two hours later we got the car back, with just a wheel alignment as the cost. The tech checked the car out and found that some rust on the front brake rotors had likely fallen into the brakes which was the source of the unusual noise.

We met up with an old work mate of Jenny's for lunch at the Dragon Stone Mongolian Barbeque for lunch. We had a good chat with Sue Perron over lunch. Sue and Jenny worked together in Moose Jaw back in the 1980's. We will continue meeting up with old friends throughout our travels this year.

August 16 - On to Dawson Creek

Jenny and I lived in Dawson Creek in 2005 so this was a bit like going home again. We really enjoyed our time in Northern BC and make some good friends. The town is set in a bit of a bowl and you can see it from several kilometers away. The weather was great on our arrival. One of the great things about this area is the size of the sky. It seems to go on forever. It was good we got to see it on the way in because the next two days were cold, foggy and rainy.

We stayed at the Mile 0 RV Park, which is actually at Mile 1 of the Alaska Highway. The town is the jumping off point for trips to Alaska and the Yukon. We have made the journey north three times in the past. The park has a number of RV's show up every night, and they take off on the long jaunt the new morning. The park is showing signs of wear and could really use an update. Most of the sites are not level which causes a lot of consternation for the big rig owners. You want your RV level...life is so much easier is you are not walking uphill to get to bed! :)

August 17/18 - Rain in Dawson Creek

It was a good thing we saw the open sky on our way into town, for by the morning of the 17th it was raining steadily and with very few breaks it rained right through both days. We barely left the comfy confines of TaJ, and our heater was working overtime to cut the chill and damp. It was 4 degrees both mornings.

August 19 - Last Day in Dawson Creek

The final day cleared by mid afternoon. We spent the evening with our good friends Al and Mary Mottishaw, whom we had known since our days living here. We had a great dinner of Halibut, caught by Al on one of his fishing trips to the coast. It was great catching up with them, and hopefully they will visit us in Nova Scotia next year.

August 20 - Beginning the trek eastward.

We left Dawson Creek early, for we have miles to go before we sleep. Our destination for day one of our trek is Elk Island National Park, about 35 kilometers east of Edmonton. The road is good, we share the driving, with Jenny doing about 3 hours in 2 stints and I covering the other 5 hours. Just outside Grande Prairie Sully reached middle age...he turned over 100,000 kilometers.

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They have great moose signs along the Alberta Highways:

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Otherwise, the road looked pretty much like this for the whole day:

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We cover 700 kilometers and arrive at Elk Island at 5:30pm. A quick supper and out to see the Bison. Barely out of the campground we come upon this beast.

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August 21

We spent the day at Elk Island. We went to the south part to try to see the Wood Bison, but they were off in the woods. Wood Bison are bigger than the Plains Bison that inhabit the north park of the park. The park staff told us that Elk Island is home to about 650 Plains Bison and 500 Wood Bison and combined, the two herds are the greatest concentration of pure bred bison in the world. Bison from here have been shipped to parks all over the world to improve the stock level of this once almost extinct animal.

We did two hikes over the course of the day, but they were marred by recent rains. The paths were muddy and difficult to navigate. We did get in a good walk though, which we need on the road.

August 22-23 - Yorkton Walmart, on to Winnipeg

Our goal for this period of time is to re-position ourselves for the coming month. We spent almost a month on the prairies while heading west in May and June and have plans to spend three months in Alberta and Saskachewan in 2021, so we don't need to dawdle on this journey. It is 1310 kilometers to Winnipeg and we are going to cover it in two days. We pound along HIghway 16 for 9 hours on the 22nd and arrive at the Walmart parking lot in Yorkton at 7:30pm. A light supper, a short walk to get the blood flowing in our legs and off to sleep we go. This Walmart is a great overnight stop as it closes at 10:00pm and does not open until 8:00am, so no overnight traffic.

On the morning of the 22nd we start with a 40 minute walk to get the blood flowing before sitting all day in the car once again. We don't do many of these two day jaunts, but we can certainly cover a lot of ground when we do them, By late afternoon we arrive at Arrowhead RV Park, about 25 kilometers south of Winnipeg. We stayed here on our way west and it was a great stop. Good wi-fi, reasonable prices and the best bathrooms of any RV park we have stayed at. Really nice owners as well.

August 24 - Day in Winnipeg

We have things that need to get done on this stop, We make a list and head out. Sully needs an oil change...done. We want to go to the Forks Market and get a walk in along the river. By noon we have a 5 k walk under our belts and are ready for lunch. On our walk we got a great photo of the Museum of Human Rights, which is well worth a visit if you come to Winnipeg.

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We missed the Trans Canada Brewing Company on our last visit, it was hemmed in behind road construction barricades then, but we get in there this time. Jenny had a Czech Dark Lager and I had a Lamplight Amber Ale.

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Back at the campground it was time to get our kit in order for the next leg of our journey. The long run across the prairies has come to an end. We covered 2100 kilometers since leaving Dawson Creek. So laundry is on the agenda for Sunday the 25th.

Beginning tomorrow, we slow down the pace and will spend the next 34 days in Ontario. Several stops are planned, and most of them will be three days or more at each stop. We have places to go and people to see. Life is good. We are happy and content to be on the road across Canada this year.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 14:10 Archived in Canada Tagged winnipeg dawson_creek elk_island_national_park yorkton prince_george Comments (1)

Environmental Sensitivity

Trying to tread as lightly as possible on good old Mother Earth as we travel the continent

rain 9 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 - The Journey Home on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

As this entry is being written, we are in Dawson Creek, noted for being Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway. This will be our last few days in British Columbia before heading east across the prairies. It is also a time for us to recharge a bit. Dawson Creek is a city we are comfortable in as we lived here for 18 months beginning back in 2005. We’ll check out some old haunts, visit some friends and relax a bit.

One of the things we wanted to do on this trip was to be environmentally sensitive, while still traveling to our heart’s content. Here is how we have done so far:

Gasoline:

We have traveled 14,600 kilometers since leaving home. Sully, our 2016 Honda Pilot, has consumed 2,373 litres of gas, at an average cost of $1.33 per litre. Each kilometer traveled has cost us $0.22 in gasoline. We keep really good track of our travel stats. We have towed the TaJ-ma-Haul, our 2017 R-pod Trailer for 10,035 k, the remaining 4,565 k has been local travel at our stops.
We do not use any drive-throughs. If we want to stop to eat, go to the bank, etcetera, we get out of the car, stretch and get some fresh air. We eat in restaurants, on plates whenever possible.

British Columbia has a “do not idle” law, but we see thousands upon thousands of vehicles idling away in the drive-through lane. A true waste of gas and the complete waste of the “do not idle” law.

We still have about 11,500 kilometers (or so) to get us home to Nova Scotia. The total cost of gas is about 20% of our travel budget and we do not feel this is excessive as we are towing our temporary home with us.

Coffee Cups:

We have used 5 disposable coffee cups in our 103 days on the road. Virtually every coffee on the road has been in our re-useable cups, or in china cups in coffee shops. We estimate we have saved about 275 disposable cups from being dumped into landfills.

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Disposable Water Bottles:

We have used 3 disposable water bottles. 2 were bought to add to our water supply when we went on a 5-hour hike in Grasslands National Park. The other bottle we picked up for a hike to the Carmanah Walbran. We have refilled our permanent water bottles daily, sometimes more than daily. We have kept the disposable bottles and re-use them if we need additional water for other day-trips.

We drink tap water in every community that we visit and have found the quality to be pretty good for the most part.
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Recycling:

Here is where RV parks and campgrounds are falling down a bit. Every community has different rules about recycling and it seems RV parks just take the shortest route. Almost all returnable bottles and cans are provided for, but after that it is pretty hit and miss. If we know where a local recycling depot is, we will use it.

Provincial and National Parks put in more effort to get people recycling and generally provide bins to cover just about all recycling needs.

Straws:

Recently there has been much ado about the use of plastic straws. We solved this by purchasing stainless steel straws that can be easily cleaned when we do dishes. We have not used a plastic straw since leaving home.
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Groceries and Shopping Bags:

We have a good supply of cloth shopping bags and take them with us on every shopping trip. For produce we either use a mesh bag or go without.
Wet produce, like lettuce, will force us to use a plastic bag, but we save these and re-use them when possible. We tend not to buy pre-packaged salads which comes with dressing and other condiments to add as these only increase the plastic waste.

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It is hard to find items that are not wrapped in single use plastic. Just about everything in the grocery stores comes equipped with its own plastic waste. We carry re-useable peanut butter jars and go to bulk food stores to buy things like, flax, brown sugar, flour, and so on without having to use plastic bags.

We try to purchase at service meat counters whenever possible and ask them to wrap our purchases in paper instead of plastic, but even that is difficult. The good thing about buying at service counters is we can get smaller quantities i.e. a single chicken breast, or piece of fish. We travel with a small fridge and buying even a package of 4 chicken breasts can clog up our shelf space.Deli counters always use plastic bags for sliced meats, cheese, etc. It is hard to avoid.

Garbage Bags:

We use compostable garbage bags, which come in a roll of 100, from Costco. Each bag costs us about 10 cents, but at least we know they will disintegrate in a landfill in short order. Since it is so hard to avoid single use plastic as virtually everything comes wrapped in some form of plastic that cannot be recycled, the contents of our compostable bags may never disintegrate.

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Summary:

We will continue our efforts to be as gentle on the planet as possible, while still continuing to enjoy our travels.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 14:09 Archived in Canada Tagged recycle reduce reuse Comments (1)

Part 3 - The long journey home

Planning, and planning some more.

sunny 22 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 June 27 to Aug 15 & TaJ 2019 - The Journey Home on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

As we write this entry, we are in Telkwa, BC, and we have traveled 13,750 kilometers in 98 days. We have a little over 50 days to go. In that time we will travel another 12,000 kilometers or so, making our total trip close to 26,000 k. Our gas mileage has been decent, at 16.5 litres/100 kilometers, or about 14.3 miles per gallon. We have towed the Taj-ma-Haul for 8,935 kilometers of our 13,750 total.

Here is a map of our planned route. Just a plan, we make make a left or right turn along the way if something catches our fancy.

Along the way we have many friends to stop and visit: in Prince George, Dawson Creek, Grande Prairie, Thunder Bay, Owen Sound, Exeter, London, Port Dover. It is always nice to stop and chat with people that have been part of our lives.

We have not reserved any campsites along the way, with the exception of Neys Provincial Park on Lake Superior, where we will stay over the Labour Day Weekend. A check of their vacancies revealed only about 10 sites(out of 150) un-booked at this point. Better to be safe than sorry over the last major holiday we will encounter along the road. While at Neys, we will get to Pukaskwa National Park, one of the few we have not visited in our travels.

We will scoot across the prairies on our way east. We plan to cross Alberta on our first day out of Dawson Creek. About 850 kilometers of driving. We have lots of plans in Ontario for our last full month on the road and plan to be back on the prairies in 2021 for an extensive visit so no need to dawdle. We'll stop for 3 nights in Lloydminster and another 3 in Regina and then do the last bit in 48 hours to get us into Kenora Ontario. We will do an overnight stop at a Walmart in Winnipeg on our way...always a fun thing to do.

We want to do the boat tour of the Lake of the Woods while in Kenora and we liked the town on our visit on the way out, but everything was still closed in late May.

The Chi-cheemaun Ferry, from South Baymouth, on Manitoulin Island, to Tobermory, on the Bruce Peninsula is another item we want to cross off the list. The Bruce Peninsula is amazing and well worth a 5 day stop.

At Point Pelee National Park we hope to see more of the Monarch Butterfly migration. We tried last year, but missed by a day or two the main migration. For those of you who do not know, the Monarchs gather at the tip of Point Pelee, where they hang in the trees until there is a wind from the north to blow them across Lake Erie on their migration to Mexico for the winter. Quite the sight to see.

After that we stop in Port Dover to visit an old work buddy of Jennys. After that we get to the business of getting home. Two 3 night stops and a night at the Walmart in Fredericton and we are home in Nova Scotia.

Sully, our 2016 Honda Pilot, is reaching middle age and is starting to show signs of wear and tear from towing our 2017 R-pod trailer, affectionately known as the TaJ-ma-Haul. In total we will have towed about 55,000 kilometers at the end of this trip. We worry about the light weight axle on the R-pod trailer, and tires are always an issue with a trailer that has a single axle.

We took delivery of TaJ in April, 2017, and will have slept in her for just over 400 nights in the 2 1/2 years we will have owned her. Not bad value for money when you think that a basic motel room costs an average of $100 a night. Traveling with the TaJ has also meant we could cook our own meals, saving bundles of money on food costs. The experiences so far have been amazing and we love our time on the road.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 07:32 Archived in Canada Tagged route_planning Comments (0)

Stewart BC Hyder Alaska

Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Salmon spawning

sunny 20 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 June 27 to Aug 15 & TaJ 2019 - The Journey Home on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

We departed the picnic area outside Prince Rupert bright and early on the morning on August 9. Our destination, Stewart BC does not have super amenities so we stop in Terrace to resupply with food and drink.

The drive in to Stewart was full of bear sightings; single black bears along the road right-of-way. This one posed for a picture:

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We were last here in August 2017. The photo of the Bear Glacier on the right is from that trip. The photo on the left is this trip. Can you see any differences:

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We arrived at Bear Creek RV Park in the late afternoon, and sandwiched TaJ into a spot between two giant fifth-wheel trailers, one from Georgia and the other from Alabama. It was the last spot available for the entire weekend. Lucky us!

The Annual Bear Festival was on in Stewart and we took in a movie about Grizzlies at the local Museum. We were both feeling a bit off from the long day on the ferry and lack of regular sleep. We crashed early in an attempt to get back on level footing. Even though we had a cabin on the ferry and had the chance to nap during the voyage, a short night’s sleep before boarding and a late evening arrival in Prince Rupert cut our regular sleep patterns. Jenny and I both sleep well, so one night was all it took to get us back to feeling normal by the morning of August 10.

We learn from local chatter that the grizzlies have not yet appeared at Fish Creek, outside Hyder, Alaska at this point. This is the one photo we got from 2017.

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When we were here in 2017 we were at the end of the grizzly feeding time; a week earlier they said and we would have seen our fill of grizzlies. So, for 2019 we decided to get here that precious week earlier, and what: No grizzlies have yet appeared in the river. We buy the three day pass for boardwalk access. The cost is $13 Canadian per person.

The thing about Fish Creek is you have to be patient and put in some time there. The boardwalk along the creek is about 600 feet long and gives you a wonderful view of the spawning salmon in the creek. The fish here are Chum and Pink salmon. The Chum males run as large as 30 pounds and the females about 20 pounds. They are easy to spot among the thousands of Pink salmon in the river. Pink Salmon rarely go over 6 pounds so the size diversity is dramatic.

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Over the course of two days we spend almost 5 hours on the boardwalk, in 4 visits. No grizzlies, just a single small black bear. The staff at Fish Creek think there was a bumper crop of berries in the highlands and the bears were still up there devouring them. Driving back to the campground, just across the border from Hyder we did see this black bear on the road:

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We drove up to the Stewart Glacier, the 5th largest in Canada and the largest that can be driven to. You can stop at the toe of the glacier:

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and then drive a further 10 kilometers to the top of the glacier:

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Beyond the top of the glacier the road continues and we went a further 6 kilometers up to find this tunnel through the mountain.

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After a 40 kilometer drive back to Hyder we paused at the US border marker for this picture:

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At the Canadian border guard station we came upon this little fellow greeting us at the Canadian border marker:

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The road to the glacier is as rough as any of the logging roads we drove on Vancouver Island. Sully, our 2016 Honda Pilot is beginning to show signs of wear and tear from a total of 400 kilometers of rugged logging and mining roads. These roads are beyond gravel and should be driven on only if you think your vehicle is capable of handling the really difficult conditions. We expect at least a wheel alignment is in our immediate future!

We left Stewart on August 12 headed for Telkwa BC and a two night stay at the Fort Telkwa RV Park. We have heard great things about their wi-fi and we certainly need access. As I write this I can assure you that this campground is good, darn good. 5 stars.

On the way to Telkwa, we took in the totem poles at Gitanyow, and the museum as 'Ksan. Here are some photos from there.

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We move on to Prince George and Dawson Creek in the coming days. Our next blog entry, perhaps later today, will be about the road ahead and the route of our journey home. We expect to arrive back in Millville Nova Scotia somewhere around October 5. We are at day 98 of our journey for 2019. The days on the road have been fun and we have truly enjoyed the experience so far. We still have more adventure in us.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 11:17 Archived in Canada Tagged stewart hyder_alaska bear_glacier stewart_glacier fort_telkwa_riverfront_rv_campg Comments (0)

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