Canada continues…

Image from the Clinton Pines RV park that I stayed at the first night on the road. Sorry for the odd bright spot just off center, but I didn’t know it was there until later.  Its a reflection off of a metal container.  Nonetheless, it was a great little campground as mentioned in the previous posting.

Clinton Pines RV Park – Clinton, Canada

From Clinton northward had pretty much a sunny cold drive in the morning. The snow that was only on the higher peaks around Clinton and other areas in Southern British Columbia, became the norm all around. There was easily a couple of feet of snow on the ground without signs of drifting.  Bright white as could be and blinding in the sunlight was still pretty to behold.  Lucky for the folks in this region – all the signs of breakup were in force…  more so as I approached Prince George.  The muck, snow, ruts, fifth was more evident closer to populated areas.  I could only smile, as its been a few years since Alaska has experienced this kind of breakup – but breakup it is.

In Prince George, I got gas – same price as elsewhere in Canada. $1.26 per liter.  Note: I said liter, not gallons! I’ve seen it a whole lot higher over the years, but I had no complaints with this price on this trip.  But I did temporarily freak out when I saw a road sign 722 to Prince Rupert!  How in the world did I mis-calculate my miles so badly? Then it occurred to me, its not 722 miles, but rather kilometers. Whew!  
Also in Prince George, the anticipated rains started – it added nicely to the already mucky situation of breakup.  Not! Temps were hovering in the low 40ºF – so a nice cold rain mixed with breakup – I did not linger in town.  Heading West on Hwy 16 – the snow depth increased, far less breakup and by Vanderhoof – no breakup was evident. Downright chilly, but the roads were good, even with the rain. Saw lots of glaciating areas with water overflow, some encroaching onto the highway, but its apparent that road crews kept abreast of this.  No slushy, slippery areas that DriveBC had indicated. Delighted to discover that!
And onward… I was amazed at how different everything looks compared to full blown winter mode or summer mode.  So much I did not recognize, but knew I’d been this way before. Seasons sure do alter things.  Oh and I might add – having 14+ hours of sunlight alters things as well. I like to leave early in the morning at first light, then stop and enjoy the rest of the day without driving non-stop all day. Well… no clock in front of my eyes, I can drive quite a distance with all that sunlight, with sun setting about 8 something at night. Laughing here. 
And onward – there is nothing open.  Gas stations, yes. But no lodging. None of the Provincial Parks are open until May 1st, some not until June 1st.  Absolutely none of the private parks are open either.  Provincial Parks are the best place to stop when camping in Canada. Whether tent or RV – love these parks. They are better maintained then our National or State Parks in the lower 48. Most have no hookups, but some do. Sites are always clean, most are level.  And well, they are a great place to park.  But what is this girl to do, I was told in The Milepost that rest areas are illegal to park overnight and were unsafe.  Well… no where, none of the rest areas I stopped at, posted any sign to indicate it might be illegal to park overnight – nothing.  So that is where I parked at night.  
My 2nd night on the road, a rest area somewhere near Vanderhoof, but not at all sure where.  Nestled in the mountains was this frozen lake, the seasonal buildings across the lake with snow up to their roof’s and this little rest area with picnic tables, bathrooms and enough parking for my rig and I, found it to be quite comfortable.
Frozen lake
It was raining while I was parked here, but by sunset, that rain turned to snow. By morning, it switched back to rain.  I didn’t trust that the roads would be without ice, but soon enough truckers started passing by (my companions out on this road). But I still delayed leaving… decided to fix a bowl of hot muesli with dried cherries, flax seed, cinnamon, coconut shavings. Delightful filling breakfast with a steaming cup of Market Spice tea on this chilly morning.  A good way to meet the day.
At this point in my trip, I knew I would be going into the “hump” in the road, that DriveBC had indicated had all the slushy, slippery roads.  The roads were in good shape, even with the rain – that continued.  Zero problem.  Guess waiting the extra couple of days was worth doing, one just never knows.  I had allowed myself enough cushion to be stuck out here if need be, but that extra time is devoted to my present, more on that in a minute.
Once I passed Highway 37 N, it was all new territory to me, as I had never been to Prince Rupert. Also, this being in the “hump”, the road now follows the Skeen River, all the way to the coast.  Of course, nothing is flat in this region – lots of grades up and down. You will see the river way below to being right next to it (and you see road damage from past floods) – but the ever presence of the river is quite striking.  Some areas narrow with rapids that would give any rafter second thoughts, to broad expanses of the river.  Not only does the river hold your attention, but the mountains… I wish I had been a passenger trying to absorb all that I saw vs needing to pay attention to the road.
I stopped my 3rd night on the road at a rest area, with steep cliffs overlooking the river, except I did not know that until the next morning. The forest surrounding the rest area was so thick, no light could penetrate. Beautiful rest area!  The cats loved to listen as well as I.
Rest area, picnic tables
Note, no snow at this rest area.  It was also balmy enough to have slept with the window open. Think temp stayed in the 40’s (ºF).  The sounds of silence was so incredibly awesome. We soaked it in.  Your sense of hearing becomes so acute to every nuance of motion – it is really amazing to experience this. Love this, just love this. Then in a brief moment of time, a distance sound of a woodpecker pecking on a hollow tree somewhere in the forest. Rat-a-tat-tat. All three of us jumped to the sound. And the spell was broken. Beautiful…
And so we got ready to head down the road. I really didn’t want to leave that morning, yet I was excited to see what laid ahead. New territory, new things to discover… and guess what?  The rain stopped. Magical day…
The last populated town before hitting the coast was a place called Terrace. Interesting place, in that you are constantly crossing a bridge and multi-rivers are meeting the mighty Skeen River right there in Terrace. Lots of wood pulp mills too. Quite the bustling town.  Once I left town, I was the only one going my way. Nice. The first thing I recognized was the coastal mountains. I didn’t realize I was that close to the coast yet, but there is no question I was seeing the coastal mountains. Very distinctive.
I love these mountains..  The road thru these mountains follows the Skeen River, as does the railroad tracks.  Only two brief climbs into the mountains, otherwise, we were at waters edge. Stunning, no photos do justice to the magnitude of what one sees – with the mountains reaching to the sky from the waters of the Skeen river. No foothills, nothing to stop the climb to the sky. Some faces of the mountains are so vertical, I wondered if anyone has ever tried to scale them. Amazing.  Then the waterfalls – some so massive for the naked eye to see over such a distance are no less amazing than the little ones pumping out the rocks next to the highway. For miles upon miles of meandering road thru the coastal mountains, the sun was shining and the air was so refreshing… I had to stop at a rest area to soak in the flavor of it all.

Coastal mountains & edge of Sheen River

Funny that these photos show clouds, as the sun was shining where I was standing. The cement barrier at bottom of picture has moss growing on it.

Coastal Mountain & Sheen River

This was looking directly across the river from where I stood.  Out on the water were shore birds diving and sweeping across the top of the water in mass. I could almost hear the music as they danced.

Coast Mountains & Sheen River

What doesn’t show up in the picture is the giant waterfall cascading down the mountain on the left.  I guess I need a zoom lens…

Dark as it is, there’s a picnic table at left, at waters edge

One dirty Tiglax

This photo, as well as the one below, was taken at the same rest stop there in the coastal mountains area,  How bad my rig looked was not obvious until the sunlight hit it.  Guess what I will be doing soon?

Wet, dirty, mucky rig

And lastly, I made it to Prince Rupert yesterday afternoon. Prince Rupert has the flavor of the SouthEast Alaska fishing villages that I’m familiar with, but its in Canada.  The streets are almost too narrow for a RV to drive thru. Lucky for the RV driver, the locals know this and give wide berth. Laughing here.  I filled up on gas and went looking for the RV park that is listed in The Milepost,  not even sure if its open.  Its half way between the ferry terminal and downtown.  If its not open, I am clueless on where I will hang until Monday night. Saw no rest areas here. Nothing else is open for RV’s. So…

Sure enough, its open, but they claim to take credit cards, but they don’t have a machine. They want cash. They will take American dollars or Canadian dollars, but they don’t have a credit card machine. Its a little Chinese gentleman who does not speak very good English. Quite the challenge getting this transaction tended to.  Then he tells me he will give me a good deal on a space. What is the normal rate, I ask?  He said, normally $36 + tax per day. And I ask, what is the good deal he is offering me now? He says $30 per day, no extra on tax.  I took it. It has full hook-ups, but there shower and laundry building has no water yet.  I was just delighted to get full working hookups, I don’t care if laundry or shower is not available.  Its a clean RV park, the sites are perfectly level, a few shade trees, sites have plenty of room. The only negative – I’m parked right next to the busy road to the terminal. There’s a row of trees between me and the road, but it is noisy during the day, far less so at night.
This morning, as I looked out – heavy frost on the picnic tables, lawn and about a dozen or so deer grazing next to my rig. I could not get a picture, as my windows were fogged up (from turning on the heat this morning) and if I had opened the door, they would have scattered. So we just enjoyed the view.  Someone else must have made a noise, as all heads rose and full alert stance – then they ran.  Its nearly 11 am and the sun is just popping up over the mountain behind me. Yippee! Its suppose to be sunny all day.
So we are here until Monday, when I will move to the ferry terminal. I’ve been told I can park there at night, as the ferry departs at 4:00 am on Tuesday.  Hope this is true.  I can’t call, as my phone just on roaming. So will find out then, if not will deal with it when it happens.

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