ONE MONTH IN A BEAR
By Dale Wendel
August 16, 1991
The golden brown hills of drought-plagued California are a strange
prelude to the glaciers and greenery of the Yukon. Jodie and I are
at long last on our way to Alaska in our motor home, Bear. (For
reasons lost in family mythology, all of our vehicles are named.
Bear's predecessor, for example, was another fine Lazy Daze motor
coach named Knute.)
Interstate 5 is a boring thread that leads up the central valley of
California. After a belated 2:30 pm departure from Hawthorne, I5
leads us to the artificial community of Santa Nella for our first
night's stop. Since I5 didn't follow any established highways,
there were no existing towns along its path. Santa Nella consists
of gas stations, motels, and fast food places. There is also a
large commercial trailer park with attached campground. This is
where we spent the first night.
After the heat of the day, the evening was delightfully cool with
a strong wind coming down from the hills that separate the valley
from the coast.
Today I5 leads us out of the central valley to the "green" of
Oregon. California's drought has also reached Oregon, although the
freeway interchanges are still green, due to irrigation.
The boredom of I5 may be relieved in many ways. One is to listen
to the truckers conversations on the CB. Topics include, their
trucks, the "seat-covers" on cars passing them, their trucks,
wives, love lives, how terrible the four wheelers (ordinary people
in four-wheeled cars) are, how bad RVs are, and, most importantly,
where Smokey is.
After a great deal of difficulty, we found our second night's
camping spot near Cottage Grove. We are in Schwarz campground,
just below the dam of Dorena Lake. The Corps of Engineers is
allowing us to spend the night. Since this is the weekend there
are many families with many kids sharing the park with us.
Finally through the horrendous traffic of Olympia, Tacoma, and
Seattle. Almost solid traffic up to the border. But, at last, we
are at the effective start of the trip! It took almost an hour to
get across the border, since there were many Canadians returning on
this Sunday afternoon, all with full gas tanks. The little town on
the US side of the border seems to be mostly service stations,
especially close to the border. The Canadians are all too well
aware of the price of gas in their country. We soon would be.
Our plan to spend the night at the first convenient provincial park
was thwarted since it was full. Rather than relaxing with a Scotch
and soda, we drove on through the spectacular Thompson River canyon
until almost 8 pm when we found lovely, nearly empty Skihist
We have been surprised by the heat, but learned that the town of
Laytton is known as the warmest place in Canada.
Our guide for this trip is MILEPOST. This is an annual publication
that provides detailed descriptions of all the major routes,
including the west approach route that we are taking. Everything
is keyed to exact milage from the ends of each route. Identified
are rest stops, campgrounds, commercial establishments, and scenic
Today was much better. As befitting the "first day of the trip" we
had a rather leisurely departure of 9:30 after a hike along the old
wagon trail. This was a freight route to one of the 19th century
gold camps. Over the last two and a half days we made 1500 miles;
today we did 257, or whatever the equivalent number of kilometers
Speaking of kilometers; being Canada, everything is metric. The
speed limits are stated in kilometer/hour, the distances are in
kilometers. I am becoming adept in multiplying by .6 which is the
number of miles in a kilometer. Culture shock is watching the
gasoline pump indicate 99 somethings when filling up, although this
proves to be only 25 gallons upon later conversion. There is,
however, no recovery from the price of $55 Canadian.
Some minor irritations: the Dometic refrigerator continues to fail
when running on propane. I took it to the repair place twice
before we left to get the problem fixed but it is not.
The Chevrolet cruise control continues to fail. It has been in for
repair at least three times. Since the mechanics can't duplicate
the failure and since they cannot accept my observation that it
fails repeatedly they never attempt to fix it.
We are camping tonight at Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park. Befitting
our now being on vacation we stopped at 3 this afternoon and had a
nice walk followed by a delightful shower in Bear. We must average
249 miles each day to reach Valdez by next Tuesday morning to catch
This part of BC is pleasant, green, rolling, and covered with many
ponds and lakes. This may account for the number of boats seen on
campers. We feel out of place without a boat on the motor home.
The roads are good, straight where the terrain allows, and provided
with generous passing lanes mostly on hills.
Tonight we are at Seeley Lake, another Provincial Park. We left
the Western Approach and traveled along the Yellowhead Highway
today. The name "Yellowhead" comes from a blond, French voyager
who trapped here when the white men first entered the area. The
road wasn't quite as good as we have experienced so far. Rougher,
in poorer repair, and with few passing lanes. There is a lot of
repair and replacement going on.
One interesting thing that we saw was an asphalt recycling machine.
This assembly of stuff is moving steadily down the highway,
gobbling up the old road, reprocessing it, and putting down new
road as it goes.
All parks we have been in so far in BC have had ample supplies of
free firewood. This leads to consumption. Even on the very warm
days of the trip we have seen people start their campfire as soon
as they are in their site, and keep it going all the time, even
people in campers who are cooking inside.
Speaking of temperature; the last two days have been cool. Last
night we had showers and today we had light rain a lot of the time.
Tonight is showery.
I installed a hardware cloth screen on the front of the motor home
covering the headlights and the radiator in anticipation of the
gravel coming up. This screen has collected quite a number of bugs
so far. As soon as we stop, the local hornets begin eating the
fresh "meat" out of the screen. They seem to be keeping it well
This is our fifth trip to AK-land. The first was a cruise up the
inland passage to Skagway, then the Yukon & White Pass train to
Whitehorse, bus to Dawson City and Fairbanks, train to Dinali and
Anchorage, and plane home. The second was via Alaska State Ferry
to various cities culminating in a hike of the Chilcoot Trail out
of Skagway. The third was by air to Barrow and points south, then
back home. The fourth was last Thanksgiving to see what winter is
like (cold!) We took the ferry to Haines, then flew to Anchorage
for a visit, and then flew home.
So far we have encountered three different people whom have driven
the Cassiar. They universally say they will never do it again. It
was the roughest road they have ever taken. Usually people
complain of dust. Since it is raining the Cassiar is muddy so they
complain of the mud. We are beginning to doubt our decision to
take the more beautiful Cassiar. Oh well, tomorrow the dread
The dread Cassiar was a pussy cat!
The transition from "getting there" to vacation travel continued.
Today brought the first glaciers. In spite of all the tales of
horror, the road was pretty good. The first part to the Stewart
junction and into Stewart was quite good.
The side trip to Stewart was by far the most scenic of the trip,
even though the rain brought low clouds with it. The scenic vistas
weren't there, or at least they were hidden behind clouds. We went
back to the US today, just to mail a letter. Hyder is a small town
in Alaska accessible only by road from Stewart, BC, or by Alaska
State Ferry twice a week. It is so oriented to BC that they don't
have US currency there. There is, however, a US Post Office which
we used to mail a letter without having to buy Canadian stamps.
We are in a private campground tonight, called High Watermark. It
lies at the end of Tatogga Lake. We have reached the end of the
gravel although there is supposed to be some more construction yet
The owners' son taught us about "loonies" when we paid for the camp
site. These are Canadian $1 coins that feature Queen Elizabeth II
on the face. Is this some kind of slap at the Crown, calling the
coins "Loonies?" Not really. There is a nice rendering of a loon
on the obverse.
This is the first camp we have encountered since entering Canada
that has a telephone. I finally was able to access the Phonemate.
It told me that it had 11 messages but then jammed or failed when
it tried to replay them. Phonemate's already low quality level
seems to have now reached abysmal levels.
MILEPOST erred. There was a lot more gravel and very little
further construction before we reached the Alcan. (Actually it
isn't the Alcan anymore, just the Alaskan Highway.) The further
north we go the poorer the road. Even the paved parts are rough.
Bear had at least a quarter inch of mud solidly covering the back.
The sides and underneath also have a liberal coating. We bought
gas at the junction with the Alcan at a station that has a free
Sani Station. Actually you just go into their campground and use
any site. I had to hose off the dump fittings so I hosed off the
back at the same time. It is by no means clean but we can see out
of the back door a bit.
In summary, the Cassiar was not as bad as we thought it could be,
even before we talked to the people. It didn't seem like we drove
the same road that they did. It had rough spots but it had
gorgeous mountains, lakes, and streams. I would have no problem
taking it again.
We are in a Yukon Territory campground along the Rancheria river,
named, strangely enough, the Rancheria Campground. There is a
commercial campground right next door. There is only a very small
sign indicating the entrance to this camp and a rather large,
misleading sign going into the commercial place.
This is one of the older style Canadian campgrounds. There is a
covered cooking area with wood stove. This is for communal use of
the campers who don't carry their shell on their backs like we do.
Since the scattered showers continue I think the place will be
used. In fact, a couple just drove up and are preparing supper
Oh, one other excitement. After we got parked this afternoon we
went for a walk. The interior of the motor home smelled of propane
upon our return! With memories of the motor home that exploded in
Mexico, I went searching. Eventually found a leaking coupling in
the oven control for the stove. I cannot tighten it enough to stop
the leak but it stops if the oven pilot light is not on. I guess
we could light the leak whenever we want to use the oven.
OH, THE TRAFFIC AND CONGESTION! We have come to the "capitol" or
administrative center of the Yukon Territory, Whitehorse. The
streets are crowded and one must wait to make turns and watch for
people in crosswalks. We got here around noon and decided to stay
at the Trail of the '98 RV Park at the North edge of town. We
checked in, hooked up, and set out for town. We were going to walk
but one of the owners' sons gave us a ride.
Found a basic veggie restaurant for lunch, consisting of excellent
cheese-cauliflower soup which we augmented with some deep-dish
apple pie ala mode. The pie toping seemed to be granola. Quite
We also toured the S.S. Klondike, a restored stern-wheeler that
used to ply the Yukon River between here and Dawson City. The
construction of roads spelled its doom. Now it rests on the river
bank complete with actual, simulated cargo. Very interesting.
(Strange how the expenditure of public dollars has destroyed
private enterprise here in the Yukon. The stern-wheelers that
plied the rivers failed after roads were built. The Yukon and
White Pass Railway failed after the road was built into Skagway.)
Our intended wander about town and stroll back to the camp was
terminated by very dark clouds and rain. We called the RV park and
they sent someone out to pick us up. I fixed the propane leak with
some teflon tape from the hardware store. It didn't really rain
very much. The very heavy layer of mud that we picked up today
didn't get washed off at all.
We both enjoyed a very long, hot shower in the park showers. With
all of the rain and the water all over the place, it was nice to
not feel guilty about standing in a hot shower and just enjoy it.
After all the tales of horror about the Cassiar, the worst road was
a repaired section on the Alaskan after Watson Lake. There was one
stretch of pure, gooey mud that heavily coated Bear. The driving
was, for the first time, difficult.
Back to the USA! We have crossed over the border into Alaska and
are about 300 miles away from Valdez with two days to get there.
The final 100 miles of roads in Yukon Territory were pretty bad.
It was not safe to exceed 45 and usually 35 was better.
The scenery today was probably the best so far. We drove along the
"Icefield Range" which was spectacular even though much of it was
covered by clouds at times. The road takes a long course along the
shore of Lake Kluane. We first stopped at the visitor center for
Kluane National Park in Hanes Junction but couldn't see much (see
"clouds" above.) There is, however, a very good little bakery
right across the street from the visitor center. We picked up our
midmorning snack plus some wiener-filled, freshly baked buns for
The next visitor center in the park we encountered was Sheep
Mountain on the shores of Lake Kluane. Strangely enough, we saw
sheep on Sheep Mountain. They move down in the fall.
Speaking of sheep reminds me; we have seen little wild life on the
trip. In addition to the one with whom I am traveling, I have seen
one other fox, two coyotes, the sheep, a rabbit, and the back half
of something. We have seen quite a number of birds, though.
The only irritation today was the surprisingly long wait at the US
border crossing while the border guard hassled two teen-aged girls.
Theirs was the only car in front of us. Although there were three
other inspectors in the office, both they and we sat while the one
working inspector hassled the girls. Eventually they were allowed
to proceed and then we went through in about 30 seconds.
My reintroduction to the Indian culture reminded me of Raven, the
trickster. I have realized that the people warning us of the dread
Cassiar highway were simply Raven in one of his many manifesta-
tions. He assumed the form of these people to trick and confound
us. Eagle must have been watching since Raven did not succeed.
Tonight we are camping on the shores of Deadman Lake in a US Fish
and Wildlife service campground. This is part of the Tetlin
National Wildlife Refuge. Apparently birds are the only wildlife
allowed refuge. Both animal hunting and trapping are allowed here.
I think that the name "Deadman" came from the first person to come
here without adequate mosquito protection. There are clouds of
them around Bear. Jodie went out for a brief walk. I don't intend
to set foot outside of the motor home except to pick up the
leveling blocks when we leave tomorrow morning.
It is once again raining. I don't think that it will rain hard
enough to clean the mud from Bear. We picked up some very thick,
tenacious mud at a construction project just after we got on the
Alcan Highway. Perhaps we will find a pressure car wash during the
next two days.
As we moved on down the road today, the rain stopped. It was
replaced by snow! Someone in a store told us that winter is
supposed to be three weeks early this year. I hope it doesn't
arrive while we are here.
Wasn't much scenery to be seen behind all the low clouds. The
road, which was very good after we crossed the border has become
variable with big, shock absorber testing dips (called "frost
heaves") at random intervals. In general they have been a bit
better than in Canada.
We are in a commercial "camp" which is actually a salmon-fishing
resort during the season. It is called the Klutina Salmon Charters
and is on the Klutina River. The facilities are rudimentary and
muddy. We did eat at the historic old Copper Center Lodge here in
Copper Center. We were expecting salmon and other fresh fishes on
the menu. It leaned heavily toward steaks and beef. This is
probably due to their clientele which seem to be pipeline repair
We have 93 miles to go to make Valdez.
The 93 miles to Valdez was more like 122 with all our messing
around. We took the Richardson Highway which, even with all the
low clouds and rain, is the most beautiful of the trip. The road
follows one braided river up to the pass and then another down.
There are glaciers and majestic mountains all over the place. We
walked almost up to the Worthington Glacier. We could have
actually walked on it if we weren't so lazy.
We turned off on the road that goes the Aleska Marine Terminal on
our way into town. It was supposed to be scenic, and it was. What
wasn't stated anywhere is that there is a large camping area all
along the road. It has a 30 day limit but there seems to be little
other regulation. I believe that it is populated mostly by
fishermen since the inlet is reputed to be a good spot for salmon.
Our camping location tonight is not a free one. We chose a
commercial camp in "downtown" Valdez. We want (need) to make our
way to the ferry terminal at 6:30 am tomorrow, we want to stroll
the downtown area, and we want to go to a restaurant tonight
without having to move Bear.
Valdez isn't much of a town, but most small Alaskan towns aren't.
Probably as an expression of the Alaskan "spirit", there is little
regulation or control. There is a very nice museum here and the
people we have encountered so far have been friendly. Perhaps I am
looking at Valdez with a jaded eye, based upon the Exxon disaster.
Speaking of that, the museum doesn't try to hide it or play it
down. There is a cartoon posted showing the Exxon clean-up team
swinging in to action after the spill - one little man with a mop
and bucket staring at Prince William Sound.
We asked for a restaurant recommendation from a rather large woman,
seemed that she would like to eat well. She told us that the
Westmark Hotel restaurant wasn't good, that the Pipeline Club was
ok but quite smokey. The best place, according to her, was the
Pizza Place. Armed with sketchy directions, we eventually found
that it was right next to our campground. Turns out that the owner
is Greek and the menu features Italian, Greek, and Mexican food.
Our Italian meals were quite good.
Today we traveled by ferry and train, and finally drove into
Anchorage. We arose at 6 am to get in line for the ferry departure
at 7:30. The MV Bartlett seemed incredibly small to accommodate
all of the cars are RVs lined up for the passage. We all fit. In
fact, even the standby people got on board.
The rain that has accompanied our last week came on the voyage. In
spite of this we had an excellent visit with the Columbia Glacier.
We arrived in Whittier and drove directly from the ferry 1« blocks
to the railway yard. The only access to Whittier is by ship,
train, or plane - no roads. It came into existence to serve as a
petroleum and freight port and the southern railway terminus.
We sat for an hour then boarded the flat cars. Eventually the
train departed and took us through the tunnels to Portage. It is
a strange feeling to be traveling along but not have to drive the
vehicle. It could be a nice way to travel.
This will be the last of this for the remainder of our visit to
Anchorage. We had an excellent supper tonight at Jans.
Today is packing day. Yesterday was Beth's last day of work
although she is back there right now saying good-byes. It has been
an eventful visit! Can I remember it all?
We started out last Wednesday by going to the Alaska State Fair in
Palmer. It reminded me of a cross between a PTA carnival and the
Henry County (Iowa) Fair. There were face-painting booths, snow
cone booths, and all sorts of food. The wind became unpleasantly
strong while we were there so we didn't mind leaving after a couple
of hours. Did get to see some of the legendary Matanuska Valley
giant vegetables, though.
We came back and looked for the Native Medical Center Gift Shop.
We found it just after it had closed for the day. Our first stop
Thursday was there where we spent too much on beautiful ivory
carvings. The objects for sale there are created by natives and
sold for payment of their medical treatment, perhaps also to make
a little money.
Our plan for the day was to hike the trails along Turnigan Arm a
bit to get warmed up for the trip into Crescent Lake. The trails
were all closed because of a bear attack last week. We wandered
around a bit, visited Potter marsh and watched salmon spawn, then
headed for a park. We ate our hike lunch in the car in a parking
lot. An Anchorage cop came by and suggested hiking the costal
trail and told us how to find it. We followed his suggestion and
had a beautiful hike under the approach for the airport. After
days of looking we finally saw a moose, actually two, a mother and
Friday was the start of the big weekend. We drove to Girdwood and
had breakfast at the Girdwood Bakery, very good. Then we drove on
down the Kenai Peninsula toward Homer. Shortly after the road
forked to Seward we turned off on a dirt road for 4 miles to the
trail head. At 2:30 pm we started up the trail.
Our goal was a Forest Service cabin that was 6.5 miles in plus 950
feet of elevation gain. We got there around 6 and found a
beautiful cabin on a splendid lake. These cabins are quite common
around Alaska. Many are accessible by boat or plane only. The
cost is $20 a night. This one had sleeping room for 6 or 4, a
terrific little cast iron stove, storage shelves, a table and
benches, a splitting maul, saws, brooms, cut dry wood. It was
tight, in excellent condition, and bug proof.
We had a special treat. The Northern Lights put in an appearance.
This was the first time that either Jodie or I had seen them.
We hiked out the next morning, leaving just after a float plane
landed on the lake to deposit some campers. I felt guilty when we
rode the San Jacinto Tram to within a few miles of the camp ground.
How would I feel being flown into a lake with a cabin? (Great!)
Our lunch stop was a bridge about half way out with a gorgeous view
in any direction. All in all, the hike wasn't too difficult for
the two older hikers and it was beautiful. After not backpacking
since 1989 it was nice to get back into it - especially after my
adventure with the balloon last May. (I'm sure my two companions
didn't worry at all about me on the trip.)
After reaching the motor home we drove on toward Homer, the "end of
the road." Since it was Saturday of the Labor Day weekend we
anticipated that the camping areas in Homer, although not nice,
would be full. So we stopped at Stariski Creek campground, about
20 miles out. It started raining so we didn't get out much. The
view of the volcanos, Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Iliamna, was obscured by
We breakfasted at the Express Sourdough Bakery in Homer. The place
started as a portable bakery in an old delivery van. The owners
worked their way to Alaska selling bread they baked in the van, out
of the back of the van. The van now resides in a place of honor in
the front of the parking lot.
One of our indulgences or interests while traveling is grocery
stores. Since little else was open, we spent most of our free time
after breakfast going through the Eagle store. In addition to the
usual stuff they had souvenirs. Soon it was time to board the
ferry to Soldovia. The small boat harbor is located on The Spit,
a narrow finger of land that is several miles long pointing out
into Kachemak Bay. It is probably similar to the barrier islands
on the east coast. Contained upon it are souvenir shops, a city
campground, souvenir shops, snack shops, restaurants, souvenir
shops, charter operations, and smack-dab on the end a hotel and
The ferry was more than a ride, it was a scenic tour narrated by
the captain who had lived in the area for 44 years. After an hour
or so we arrived in Soldovia. Anne McKenzie's Boardwalk Hotel was
about a block from the dock, right on the harbor. It is a modern,
clean hotel. She encourages her guests to leave their shoes at the
The town is rather small and with the depressed market for salmon
getting smaller. We hiked a trail that started behind the high
school and that was built by the students. It lead through the
dense woods to a beach, then around a point, across a tidal inlet,
ending on another road.
Our scenic ferry ride over was such a pleasure that I was expecting
the airplane ride back to be anticlimactic. Far from it! We flew
in a small Cessna never higher that 1,000 feet, except when we
skimmed over a pass. We flew up the coastline over many bays and
inlets, up over the pass, where we saw a female moose, and finally
up over a glacier. The pilot turned near the top then skimmed
down. I felt like I was on a sled. Then it was back to Homer and
lunch at the Express Bakery.
Upon the arrival of Labor Day, the shops close, the restaurants go
on reduced hours, and process of rolling up the sidewalks for the
After a brief go at the few souvenir shops remaining open it was
back up the road to the trail head where Beth picked up her car and
went on back to Anchorage. We turned south for Seward. While in
Homer, I made reservations for a Kenai Fjords cruise for the next
Since the silver salmon are currently running, the bay in Seward
was lined and covered with ardent fishermen. I say ardent because
it was cool and cloudy and no one was catching any fish. We parked
in a city campground along the bay and watched them until it was
dark. In that time we saw one fisherman get lucky.
The rain started during the night. When we reported in for our
cruise at 7 am we found that the all-day cruises were canceled
because of high winds and waves out in the ocean, so we took the
half-day cruise which stays in more sheltered waters. It was ok
but limited because of the fog, clouds, and rain. The best part
was that we saw many puffins.
Now the packing is almost complete. We pack Beth's car today and
go pick up the tow dolly. Then its off to Big D.
We pointed our noses south to escape the approach of Old Man
Winter. (In truth, we pointed our noses north-east; the way south
from Anchorage goes up around the Wrangle mountains. We must go up
to Tok before we head south.)
In the approximate week and a half since we passed through here
Fall has arrived. Even in the gray rain clouds the intensity of
the colors almost hurts the eyes. Most of the trees and plants
have turned yellow. Interspersed are the still-green fir trees and
some occasional reds.
We departed Anchorage around 11:30 with Dorian (Beth's car)
trailing along behind, Walter driving. My concerns about towing
the car on a dolly have been mostly allayed. You can certainly
tell that the added weight is there, both going up hill and in
braking. Our first mileage with the tow was around 9 mpg.
Tonight we are camped at the Eagle Trail State Park. It is, of
course, raining. Here the yellowed leaves are falling. People say
that winter will be three weeks early here. Good to be heading
We have regained early fall. In actual fact, we pointed south when
we reached Tok two days ago. Since then we have headed south-east
until today when we headed boldly south. At Eagle Trail the leaves
were falling. We drove south and rejoined the birds that had left
Alaska; the leaves are just beginning to turn, and certainly not
falling from the trees. We stayed, again, at Trail of 98 camp-
ground in Whitehorse.
I believe that there is some bad publicity about the Cassiar. The
construction projects on either side of Watson Lake, plus the
general quality of the road for a long way "south" of Watson Lake
is very poor. Perhaps the Cassiar has poor road longer but the
famed Alaska Highway isn't especially good.
We stayed at Muncho Lake provincial park last night. Two moose
were feeding as we drove into camp. I succeeded, sort of, in
backing the tow dolly and Dorian with just a slight curve.
The next morning we drove though incredibly beautiful mountains.
Driving down the road we first encountered stone sheep, then a
mother and two yearling caribou eating salt off of the road. About
a mile further on we encountered a bull and his harem eating salt
from a gravel pit. There must have been 20 caribou.
As we continued south we rejoined civilization. We left the
Alaskan Highway and are now on the Hudson's Hope Loop. We did this
to pass through the Jasper/Banff National Parks.
Now we have farms and towns and radio stations - and traffic.
After trying a dead-end free park and experiencing the joys of
backing up this affair in a tight space, we opted for a commercial
camp, Harv's, beside a lake. We are the only people here. We are
parked on grass right next to the lake, a very pleasant location.
It is sufficiently bug-free that we enjoyed cocktails at our picnic
table by the lake.
As the day progressed the land became more cultivated, seems like
we are getting down on the flats. Went to a grocery store in
Chetwynd and bought fresh doughnuts for breakfast. A lot of
driving brought us to very spectacular Mt. Robson Provincial park.
We buzzed on through to get to Jasper. We encountered a line at
the campground entrance. We forgot that the public employees are
on strike and that only one campground is open in the park. They
had no provision for pull-throughs so we headed back to Mt. Robson
and stayed in an almost empty camp, Lucern. I again had to back
into a site but we found one with straight alignment with the road
so there was no problem.
Back to and down thru Jasper and Banff National parks. The scenery
is spectacular; massive, soaring, contorted mountains and a lot of
receding glaciers. Of course, all park facilities are closed. We
got into another dead end road because of this today. With some
effort we were able to get this affair turned around.
While driving south through the park we found a traffic jam on the
road, actually a bear jam. A large grizzly was strolling down the
river valley adjacent to the road. He occasionally stopped to dig
for food. Eventually he came to a branch of the river. he stopped
to bathe, then proceeded on down the valley. The traffic jam
flowed down the road with him.
I actually got to see Lake Louise today. Twenty years ago when we
were here there was so much fog that all I saw was the shore. The
scene around the Chalet at the lake is almost better to watch than
the natural scene. The area is packed with tour groups, German,
Japanese, and American (US and Canadian.) Everyone seems to be
taking pictures in all directions, many using video cameras. These
people must narrate their pictures which leads to scenes of people
apparently talking to themselves. The manner of dress varies from
formal, coats, ties, dresses, to shorts and tee shirts.
Our first and only night in Alberta is being spent in Bow Valley
Provincial park. We found pull-throughs! It is wooded. The sites
are nicely isolated. There are showers and a dump station.
We left or lost a treasured friend today. We have reached the end
of MILEPOST'S coverage. It was very useful and quite accurate.
Even though we are back in more populated areas we miss its help.
What does one do with showers and a dump station? One dumps and
showers. While Beth went off on her regular morning run, Jodie and
I dumped the two holding tanks and then met Beth at the showers.
After another delightful, long, hot shower, we headed toward the
The standard approach at the border is for the inspector to be
stern and unfriendly. When he found out that Beth was from Alaska
he asked if she had any taxidermy items. With that resolved, we
headed toward the first US gas station, driving on fumes.
Tonight we are in Douglas, MT in the Jackalope Good Sam RV Park.
Beth ran and showered, we dumped the grey water, then down the long
dull road to Denver. We arrived around 2:30 pm.
We've been home for a day now. Most of the first class mail has
been opened. Bear is almost cleaned out, but not cleaned. The tax
clients have been called.
Our trip was 8,805 miles. All of my worries were groundless. The
Cassier and all of the other roads weren't nearly as bad as
represented. They certainly aren't interstates but they are well
maintained and usable.
The tow dolly with car caused no problems, other than being quite
difficulty to back up, but not impossible. One must be patient
when going up hills and cautions in breaking. Its overall impact
on fuel economy seemed to be around 1%.
It was a great trip! Our lust for Alaska and the Yukon has not
been satisfied. I hope it never is.