Thursday, June 25, 2009

North from Banff

Monday 22nd – From Banff
We had mule deer wander beside the trailer, while we ate breakfast. There was one mature doe, who appeared gravid, a yearling doe and two yearling bucks. Their antlers were only 6-8 inches and covered in heavy velvet. The rain of the previous evening had stopped. The air was crisp and cool. However, we still had a full overcast. Before leaving, but after hooking up the rig, three elk wandered into the campsite. The bull had a radio collar and ear tag. They were not in the least fearful of people or their dogs. Chloe, at about 20 pounds, was eager to go “check out” the new arrivals, but I thought better of it.
The drive through Banff toward Jasper was somewhat less spectacular than the drive into Banff. Perhaps this was because of the cloudy and hazy atmosphere, which eventually became rainfall; or perhaps we just got jaded on viewing the huge mountains and sheer expansiveness of it all. We camped in McBride, BC, at the BeaverView campground. Diesel is $96.9 per liter, which is nearly $3.70 per gallon. Brenda and I bought some things at a small supermarket. The prices weren't too alarming – mostly about what you would pay at a convenience store. We got a birthday present for Sallie at a local artist's shop. We were unable to post any email, although we did download some (this had something to do with the BeaverView router setup. Fixing it was none of my business, but I was tempted to offer!).
Critters seen: mule deer, elk and a black bear. There are very few birds!

Tuesday 23rd – Early morning temperatures were in the mid-40s. We drove through monotonous forested mountainsides and saw very few animals. We camped at Azouzetta Lake Lodge, where they average 41 feet of snow annually. Well, Azouzetta has seen better days. The lake was beautiful with clear, cold water. However, the campsite did NOT have water, nor electricity. Actually, that was a blessing in disguise. I fired up the propane water heater – up until this night, we had used the electric water heater – and it didn't work. A little detective work revealed a mud dauber nest in the gas burner. Apparently that shorted out something, because there is a wire nearly melted in two. Part of the controls, I presume. No problem, we can heat water on the stove...except at that moment my propane tanks ran dry. I carry an extra 20gal bottle to run the outside grill, so I swapped out one of the empty tanks for the full one. Then, I noticed that the lights were getting dim. Battery check showed an almost discharged battery. Bob had a spare, so I swapped out batteries, too. I really don't know, yet, the cause of that failure. We stopped at an RV repair facility (labor @ $90/hr), but they were too busy to even look at it. BTW, Bob's heater didn't work either. So, the blessing is: we know we need to fix a few things before boon docking.

Wednesday 24th – We have been on the road for two weeks. Total mileage at the start of this day is more than 3,200 miles. We stopped for awhile in Dawson Creek to fill my propane tanks (the fella who filled the tanks is a lifelong resident of Dawson Creek, but his brother-in-law is from Baton Rouge!). We, also, drove past mile marker zero of the Alaska-Canada Highway. Brenda and Sallie shopped briefly at a WalMart (the first in two weeks), then we headed to a campsite at Pink Mountain. The name comes from a peculiar fall foliage. Unfortunately, the promised WiFi is not here. I was assured that “they are working on it”, but the expected delivery date is probably close to the human gestation time frame. So, it has been since Monday that we have received any email, and longer than that since we have been able to send any. Grandson Parker had a set of ear tubes inserted today, so Brenda had to call home to check that all went well – it did. Our drive today was more forested mountainsides. We did see one cow moose, Stellar jays, crows and ravens. The plan for tomorrow it to definitely get a campground with WiFi.

And, today, the 25th, we have WiFi! Our drive was in rain all day. Nonetheless, it was beautiful. In fact, driving into and out of the clouds, as we climbed over the 6,700 foot summit, was a series of "Oh, look at that" experiences. The forested mountains have given way to a different tree. It is still the same Spruce species, but appears definitely stunted. The explanation I was given is that the permafrost keeps all the trees stunted -- somewhat like a huge Bonsai forest! Streams are everywhere. I'd like to try fishing, but will wait until I get to Alaska to buy a license. I certainly don't need any more confrontations with Canadian authorities!

We are spending this night at Toad River, BC. This name, too, needs explanation. In the land of permafrost, toads are not common. And, in fact, the reptile has nothing to do with this place. Originally, one had to be towed across the river at this point. I guess spelling caused a lot of problems for the folks up here.

We saw a calf caribou beside the road today and a beaver. I think I saw an otter, but my attention was mostly on the road, not the roadside. Bought fuel at only $1.55 per liter, which is a paltry $5.89/gallon!

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