Rockies, Prairies, Cariboo and the Wet Coast

I am writing this in Vancouver on Tuesday the 17th.

November 13 – More bison , caribou and two moose (meese??)

Liard Hot Springs

Liard Hot Springs

Liard Hot Springs 'A' Pool

Woke up around 7AM after a pretty good night’s sleep. Only got up a couple of times to pee; it’s amazing how much urine a person can produce when it’s cold outside. (is this oversharing?) I had to go to the outhouse and it was pretty cold out. One of these days I have to figure out how to use the portable shitter I bought at Crappy Tire. When I worked at Yukon Housing Corporation in the early 1990s, I used to say that our mission was to ensure everyone had a warm place to shit. I got that expression from Earl Butz, Reagan’s Secretary of Agriculture, who made some racist comment, but I always thought that wanting a warm place to shit was a pretty common human yearning. When I left Yukon Housing in 1993, the other employees gave me a toilet seat signed by everyone and emblazoned with the expression.

Anyway, I left the Hot Springs Park around 8:45 after washing the dishes. At the exit of the park there was this sign:

No shit Sherlock. The park is right neat the bridge across the Liard River, which flows into the Mackenzie, North America’s longest river despite what they teach in US schools. The Liard plateau, through which the river flows separates the northern end of the Rocky Mountains from the Mackenzie Mountains that form a large part of the border between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. This picture shows the extreme northern end of the Rockies.

More bison and caribou along the road. At Toad River, I stopped for a coffee, bought a t-shirt and finally installed the GPS, which ended up being a lot simpler than I thought it would be. What is interesting about the GPS is that it gives the elevation. I realized that the amount of snow on the road was a function of the elevation. The road ended up completely dry at Fort Nelson up to Prophet River. Elevation was in the 600 metre range. Beyond Prophet River, the road climbs into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, up to about 1,200 metres at the summit where the lake was frozen.

I finally did see a couple of moose crossing the road.



Then gradually down to the northwestern end of the prairies. By Wonowon (at mile 101 on the Alaska highway :-0) the road was dry again. Reached Fort St. John at 7:30 and decided to stay in a hotel rather than the camper. I had supper at a pretty bad Chinese restaurant.



November 14: Prairies, Pine Pass blizzard and Cariboo but no caribou

Mile "0" Alaska Highway

Mile "0" Alaska Highway

After breakfast, I headed to Dawson Creek at the southern end of the Alaska Highway. Took a picture, gassed up and got a BC accommodations guide at the museum/tourist information centre.I must be getting old as many of the “artifacts” in the museum were things I grew up with.

Dawson Creek grain elevator

Dawson Creek grain elevator

Dawson Creek (and Fort St. John) are at the northwestern end of the Great Plains. Although they are politically part of British Columbia, they are much closer to Alberta culturally and economically: gas producing cattle and canola country that voted for the Reform party, Canada’s wannabe Republicans.

From Dawson Creek, it got extremely windy and by the time I reached the Rockies, it started snowing.

Pine Pass blizzard

Pine Pass blizzard

Went over the Pine Pass in a blizzard and reached Prince George at 4:30 two hours later than I had originally estimated in the sunny prairies. I had supper at an Indian restaurant: saag panner (creamy spinach & potatoes in yogurt) which I had really liked a few years ago last time in PG. Went back on the road first to Quesnel and then to Williams Lake where I took another hotel room & bought a bottle of Beaujolais. Made a few calls using Skype: pretty cool and only 2 cents a minute for calls to North American phone numbers (Skype to Skype calls are free).

Quesnel and Williams Lake are in the Cariboo region, where there were a number of gold rushes in the 1800s, most of them bigger than the Klondike but little remembered as they did not have Jack London, Robert Service, Mounties, and Charlie Chaplin. No caribou left in the Cariboo, but lots of deer crossing signs. However, I only saw two dead deer on the side of the road providing a feast to the ravens.

November 15: Cariboo, semi desert and the Fraser Canyon and the Wet Coast

After phone conversations with Marilyn, Rick, Louise and Ariel, I headed out around 9:30. Went through the Cariboo, then the Fraser Valley around 100 Mile House where I stopped for Lunch. Nice sunny weather in the semi desert area. As I wound down the Fraser Canyon, it became progressively wetter so that by Yale, it pouring rain. My driver’s side wiper got screwed up and the metal was scraping against the windshield. I finally stopped and managed to fix it. I resolved to buy some new ones in Vancouver.

Got to Vancouver around 5;30 & reached Ariel & Jacob’s place. Chicken cacciatore pasta for supper. Slept in the camper that night as Rick, Ariel’s father, had priority.

Tallulah, Rick and Ariel

It was raining like crazy all night and the skylight in the camper was leaking. Luckily I was no under it like Malcolm & Rick on previous moose hunting trips. Couple of whiners. 🙂

Some of you might wonder why I went to Vancouver rather than heading more directly to Mexico via inland provinces and states (e.g. Alberta, Montana & south through Texas). Well there are a few reasons: first, I need an international Drivers License, which, as a Yukoner, I can only get from the BCAA. Second, I want to go to Oregon to check out the Pinot Noirs in the Willamette valley. My all time favourite wines are red Burgundies, especially from Gevrey-Chambertin (the original Pinot noirs). I want to see if Oregon wines come anywhere close. Third, I would like to go to Fort Bragg at the College of the Redwoods (probably North America’s prime woodworking school founded by Krenov) where Lymond Hardy is studying. I would also like to visit San Francisco, one of the two US cities I really want to see. (The other is New Orleans.).

Monday, November 16: Frustrating and soaked day in Vancouver.

Raining heavily most of the day; it’s not called the wet coast for nothing. Went to a travel clinic to get my vaccinations (I couldn’t get them in the Yukon because I would have waited until late November as they were too busy with H1N1 flu vaccinations. Unlike the rest of Canada, there was no problem getting flu vaccinations in the Yukon: I had to wait a full two and a half hours on the first day vaccinations became available, an I whined about it – I am in the priority groups as I had a heart attack and I suffer from mild COPD from 40 years of smoking.)

Anyway, they couldn’t vaccinate me right away at the private clinic I went to; I had to make an appointment and Thursday was the first day appointments were available. But they told me I could try calling later to see if there were any cancellations on Tuesday. I went to the BCAA where they told me their Internet connection was down and I would have to come back later or tomorrow, no idea when it would be up again. I also called an RV repair place, but they couldn’t fix the leak that day. I begged and they suggested I could bring the camper in later in the afternoon and they would take a look at it. To soothe myself, I went to Crappy Tire and bought some tire chains, wipers and a spare headlight.

I then brought the truck to the RV place. On the way back, I went to Chapters book store to look for Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries and Theroux’s Patagonia Express (thanks Carl for the suggestion). I bought the Motorcycle Diaries, but there were no copies of Theroux’s book in any Chapters store in Vancouver. I got totally soaked on the way home from the RV place as I forgot my umbrella.

Last night, I took Jacob & Ariel out to Piazza Dario restaurant at the Italian cultural centre. Excellent non-ethnic meal as always.

Tuesday 17th – Vancouver.

Got my shots @ 8:40, then went to BCAA and got my International Drivers Licence, went to Home Despot & bought some screws for the camper hasp/lock and a cheap Black & Decker cordless drill, and then to Crappy Tire for a propane tank fill indicator and a Haines manual for my truck (they had all the others in Whitehorse except for the one I needed. Says something about the popularity of the truck. Or maybe its need for repairs)

Went shopping with Ariel  Jacob and showed her how to make potato gnocchi and ragù. Two bottles of wine between the three of us and I am completing this blog entry, finally.

Hopefully, I will get going tomorrow and stay in some Walmart parking lot in Seattle.





3 Responses to “Rockies, Prairies, Cariboo and the Wet Coast”

  1. Bill Says:

    Glad to read your doing OK overall even though your truck is a piece of crap!!! I told you you should have used the one Anthony and I drove up to Whitehorse from Montreal last summer. Anthony is here with me as I am writing this message. He also thinks you got a few loose screws, but then again we are bought pretty sure you can tighten them up with your new drill and bits………


    PS; Anthony says to keep away from the lot lizards… (they are the old crack hoars with no teeth)

  2. Giuliano Says:

    Se ti trovassi nella necessità (ovvero il tuo pick up perdesse tutte le viti e le ruote) scrivimi un’email. Penso che entro una settimana, potrei farti arrivare il mio Pajero (per proseguire il viaggio )…..ovviamente, poi me lo rispedirai in Italia a tue spese e con il pieno di Gasolio…..

  3. del Says:

    Lui hope your warm and if I win the lotto I’ll be with you for the remainder of the trip. You could use a guy with all the skills I have.


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